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I Am Legend (Lawrence, USA, 2007) April 7, 2009

Posted by Daniel Stephens in : 2000s, Drama, Film reviews, Action/Adventure, Sci-fi/Fantasy , add a comment

I Am Legend (Lawrence, USA, 2007)

Dir. Francis Lawrence; starring Will Smith, Alice Braga

It’s surprising to see such a restrained, mannered big-budget Hollywood film delivered by music video director Francis Lawrence. Lawrence failed to ignite much devotion from casual comic book fans with his muddled adaptation Constantine, so it’s refreshing to see a young director, bred on the quick-fix conventions of recent blockbusters, produce such an interesting, and at times, powerful film.

I Am Legend sees Will Smith’s military scientist Robert Neville stuck in a post-apocalyptic New York City alone when a cancer cure turns the populace into flesh-eating, genetically-mutated zombies. He is entirely alone apart from loyal pet dog Sam. Lawrence mixes some beautifully haunting images of a desolate city with flashbacks of an earlier period when the virus began to spread. In present day, Neville travels by daylight, broadcasting everyday on radio in the hope of finding more survivors. By night, when the mutated humans come out to feed, he works in his fortress-like laboratory desperately trying to find a cure.

The film may be littered with plot holes but this doesn’t detract from Neville’s story. This is indeed a character study of an obsessed but decaying man, dealing with a loss of lives he feels responsible for, and who, imprisoned in the endless expanse of an empty city, begins to mentally and physically breakdown. Although immune to the virus, he is not immune to its destructive affect on the modern, thriving society he can only remember in dreams. Now he only has his work and the dog for company. Finding a cure is as much a delusion as it is a compulsion. It’s the only thing he has left to live for.

Will Smith portrays Neville as a brilliant mind on the brink of insanity. His daily jaunts to the local video store see him talking to the mannequins as if they were real patrons, and he even believes one of them is flirting with him. Seeing this very logical scientist lose all sense of reality is as much tragic as it is heartfelt. When he does finally meet a survivor he can’t deal with them being in his life, in his space. He has become so overwhelmed with a single goal, and so accustomed to a life without interaction with any other human being, he’s almost unwilling to accept he’s not alone.

Lawrence doesn’t confuse the issue with too much exposition. Much of the background story is left unnourished - we don’t know why Neville and his dog are immune to the virus, or why the mutations are harmed by sunlight (apart from it being a generic part of a Vampire’s make-up). Lawrence, on the other hand, forces us to focus on Neville’s adaptation to this new world - the pseudo-caveman with all the mod-con gadgets in the world but no one to share them with. But, the film could have done without the poor execution of special-effects for the mutations themselves. There isn’t the sense of authenticity shown in the likes of 28 Days Later as the zombies in I Am Legend look like something cut and pasted from Stephen Sommers’ The Mummy.

While Lawrence resorts to convention at the end, the climax is not without its considerable surprises. As Bob Marley’s Redemption Song plays over the credits, I Am Legend leaves you with a sense of the human spirit, and the strength of that spirit when faced with even the most impossible situation. It’s hardly a perfect film but with Lawrence’s assured direction and Will Smith’s captivating one-man show, I Am Legend deserves an audience.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Cloverfield (Matt Reeves, USA, 2008) March 6, 2009

Posted by Daniel Stephens in : Horror, 2000s, Film reviews, Action/Adventure, Sci-fi/Fantasy , add a comment

Dir. Matt Reeves; starring Michael Stahl-David, Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller, Mike Vogel

I was like many intrigued by Cloverfield’s marketing campaign: the unnamed movie with a poster that depicted a decapitated Statue of Liberty. The trailer, which first appeared alongside the release of Transformers during the summer of 2007, showed the home video footage of a seemingly serene New York city party being interrupted by first the indication of an earthquake, then an explosion in a nearby building. Producer J.J. Abrams, who gave the world the television series Lost amongst many other production and writing credits, provided the mere hint of disaster with Cloverfield’s initial promotion. But the adventure story masked within wasn’t given traditional genre convention, there was no clarity to the good or evil, it was simply that old curse of the video tape: just as we are about to get to the best bit the machine chews the cassette.

