Nightfall

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Nightfall

MovieBob takes a look at M. Night Shyamalan's career, and some of his more famous (and infamous) films.

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So since he didn't direct it does Devil not count in this context?

I just want to say, in the defense of The Happening:

If viewed as as a Raimi-esque Evil Dead 2-ish Comedy-Horror, it is absolutely fantastic. You will laugh yourself silly. Though that could be because I was kinda high when I saw it in theaters with my friends. Either way, I recommend it to people on account of how hilarious it can be. When that lawnmower runs a dude over? I was in stitches.

I think UNBREAKABLE is his ONLY good film. Sixth sense loses a lot once you know the twist. Unbreakable is still a good movie and actually seems to improve with each viewing.

i agree with you on unbreakable. it honestly suprised me when i saw it. its a strange to say it realistic almost superhero movie of a type ive never seen before

The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable are by far his best. Even the the surprise is spoiled once you've watched the Sixth Sense, I do enjoy re-watching it just to see it all come together and catch all the clues that I should've spotted the first time.

I enjoyed Signs and I would even go so far as to say I liked The Village and Lady in the Water. Yes, The Village wasn't quite up to par, but it had a fun Twilight Zone sort of feel to it and I didn't think it was boring. I know almost everyone hates Lady in the Water, but on it's own I think it's kind of a cool fairytale story. If you can look past the casting of himself and the behind the scenes nonsense, it's a decent little movie.

The Happening and Last Airbender I have no excuse for and can't find any redeeming qualities. Those are awful.

I've always felt that Sixth Sense is really overrated. Good but not as good as (from my perspective) Unbreakable or even Signs. Maybe it was just a matter of timing or how I was exposed to it but Sixth Sense wasn't bad but never quite stuck with me, couldn't get invested in Willis's character enough to care, but then Unbreakable was just exactly what it needed to be in every way and seemed to fit Willis a lot better.

To each their own in regards to those three but I'm fairly certain everyone can agree that he started going downhill with LitW then just kept on rolling.

I actually enjoyed Unbreakable. It's a nice spin on the superhero genre and its one of two M. Night films I'd recommend to anyone.

Looking back at Signs with fresh eyes, I believe this is where he started to lose it. The film sacrifices substance for style and its script is kneecapped by some idiotic concepts (I.E. "They seem to have trouble with pantry doors."). Once The Village hit, it was downhill from there. I even watched the video blog Moviebob made on YouTube that reviewed The Happening and agree with what he had to say. I like the concept of a nerve gas that makes people kill themselves and it could have work if the origin of said nerve gas and everything else in The Happening wasn't so fucking dumb.

The best object lesson that can be taken from the career of M. Night Shyamalan is "never let your ego get the better of you." The media had a help in over-hyping his success (Newsweek declared him "The Next Spielberg") as did the studios for giving him too much power, but the fault mostly lies on M. Night for not getting control of himself. Now, he's just another washed-up egomaniac whose career peaked too soon.

Once I see his name in the credits, I spend the rest of the movie trying not to identify M's hallmark tropes and enjoy the movie for what it is.... Over the years this has become nigh on impossible. He just can't stand rubbing my nose in them. It's not an enjoyable experience even when the film is supposedly good otherwise. Know what would be an interesting "Twist"? Not doing the damn Twist.

I'm on the side that thinks that M. Night was never all that good. Frankly, I found The Sixth Sense stupid, since its twist relied on a rediculous explanation to cover up dozens of plot holes. I give lots of credit to the acting and the technical aspects were very well done, but the story premise was just awful to me. My eyes rolled so hard when the twist hit they almost fell out of my face and I found myself getting more and more angry as I thought about the rest of the movie in hindsight.

Unbreakable was passable, but still seemed to rely a lot of things I found just silly. The basic idea was sound and again there were very solid technical skills on display, but the actions of some of the characters again seemed like total nonsense.

I found Signs to be passable the first time and almost unwatchable on subsequent tries. It was roundly the most ill conceived alien invasion of all time. Rita Replusa had a more coherent invasion plan than these aliens.

THe only other one I've seen is The Last Airbender, which galled me so much that I refuse to give M. Night another dime. The Last Airbender was one of the best and most thought provoking animated series I've ever seen and it got steam-rolled into nothing, ruining any chance to see it on the big screen. This was easily the most pissed I've been about a movie up until I saw Into Darkness.

I remembered someone spoiled 6th Sense to me and decided to watch it anyway. It seems like a whole lot of nothing happening with a few scenes that just don't make any sense when you see them with that knowledge.

