Saturday, June 14, 2008

M. Night's new movie is about ID?

That's the general impression that this reviewer got, although PZ Myers doesn't precisely agree.

It's a sad thing about M. Night Shyamalan. I really, really enjoyed both 6th Sense and Unbreakable. Then Signs came out, and Jeff Dee -- whose tastes I mostly respect a lot -- told me he hated it. He was disgusted by the premise that even horrible tragedies have a purpose, even if the purpose is really obscure and convoluted.

I defended Night as much as I could manage. "No no," I insisted, "you've missed the point of the movie. He wasn't ADVOCATING this point of view; he was setting up an obviously horrible scenario to show what's WRONG with the idea." I tried to make the case that Signs was really pulling a sly reversal, just like Frailty, a movie that I watched just because Jeff recommended it, and which Jeff is convinced that the real message of the movie is a reductio ad absurdum showing that the Old Testament makes no sense as a moral guide.

Anyway, I'm finally convinced that I was completely wrong about Night. He really believes that mystical mumbo-jumbo, and the message of the movie is being played straight.


  1. Haven't seen said film, but after listening to his interview on the Scientific American podcast(of all things), I'm not at all surprised. He even swallows that line of supernatural predictor senses of animals for when natural disasters strike. And the interviewer just let's him ramble on . . . Are they going to merge with Discovery, next, or what?

  2. I saw the movie last night, and my first response was to email you guys about it, but I got lazy, and my girlfriend and I got into a big argument about it. I knew I was in for a frustrating movie when 5 minutes into it the science teacher said about bees disappearing, "Science will find something to put in the text book, but at the end of the day, we don't know, after all, its just a theory." PUKE!

  3. As a fundamentalist Christian, most of Shyamalan's movies offended me in some way or another (Sixth Sense? Totally demonic!) That aside, others just seemed sloppily handled (he got a bit ham-fisted trying to explain things at the end of The Village). The Lady In The Water was the only film of his I actually enjoyed from start to finish.

    The Happening just looks vulgar and ridiculous. Pity so much talent (including Shyamalan's) was wasted on it.

    But who knows, I could watch it and change my mind. After all, Bach was inspired by ridiculous superstition to create some very beautiful pieces of music; maybe I can at least get lost in Shyamalan's fiction.

    Anyway, it stars Zooey D, so it's got to be worth at least a rental.

  4. Well, all the reviews have been withering. And the movie doesn't seem like it obeys any kind of internal logic. If this deadly neurotoxin is borne by the wind, why not just wait it out by staying inside with all the doors and windows closed?

  5. Well, that strategy mostly worked with the aliens in Signs, so he can't use it again, else he'd be repeating himself.

  6. Night repeating himself? No, he'd never do that... :-)

  7. Funny, when I saw the first trailer where it seemed the majority of humanity was suddenly frozen in some coma and a select few weren't and left wondering what's wrong with everyone else, I thought it was a pretty decent representation of atheists looking at the world under the spell of religion. If only we could just lock ourselves in our houses with some duct tape and plastic and wait for this religion thing to just pass.

    Anyway, I agree his creative tank went empty after Unbreakable, and even that was kinda weak.

  8. Yeah, the feel-good, "everything has a purpose" woo-wankery in Signs was bad, but it didn't bother me nearly so much as the total lack of internal consistency. It's bad enough to have the faceless, purposeless, inexplicably malicious alien menace (jeez, even ID4 gave them a motivation), but to have spacefaring aliens unable to outsmart a door? World-conquering aliens with no weapons except little gas-stingers on their arms? Aliens allergic to water who land on a planet covered in it, only to be beaten in the desert?

    M. Night admittedly pulled the plot for "Sixth Sense" from an old episode of "Are You Afraid of the Dark" (though for once, his was better); he used the same twist in Unbreakable and Signs, and he stole the entirety of "The Village" from the first four chapters of Running Out of Time. He's the hackiest of hacks, and hearing about this drek has cemented my decision to just rent "The Happening" for the lulz.

  9. I do have to say that Signs had its creepy moments, but in the end they were outweighed by everything that was massively wrong about it.

    Some movies have glaring plot holes that I can forgive because the rest was so awesome, i.e. the giant microwave emitter in Batman Begins that vaporizes all the water for miles...unless it's in your body. Or in the ocean.

    Signs just wasn't that awesome.

  10. I saw the movie and while I can't give it two thumbs up, I don't remember anything that I considered having anything to do with ID.

  11. You are all being attacked from all ends. It looks as though you will be a dieing breed (pun intended).

    It appears that the Canadian Free Press is on to you.

    They released an article called

    "Logical Proof of the Existence of a Divine Creator, Why Atheism is Not Logically Sound"

  12. Oh, thanks Dan. Hadn't seen that one!

  13. Either Dan was trying to be humorous, or irony truly is dead!

  14. I watched it. I can't help thinking that the part where the science teacher says "it's just a theory" might have been meant as a tongue-in-cheek cultural reference. Some of the dialogue throughout was just weird, and one gets the sense that this was done on purpose to give the movie a sort of surreal feel to it.

    The movie also mentions the plants "rapidly evolving" their neurotoxins, and it didn't even sound sarcastic. If anything, I thought the whole thing had more of an environmental message than a religious one. This movie wasn't a piece of cinematic genius, but it still scared the crap out of me at times, and I think that Shyamalan does a reasonable job overall and I can at least recommend seeing it for the fun and creep-out factor (though some have said that other directors and writers have covered similar ground in other movies like zombie flicks, but I admit to being a zombie-movie virgin, so what works on me might not work on others. Having said all that, I can totally understand why many won't like this movie). The ending was a bit of an anti-climax (even though it tried to be a climax) and felt much too lazy.

    "It appears that the Canadian Free Press is on to you.

    "They released an article called

    "Logical Proof of the Existence of a Divine Creator, Why Atheism is Not Logically Sound""

    Dan, I'm tearing that article to pieces on the author's blog. He says nothing original in it.


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