Unfortunately, Abrams ability to market the movie and create media hype is a genius that ends there. As I suspected, Cloverfield is the accumulation of several other better films, and the lack of footage in the trailer not only hides the true nature of the story but also poor plotting, bad acting, and a complete lack of originality. The film is clearly the big-budget regurgitation of the YouTube online video revolution where shaky cameras have become a part of our media diet. In that same instance, Cloverfield plays into reality television’s penchant for actuality, while playing off what made The Blair Witch Project so successful. But it ends up feeling like the b-roll footage from 1998’s Godzilla. As if we’re shown these catastrophic events - not in brilliant 35mm widescreen with grandiose helicopter shots and dazzling special-effects - but by Joe Street, running terrified around New York city with his hi-def video camera.

But that’s the point isn’t it. Take an everyman and his expensive Christmas gift, and follow his plight as he tries to escape a city under siege. Yet while Cloverfield might seem like a unique piece of entertainment it’s rather insulting. After all, the events depicted in the movie are nothing more than a fantastical retelling of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York. Isn’t it rather insensitive that, ultimately, the film is nothing more than a perfectly executed exercise in commercial productivity?

It is difficult not to compare Cloverfield with The Blair Witch… [MORE]

Full review featured on Helium - Click HERE 

Children of Men (2006, USA/UK, 2006) February 22, 2009

Posted by Daniel Stephens in : 2000s, Drama, Film reviews, Action/Adventure, Sci-fi/Fantasy, Crime , add a comment

Alfonso Cuaron’s bleak but brilliant film set in a self-destructive future born out of fascist authoritarianism and humanity’s loss of fertility is a damning, uncompromising picture of one possible eventuality. As a picture postcard of what a British National Party-run Britain could be, Cuaron’s film is the perfect antidote to their political and cultural ignorance. The film is deeply affecting, not just in its graphic depiction of violence and a society overrun by narcissism and government indignation, but in its believable view of a future not too distant from our own. Children of Men is a fascinating, original and frightening film that cuts so closely to the bone it actually hurts.

Clive Owen plays Dillon, a working man who has left his activism days behind him. When an old flame (Julianne Moore) arrives with a proposition, he finds himself thrust into a political nightmare. Britain, in the 2020’s is, like every other nation on earth, dying out. Infertility has taken hold. No babies have been born for nearly twenty years and when the youngest man on earth is murdered, the tabloid news has, as you’d expect, nothing better to focus on. Migration has become a thing of the past in the United Kingdom. All non-Brits are holed up in detention camps not unlike Nazi ghettos during World War 2, and random acts of brutality and murder are rife. Dillon is tasked to help a refugee escape the country. What he doesn’t know is that a miracle has occurred - the girl is pregnant. However, after Moore’s character is brutally killed by her own people, Dillon finds himself trying to escape the police who wrongly believe…[MORE]

Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, Spain, 2006) February 16, 2009

Posted by Daniel Stephens in : Horror, 2000s, Drama, Film reviews, Sci-fi/Fantasy, War, Foreign Language , add a comment

There’s a simple, innocent beauty amidst Guillermo Del Toro’s harrowing tale of one girl’s desperation to escape during the bloody Spanish Civil War. Set just after the D-Day landings at Normandy in 1944, Pan’s Labyrinth sees a pregnant mother and daughter travelling to see the unborn child’s father - a Captain in the oppressive Spanish army - who is based at an outpost to stop advancing revolutionaries. The daughter - Ofelia (Ivana Baguero) - knows that the man who has fathered her half-brother is not interested in either her or her mother. She feels at once betrayed by her mother for bringing her to this awful place and yet their love is unbreakable, and at the same time fearful and untrusting of Captain Vidal. She is given the chance to escape this terrible world when visited by a Faun who tells her she is a Princess from another world. She can return to her kingdom if she completes three magical tasks. [Click HERE for FULL REVIEW]

Poltergeist III (Gary Sherman, 1988, USA) February 19, 2008

Posted by Daniel Stephens in : Horror, 1980s, Film reviews, Sci-fi/Fantasy , 3 comments

Directed by Gary Sherman; written by Brian Sherman, Brian Taggert; starring Nancy Allen, Heather O’Rourke, Tom Skerritt