Vilealbaniandwarf:
I think UNBREAKABLE is his ONLY good film. Sixth sense loses a lot once you know the twist. Unbreakable is still a good movie and actually seems to improve with each viewing.

I love Unbreakable, too. Sixth Sense definitely loses some of it's luster after knowing the big twist, but I wouldn't thusly call it unenjoyable. The setting, camera work, and genuinely creepy ghosts and circumstances continue to be unsettling to me and my family.

I think I heard somewhere that Unbreakable was supposed to be the first of a larger series- perhaps a trilogy- but that idea got scuttled (possibly by Shyamalan himself) when it didn't come through with over-the-moon box office.

That might be where things started to go wrong- where Shyamalan started to think that overwhelming audience approbation of his craft was less something he should strive for than his due, and that if it didn't work out then there was something wrong with the viewer, not the craftsman.

The stories about Shyamalan having people re-arrange their schedules to read his new scripts and attend to his paranoia about said scripts being leaked begin to make it sound less like typical Hollywood eccentricity and more like genuine neurosis.

The audience loves a narrative about a big ego being deflated. I try not to wish the man ill; if he could deliver a new story that was worth telling, I think he could see a lot of "sins" forgiven. I'm curious if the advertising for "After Earth" all but hiding Shyamalan's involvement is a sign of repentance or just caginess on the part of the studio.

My favorite movie of his is Signs. But A) I love the alien invasion genre, and B) am very interested in and a supporter of the fatalist philosophy.

MisterShine:
I just want to say, in the defense of The Happening:

If viewed as as a Raimi-esque Evil Dead 2-ish Comedy-Horror, it is absolutely fantastic. You will laugh yourself silly. Though that could be because I was kinda high when I saw it in theaters with my friends. Either way, I recommend it to people on account of how hilarious it can be. When that lawnmower runs a dude over? I was in stitches.

Yes it is a funny movie and everyone should watch it especially with the rifftraxx for it. Tons and tons of entertainment. This however was not the intent of Shiamalan. If you look at some of the imagery and the movies premise this movie was displaying Mr.Shiamalans apparent hatred and displeasure at his critics and fans.

The sign in the background that read "You deserve this"

The heavy handed environmental message using some pretty bad understanding of how plant biology works(not uncommon for scifi movie though. I think environmental awareness is important but the movie talks to us like we are idiots with no sophistication.

The straight up mean and spiteful ways most of the victims are killed esspecially the 2 teenagers who are shoot at point blank range.

The sheer idiocy of every character that is not Shamalans proxy Marky Walberg. The same thoughtful intellectual he puts in most of his movies that is under appreciated and if only people would listen to him everything would be better. It was annoying when Steven King did it and time has not made it any more palatable.

Most people find a healthy outlet for their anger like playing a video game or exercise but M. Night made a whole movie about killing people off as punishment for their own self induced sins(In this case ignoring the environment). I did not see Devil but that movie was a bit more direct about the punishment thing too.

ellers07:
Yes, The Village wasn't quite up to par, but it had a fun Twilight Zone sort of feel to it and I didn't think it was boring.

It was kind of stilted and slow so you can see why some people thought it was boring. And the twist was one of the most stupid things I've ever watched.

I thought the Village was an interesting concept, in as I could see some folks in this age do something similar (the whole "life is better in the dark ages" ideal) in the real world. I may be one of the few people in the world who liked it enough to say it wasn't that bad.
I also was never a fan of the Last Airbender cartoon. Sorry folks, I rate it down with Naruto in my cartoons I fall asleep to. So watching the movie for some reason I enjoyed it. Maybe it was perverse pleasure watching friends who loved the carton writhe in agony and at one point hurl full buckets of popcorn at the screen during... Evil much?

I agree with Bob on Unbreakable. Awesome movie, detracted by the Sixth Sense's success and the casting of Bruce Willis. Hell we know Bruce is indestructible already. All the blood effects in his movies are just illusions to keep paradox manifestations at bay (cookie if you can name the absolutely obscure reference source).

Signs was good but was harmed greatly by the alien actually being shown. However you feel about Mel Gibson as a person, he is a great actor and the Culkin/Phoenix dynamic was also pretty good. Still that alien was just... a let down, like Cloverfield.

Still twists in movies kind of were ruined by Shamalamadingding. Except Wild Things, I loved that twisted fucking movie.