Talk about smoke and mirrors. Director Gary Sherman, he of Dead and Buried fame (or perhaps shame, depending on who you are speaking to), utilises this old magicians trick to, at least at first, great effect. Indeed, Poltergeist III begins with far too much going for it. Here is a film that is following in the footsteps of a poor sequel to a great horror movie. The original leading star names (Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams) have decided against reprising their roles, and it’s fighting a battle with all the other high profile horror sequels appearing in 1988 (Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood). Yet, surprisingly, Sherman manages to create an opening that is both intriguing and genuinely unsettling through, almost primarily, the use of mirrors, reflection, and depth of field photography. It’s a shame then, that around the halfway mark, what originality there was is thrown from the sixtieth floor window of the film’s main high-rise location, and Poltergeist III quickly, and I guess inevitably, becomes just another throwaway franchise filler.

The film follows on from Poltergeist II as Carol-Anne (Heather O’Rourke) is sent to her Auntie’s in a bid to put the events of her recent past behind her. Almost immediately, she begins to have visions of Reverend Henry Kane, a dead priest whose grave was desecrated when Carol-Anne’s father began a housing project over it. At the special school Carol-Anne attends, her psychiatrist doesn’t believe her stories of evil supernatural beings, deciding that she has a gift for hypnotic suggestion. When one of his experiments goes wrong and he sees what Carol-Anne can see, Tangina (Zelda Rubinstein, the caring medium from the first two films) is alerted telepathically that the dead have once again awoken, and that they want Carol-Anne to lead them into the light.

Poltergeist III was a product of the horror franchise culture that plagued the genre throughout the late 1980s - lazy producers who wanted to make a quick buck through audience recognition of memorable characters, plot lines, and high-concept ideas. It is a shame because there’s a good film in here somewhere – there’s flashes of skill and craftsmanship, certainly in the first half hour – but it’s lost in poor scripting and a waste of acting talent.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Who directed the original Poltergeist? Read my article…

Déjà Vu (Tony Scott, 2006, USA) May 22, 2007

Posted by Daniel Stephens in : Uncategorized, 2000s, Film reviews, Action/Adventure, Thriller/Suspense, Sci-fi/Fantasy, Crime , 7 comments

Dir. Tony Scott; screenplay by Bill Marsilii, Terry Rossio; starring Denzel Washington, Paula Patton, Val Kilmer, Jim Caviezel, Adam Goldberg, Elden Henson, Bruce Greenwood

As the closing credits begin at the end of Déjà Vu, a title appears commemorating the people of New Orleans for their ‘strength and enduring spirit.’ Clearly, the film alludes to those who lost their lives, and the many that tried to save life, after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Yet, the film has more close ties to the unnatural disaster that appeared in New York on the 11th of September 2001, and that eternal question of ‘what if’. What if you could go back in time and stop those planes from taking off? The film shares the sentiments of other time travel movies such as Back To The Future, and more recently, Frequency and Timecop, but at its heart, it’s a quintessential American hero movie. It’s about facing adversity and challenging all the one holds sacred.

After a bomb explodes on a boat in New Orleans, ATF agent Doug Carlin (Washington) begins to investigate, finding some unexplainable ties between himself and one of the female victims. When he learns that she was found dead an hour before the explosion he begins to question the line of enquiry and the FBI invite him to help with their enquiries. He’s introduced to a new piece of technology that allows its viewers to see events as they occurred four and a half days prior. However, they can’t pause or rewind the footage and they can only view events four and a half days before the present day. Therefore, they have to wait until they can watch the footage of the exploding boat. Their job in the mean time is to decide where to look on the boat, and who to look for, as they only get one chance to get it right. But when Carlin realises they can influence the events in the past, stopping the tragedy before it happens becomes his prime objective.

There’s was a moment around the fifty minute mark where I felt the film was being far too complicated for its own good. Scott takes the influences of big brother, CCTV, and government spy satellites one step further from his own 1998 film Enemy Of The State. Here he depicts a way of seeing into the past and uses very specific scientific details to tell us just exactly how it works. However, the threat of total invasion of privacy is quite apparent in Enemy Of The State, the way the government watches the world is believable and based on fact. Déjà Vu bends the rules slightly, taking fact and adding quite a lot of fiction. Certainly when the film really gets going, it’s a roller-coaster of adventurism, explosions, bad guys, and car chases, but Scott never really sets his audience up for the fantasy aspect of his story. Suddenly we are asked to stretch are imagination from a hard-nosed police investigation (with the psychological angle of a cop seemingly breaking down) and a mysterious terrorist threat, to a time-travel fantasy about folding the space-time continuum, Einstein-Rosen bridges, worm holes, Wheeler Boundaries, and EM pulses. When Carlin asks, ‘What if there’s more than physics’, I’m pleading there isn’t. The problem is that it comes out of nowhere, and while it is a twist in the tale, the surprise element is extinguished my confusing science and the attempt to fuse reality with unreality. It’s fundamental storytelling – take for example, Jurassic Park which, setting aside all the marketing campaigns, began by showing us a caged beast attacking game keepers. It set-up what was to come. In Back To The Future, Robert Zemeckis filled the early part of the movie with ‘time’ metaphors, and in Frequency we are introduced to the mystical qualities of the Aurora Borealis and hearing old radio broadcasts. In Déjà Vu, Scott throws in a few red-herrings (the film’s title is a clue, as is Carlin finding a voice recording left by himself, finger prints in a building he never knowingly went to, and a message seemingly addressed to himself) but doesn’t completely set-up the big, time-traveling jolt to the system, and even then, behind all the science, he can’t hide the odd plot hole. While you could argue the plot intricacies make for a more fulfilling second viewing, and in effect, directly set-up what is to come, the film simply does not prepare the viewer for its change of direction. Essentially, I wasn’t ready to suspend my disbelief so suddenly, and it takes some time for everything to position itself back into place.

However, when the movie settles back down, and you take on-board that essentially the film is about influencing events that happened four and half days ago in order to prevent tragedies in the future, there’s enough high-octane thrills to make you forget about any problems you might have with the film’s plot logic. Indeed, while I have reservations about the middle part of the film, the first fifty minutes is intriguing, while the last half hour is thrillingly eventful. A lot of the thanks have to go to Denzel Washington who provides another powerhouse performance, and beautifully grounds the fantastical with a very raw representation of a man desperate to save life.

Déjà Vu might not be as polished as Scott’s Enemy Of The State, or as well-orchestrated as the director’s other collaboration with Washington on Man On Fire, but it’s frequently more enjoyable than Spy Game and Domino. It is at times a little over-complicated with a messy plot but it’s an entertaining action movie that never outstays its welcome.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Jason X (James Isaac, 2001, USA) May 20, 2007

Posted by Daniel Stephens in : Uncategorized, Horror, 2000s, Film reviews, Sci-fi/Fantasy , 1 comment so far

Dir. James Isaac; screenplay by Todd Farmer; starring Kane Hodder, Lexa Doig, Chuck Campbell

The beauty to watching a film you have zero expectations of is that when it delivers, in the smallest, almost insignificant way, it can be a thrilling event. Jason X might be yet another addition in the Friday The 13th franchise but its way better than some of the awful later sequels. You can tell it’s post-Scream with its self-reflexive attitudes but unlike many of the slasher films that appeared after 1997, director Isaac puts most of his effort into playful use of the character and to not taking itself too seriously. The film is silly and at times quite funny, but it doesn’t insult its audience by trying to be something that it’s not. Isaac knows his limitations and runs with what he’s got. It makes for a frequently enjoyable entry in the series. [Read Full Review - Here]

Read my Top 10 Friday The 13th movies here
Rating: 2 our of 5

The Friday the 13th Series so far:

Friday The 13th (Sean S. Cunningham, 1980, USA) - The raw and bloody original was a lot less influential than people think. It was massively inspired by John Carpenter’s Halloween and not nearly as good. Rating: 3 out of 5

Friday The 13th - Part II (Steve Miner, 1981, USA) - The second film is the first where Jason actually is the killer. It’s more enjoyable than the original film but far too similar. Rating: 2 out of 5

Friday The 13th - Part III (Steve Miner, 1982, USA) - It’s exactly the same film as the previous two, with the unfortunate bonus of 3-D. Rating: 2 out of 5

Friday The 13th - The Final Chapter (Part IV) (Joseph Zito, 1984, USA) - The film stars a young Corey Feldman who has to come to his older sister’s aid when Jason takes a fancy to her. This is silly fun and follows a very similar path to the films that proceeded it. However, it’s a better film than Part III and the most enjoyable of the sequels. Rating: 3 out of 5