Gorrath:

THe only other one I've seen is The Last Airbender, which galled me so much that I refuse to give M. Night another dime. The Last Airbender was one of the best and most thought provoking animated series I've ever seen and it got steam-rolled into nothing, ruining any chance to see it on the big screen. This was easily the most pissed I've been about a movie up until I saw Into Darkness.

Yeah this was the most baffling outcome for me. For a man who claims he is a hard core fan of the show and watched it 3 or 4 times with his kids he seemed to miss the entire point of the narrative and just thought the kung-fu was "neat". The one theme for the entire show Avatar TLAB is 'Kids vs. the World'. That's it. You have teen kids(tweens I guess) with little to no adult support having to just jump out into a world that is unfamiliar. They have to learn that they need to save the world, how to do it, and they have less then a year to travel the globe and do it.

But despite all this pressure Ang and the group stay upbeat trying to stave off becoming a cynical adults. Not to mention the older master that are brought into action because of the young team of adventurers. The show embraced the spirit and strength of youth and Mr. Shiamalans movie was the most dull and boring thing I have seen put to film. M. Night could not have missed the point more if he tried.

I actually hated unbreakable I was bored to tears before the end came around.

Callate:
I think I heard somewhere that Unbreakable was supposed to be the first of a larger series- perhaps a trilogy- but that idea got scuttled (possibly by Shyamalan himself) when it didn't come through with over-the-moon box office.

That might be where things started to go wrong- where Shyamalan started to think that overwhelming audience approbation of his craft was less something he should strive for than his due, and that if it didn't work out then there was something wrong with the viewer, not the craftsman.

The stories about Shyamalan having people re-arrange their schedules to read his new scripts and attend to his paranoia about said scripts being leaked begin to make it sound less like typical Hollywood eccentricity and more like genuine neurosis.

The audience loves a narrative about a big ego being deflated. I try not to wish the man ill; if he could deliver a new story that was worth telling, I think he could see a lot of "sins" forgiven. I'm curious if the advertising for "After Earth" all but hiding Shyamalan's involvement is a sign of repentance or just caginess on the part of the studio.

But I thought Bob said Unbreakable was a hit. How much was it supposed to earn in the Box Office to make a sequel?
captcha: make a bee-line
...to a movie not directed by MNS. Hi-yo!

I like "The Village", down to its twist, story, characters (except the crazy bastard in the Village, but I think I'm supposed to hate the twat), motivations, and stuff. I guess you could call it moralizing, but for me, in the end...

I hate "Signs"! With a passion!

I wish Shyamalan gets his act together again someday and gives us other "Sixth Sense"s, "Unbreakable"s, and the occasional "The Village". :)

captcha: "haste makes waste". Ok, captcha, I will think about it one more time before I post it, to make sure I do what i can to avoid saying something stupid.

ellers07:
I enjoyed Signs and I would even go so far as to say I liked The Village and Lady in the Water. Yes, The Village wasn't quite up to par, but it had a fun Twilight Zone sort of feel to it and I didn't think it was boring. I know almost everyone hates Lady in the Water, but on it's own I think it's kind of a cool fairytale story. If you can look past the casting of himself and the behind the scenes nonsense, it's a decent little movie.

The Happening and Last Airbender I have no excuse for and can't find any redeeming qualities. Those are awful.

Yay! I'm not the only one! Sometimes it feels like all the movie reviewers are too close to view things objectively. I knew nothing about behind-the-scenes troubles with The Village and Lady in the Water, and enjoyed both. Here is my take on their bad reviews, and how to make them more enjoyable...

The Village - People seemed to think this was a 'scary movie'. They were disappointed by the lackluster twist and the 'monsters' being staged. But that was never the point of the movie. It's not a movie to create fear, but rather a movie about fear, and how people are affected by it. In the story, fear was the foundation of the village. And that fear has seeped into the entire culture of the place. It's about how fear paralyzes and about how being brave is not about 'not being scared', but instead about finding the strength to act despite your fear. Both Ivy and Lucius demonstrate that.

Lady in the Water - MovieBob's review of this actually annoys me. All the critics focus on is 'the critic' and 'the writer', like there is nothing else. The writer (played by Shyamalan) was not a messiah. His fate is to inspire a leader, a messiah, but he will never live to see it. You're reading too much into it and taking personal insult and that is affecting your opinion.