Friday The 13th - A New Beginning (Part V) (Danny Steinmann, 1985, USA) - The best sequel is followed by the worst. A plotless mess and the worst Jason Voorhees film in the franchise. The fifth film tries to reignite the series after Jason is seemingly killed for good, but it fails to do a good job, simply stringing together bloody deaths for the sake of showing off the latest prosthetic and make-up effects. Waste of time. Rating: 1 out of 5

Jason Lives: Friday The 13th Part IV (Tom McLoughlin, 1986, USA) - A coherent plot helps Part IV be one of the better sequels. Rating: 3 out of 5

Friday The 13th Part VII: The New Blood (John Buechler, 1988, USA) - A nice premise that sees a sort of Carrie V Jason battle is sadly under-developed. However, it makes for some fun sequences and a little inventiveness to what had, by this time, become a rather dull retread of the same plot line. Rating: 2 out of 5

Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (Rob Heddon, 1989, USA) - A terrible mess that lacks any sort of plot. There’s some nice special-effects towards the end but you’d have fallen asleep by the time you get to them. Rating: 1 out of 5

Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday (Adam Marcus, 1993, USA) - Jason gets killed at the beginning which is about the only decent bit of the movie. Rating: 1 out of 5

Freddy Versus Jason (Ronny Yu, 2003, USA) - A gimmicky piece of rubbish seeing Freddy Krueger battling Jason Voorhees. On paper it seems like a crowd-pleaser but it’s bad filmmaking 101, and isn’t as fun as Jason X. Rating: 1 out of 5

Doom (Andrzej Bartkowiak, 2005, USA) May 18, 2007

Posted by Daniel Stephens in : Uncategorized, Horror, 2000s, Film reviews, Action/Adventure, Sci-fi/Fantasy , 6 comments

Dir. Andrzej Bartkowiak; screenplay by Dave Callahan & Wesley Strick; starring The Rock, Karl Urban, Rosamund Pike, Ben Daniels

In one of the great self-reflexive moments that Kevin Smith does so well, Ben Affleck tells Matt Damon in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, ‘you gotta do a safe picture, then you can do an art picture. But then sometimes you gotta do the paycheck picture because your friend says you owe him.’ It’s a great little moment in a great little movie, and fittingly, describes the sentiments of Rosamund Pike who turns up in Doom surely because she either has bills to pay or she owes a friend. The Libertine, Pride And Prejudice, and the Devil You Know actress surely knew what a mess she was getting herself into when she read Callahan and Strick’s script. I’ll just backtrack for a second – did I just say it took two people to write this awful film – I think I did.

Essentially, Doom is like a high-budget TV movie with nothing resembling conflict, characterisation, or originality. Any videogame conversion to the big-screen can be forgiven for a lack of original material but the film struggles to find any conflict within its rocket-scientist mumbo-jumbo and over-complicated plotting. For a film that concerns a group of combat marines going into battle (after a distant planet issues a distress call), you’d expect a certain amount of tension, but director Bartkowiak seems either unable or unwilling. There’s a silly moment when The Rock tells his marines it’s ‘game time’ as they exit a helicopter to go into a building. The marines check the area for danger as an elevator opens with the audience half expecting something nasty to appear. Alas, it doesn’t and the men enter the elevator. Danger must surely be close? Not exactly, as the marines find their floor, we learn they’ve entered a building that acts, much like an airport, and transports them to the planet that needs their assistance. Essentially, they’re at a futuristic airport. So, we wonder, why all the gun-ready, macho-posturing as they first got into the elevator, because there was no danger whatsoever. Retrospectively, it’s laughable, as you could see the Wayans brothers or the Zucker’s using such a gag as parody, not serious, supposedly tension-building drama. In fact, I countered at least three false starts for The Rock and his gang of idiots before they face any real danger. By then, I’d switched off and started self-palm reading, something that was difficult because it was far too dark to do it properly, and secondly, I have absolutely no idea how to palm read.

Fundamentally, Doom is a complete failure because it doesn’t do the one thing it should. That is, to offer exciting and dramatic action, underscored by a relevant and overpowering threat. You think about the films it wants to be - Aliens and Predator - and they both had what was required in abundance. In Aliens, even before the marines face any direct threat, tension is created because they go to a planet they and the audience know could be populated by evil, unstoppable monsters. The fact that when they initially get there, everyone on the planet has disappeared, heightens this level of suspense (what happened? Why? Where are all the people?). The soldiers are faced with desolate corridors, artificial lighting beginning to fade, and the obvious signs of struggle, a last stand. Likewise, in Predator, when the soldiers find another slain group of marines, they begin to question what exactly they are up against. Can they defeat it, where another group of soldiers failed? Both these scenes appear well before any proper combat and yet the audience is left excited in anticipation. Doom is far too confused in its build-up, pedestrian-paced, and makes the cardinal sin of paying homage to films far better than itself.

Perhaps, the film’s main problem is Bartkowiak, a cinematographer-turned-director, whose credits at the helm include Romeo Must Die and the Steven Seagal film Exit Wounds. He paints Doom in stylish blacks and greys, with futuristic colour flourishes, and doesn’t allow himself to show too much of the excellent production design, wisely keeping it in shadow. Yet, his control of off-screen space is less refined. He struggles to focus our attention as the messy plot that features caricature, paper-thin characters has them scattering all over the place. Bartkowiak doesn’t know whether to stick or twist, and we’re left with a languid pace that meanders on a very confused course. He draws too much on what other filmmakers have done before, and can’t overcome the clichéd script with its uninventive plot and awful dialogue. The film is also devoid of humour, something that has certainly helped other videogame and especially comic book adaptations.

Maybe I went into the film with higher expectations than I should have had. I didn’t expect an especially great action film, but I did expect a sense of adventure. When Bartkowiak goes to Doom-vision (filming the shot in much the same way as the game is played in first person perspective) I felt it was inspired. At the very least it celebrated the film’s roots, and gave the videogame fans something intrinsic to enjoy. It was also a very good piece of filmmaking (but arrives far too late in the movie), probably attributed to Bartkowiak’s cinematographic background, as he uses fast-paced edits and a claustrophobic mise-en-scene to place the audience directly into the action with danger all around. Yet, unfortunately, it’s one bright spot in a great expanse of humourless, tensionless black. Doom is uninspired, big-budget Hollywood. Where have we heard that before?

Rating: 1 out of 5

Children Of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, UK, 2006) March 22, 2007

Posted by Daniel Stephens in : 2000s, Drama, Film reviews, Sci-fi/Fantasy , add a comment

Alfonso Cuaron directs this bleak but brilliant adaptation of a P.D. James novel that looks at the U.K in 2027 when infertility has caused no babies to be born for nearly twenty years and sectarian violence is rife.

The film is hard-hitting, not just in its graphic depiction of violence and a society overrun by narcissism and government indignation, but in its believable view of a future not too distant from our own.

Clive Owen delivers a powerful performance as an ex-rebel forced into protecting the life of a woman who may be carrying the first child to be born for years. He’s ably assisted by the fantastic Michael Caine.

Cuaron’s photography is as bleak as the film’s outlook, painting London in dirty grays, it’s distinct red buses now blackened by years of wear and tear.

The film is thought-provoking, superbly-scripted, and almost perfectly executed. Cuaron is a director to look out for in the future as he already has the best Harry Potter film under his belt.

Lady In The Water (M. Night Shyamalan, USA, 2006)

Posted by Daniel Stephens in : Horror, 2000s, Film reviews, Sci-fi/Fantasy , add a comment

Somewhat of a return to form for M. Night Shyamalan, but Lady In The Water doesn’t reach the glorious heights of his best work Unbreakable.

There’s an innocence to the story that shines through, and Lady In The Water savours good storytelling. Perhaps ironically, it’s the film’s fundamental storytelling that lets it down - for example, there’s far too much exposition delivered in a haphazard way. However, Shyamalan’s love of a good bedtime story that is steeped in mysticism, magic, and folklore, jumps out of the movie with every transition, with every scene change, with every character.

Shyamalan also has time to have a dig at movie critics with the brilliantly realised Bob Balaban character. Balaban’s demise is one of the film’s best moments.

Overall, it’s a good film. I felt the photography could have been more inspired, but Lady In The Water is much better than The Village. Paul Giamatti holds it all together with an excellent performance and Shyamalan himself crops up in his biggest role to date.

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