Rewatch it, but look at the movie as a commentary on self-belief and potential. There is a great diaspora of characters from different ages, cultures, races and backgrounds (a definite plus), who all doubt themselves. The nymph doubts her ability to fulfill her purpose. The doctor has lost belief in his role as a healer. The writer doubts the import of his book, and his sister doubts her chance of finding love. The father of the symbolist believes his son's gift is just a quirk. There are more. All these people in the apartment complex who don't believe they have any part to play in any stories, but in the end, they all do. The critic represents the people who 'already know the ending', so don't even try (ie: people who are critical and negative), and yet he dies because what he though he knew, he didn't. If you want to sum up the 'message', it is to take the chances that come your way, because you might be a big part of a story you just don't know about yet.

Yeah I really loved Unbreakable I remember this big theater groan at the end and thinking "wtf" I thought it was awesome, but I am a big comicbook nerd.

And yet M. Night Shyamalan keeps hinting at/threatening to make a sequel to "Unbreakable".

Please no. The movie is legitimately good, but I have nothing but paranoia and fear that any follow-up would do anything other than erase any fond memories for it.

I have watched bad movies before. I have squirmed and guffawed and Mystery-Science-Theatre-3000'ed my way through some terrible film in my time.

But "Lady In The Water" is the WORST film-going experience I have ever been forced to endure. It was physically and mentally anguishing. As an adult I covered my eyes and ears and hid from the screen because it was so bad I couldn't stand it.

F. that M. Night guy.

The Sixth Sense was ripped off from an episode of "Are You Afraid of the Dark." and Shyamalan ADMITS it.

When the best you can do is make a crappy Nickelodeon show somewhat more watchable, you're a hack.

Personally, I think his movies always have this strangely alluring "otherness" to them. The way they are paced, written and shot... They feel odd.

But, much like anchovies on a pizza, it's a polarizing taste.

I've really never completely disliked any of his movies, even when some were grating in certain respects.
I see the criticisms and understand them... Except for Lady in the Water, people focus way too much on the writer/critic thing, when I watched the movie I barely payed any attention to those, to be honest (then again, I didn't even realize the writer was Shyamalan himself).

The Happening I think needs to be re-evaluated. Not sure if it was his intention, but it is an excellent homage to classic 70s horror movies, with the silly science, common-sense defying characters and completely ridiculous premise that attempts a heavy-handed message.

As for Last Airbender... The visuals were awesome, and some of the ideas (like the use of more than chinese/japanese cultures for the different tribes) were certainly interesting. What really killed the movie for me was the tone. Too somber and artificially epic, when the original material was more lighthearted and adventurous.

Oh, and the Village would've been awesome as a short film or TV-series episode. The twist was interesting, it was just too long for its own good.

But hey, what do I know?

Shyamalan kind of has become a cautionary tale of what happens when your ego gets the better of you.

As someone who likes to think up twists in plots, I'm really curious what made the twist in The Village so bad (I never saw the movie, but looked up the basic plot on Wikipedia). From summary alone, it doesn't look that bad, but if I want to write something with a twist like that, it'd be good to know why I should avoid it like the plague...

I'll defend Village from any serious detractors. It's more a dystopia than a horror movie, more about atmosphere than story (though I think it has an interesting story as well), and I think the slow emotional bits have some payoff if you're patient.

I even think Lady in the Water is decent, it's a movie you have to completely suspend your disbelief for, but I think that's sorta the point. Lady in the Water is like an out-there experimental what-if movie where fairy-tale meets reality, and it doesn't hold back at all on that premise. I think the craziness of the movie is also reeled in somewhat by the film's great acting. Almost every review of it I've read focuses almost entirely on Shyamalan's decision to cast himself as the world saving messiah writer, but that seems beside the point. MNS might be an egotistical hothead, but I don't have to like him as a person to enjoy his movies, otherwise Quentin Tarantino would never have gotten where he is. Keep in mind, when I first saw this movie I didn't even know what MNS looked like so to me he was just another character.

The Happening is the first MNS movie that I'd say is just strait up terrible, to the point of being pretty much comical. Like when the protagonist starts talking to a tree, a fake tree, or running from wind in the grass like it's a monster chasing him, and this. It doesn't even feel like a MNS movie really, I have no idea what happened.

The Last Airbender, I don't even remember if I liked it or not, it obviously didn't leave a strong impression. I never watched the original TV show.

I'm probably the last person on the planet who still thinks M. Night Shyamalan has some genuine talent and potential as a director. He has a sorta niche style that not all will appreciate and he's proven that he can't expand outside it too well. But I think when making films that play to his strengths, and perhaps given some actual critical feedback, he can make movies that are very compelling and different than what you'd find almost anywhere else in Hollywood. More to the point I hate how he's pretty much just been dismissed as a hack.

Darth_Payn:
But I thought Bob said Unbreakable was a hit. How much was it supposed to earn in the Box Office to make a sequel?
captcha: make a bee-line
...to a movie not directed by MNS. Hi-yo!

More like a cult hit, or a "sleeper" hit. It did fine- $95 million domestic take, around $248 million in total, on a $75 million budget. But Shyamalan was disappointed. I think I remember reading he was hoping for $150 million domestically- but the webs are all a-burble now about whether he's going to try to make Unbreakable 2 now, so I can't find hide nor hair of where I read that originally (so don't quote me. ;) )

No specific numbers, but a bit of background here:

Sure, it wasn't the highest-grossing thriller of all time and it didn't get ''The Sixth Sense'''s six Oscar nominations -- but ''Unbreakable'' did rack up almost $100 million, win a devoted cult, and have its two stars, Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson, clamoring for not one but two sequels. But where others see a nice follow-up, Shyamalan sees a dead career -- which leads one to wonder, Who is this guy? The precocious budding genius? The press-friendly family man? The morose auteur?

-Source: Entertainment Weekly

I don't know why people like Unbreakable so much. It plays out as a series of comic book what ifs, but they are so blatantly obvious and the palate is so dreary (yes I understand what he was trying to do) that the entire experience is just painfully dull.

Maybe its because I was myself a comic book reader, but it can't really be considered thought provoking when all the questions it tries to raise were things I had considered before I was even a teenager. About midway through the film I had not only figured out what the "twist" was but also what the intermediate reveals would be. Its one thing to guess the ending, its another when you are able to guess the entire narrative.

"Too bad it represents the scuttling of a would-be promising franchise, as otherwise it might've made a fun "so bad it's good" party movie."
Oh Bob.... you really have no idea. While I would agree with you if you have never seen the franchise then it's a hilariously bad movie to watch. However being a die hard, watching this movie is a fate worse then death. It's like watching your baby boy being flayed alive while they pour salt on him. Now I'm normally into these types of awful movies and I knew it was an abomination, but my god nothing could have prepared me for what to expect. I bailed after a measly 15 minutes which felt like 45 at the least (it's insanely boring). After going through a strict physical training regime I regained the nerve to watch it all the way through. This had so much potential, it could have been a monolith of a series, but instead ends up being one of the most painful movies I've ever seen.

Nuxxy:

Rewatch it, but look at the movie as a commentary on self-belief and potential. There is a great diaspora of characters from different ages, cultures, races and backgrounds (a definite plus), who all doubt themselves. The nymph doubts her ability to fulfill her purpose. The doctor has lost belief in his role as a healer. The writer doubts the import of his book, and his sister doubts her chance of finding love. The father of the symbolist believes his son's gift is just a quirk. There are more. All these people in the apartment complex who don't believe they have any part to play in any stories, but in the end, they all do. The critic represents the people who 'already know the ending', so don't even try (ie: people who are critical and negative), and yet he dies because what he though he knew, he didn't. If you want to sum up the 'message', it is to take the chances that come your way, because you might be a big part of a story you just don't know about yet.

Very well said! I think you summed up the message far better than I ever could and I totally agree. I remember sitting through it and just thinking, "well, this is a nice movie." I liked the small setting and appreciated the positive themes of the film. I think one of Shyamalan's problems is audiences came to expect a twist with every movie and they don't necessarily have one. I remember a friend of mine saying Lady in the Water was awful because the twist was so stupid. And I was confused.

In any case, it's nice to meet the other person in the world who doesn't hate this movie.

"Signs" was the first one that I found offensive, with its childish aliens design, the completely moronic "water kills them" twist and the completely forgettable drama that was going on (a few days later I had forgotten everything apart from Joaquin Phoenix's figure just sort of slogging around).

"Village" was indeed quite boring, the twist was not really a twist, but at least it got somewhat atmospheric in a couple of instances, so it was not all bad.

"Lady in the Water" had quite an unusual story, and Paul Giamatti is always a delight. Yes, I facepalmed at Night's character, but overall the movie didn't bother me as much as it did other people.

"The Happening" is probably the worst "serious" movie I have ever seen. Horrendously paced, atrocious dialogue and one of the worst stories that ever wasted my time. It was so shockingly bad that I decided that, unless I read MANY overwhelmingly positive things about a Shyamalan movie online, I would never watch one again. So far it seems to have been the right choice.

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