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"The Village"

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
Written by M. Night Shyamalan.
Starring Bryce Dallas Howard, Joaquin Phoenix, Adrien Brody and William Hurt.
Release Year:  2004
Review Date:  8/2/04


M. Night Shyamalan really does have to consider making a movie that doesn't require a twist, because as it is, relying on surprises to make his movies work has had mixed effects, to say the least.  Is "The Village", his latest effort, more like the Oscar-quality "The Sixth Sense" or more like "Unbreakable", which was more like "Unwatchable" for most of its running time?

The answer, this time around, is B).  See, watching "The Village" is a chore because you spend the first 30 minutes just kind of waiting to be scared, and you don't even get any of that in a small Pennsylvania village where the Elders, led by a professor (William Hurt), run the town by just taking it easy and living like commonfolk.  In the clearing where their tiny abodes have been set up, they live out their lives most happily, sweeping the patios with a kick of the heels and dancing and eating the night away like the 1890s version of "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."  They can live this nicely because they have a, well, understanding with the local monster mash, since Those That We Can't Talk 'Bout 'Cause They Be List'nen--a horde of nasty creatures--live in the forest that surrounds the clearing.  But, when one of the locals (Joaquin Phoenix) makes a trip into the forest and crosses the monster divide, things get hectic, people die, and all sorts of nonsense happens from there.

First off, it should be known that I dropped full theater price to see "The Village."  This is important, because I'm always harsher on films that I pay $9.00 to see.  When the film finally gets going, it was putting me to sleep.  Man, was I bored!  I was kind of hoping that the creatures would come out and put the hurtin' on a local drunk, or some of the young locals would commit to a gratuitous sex scene, or just a little somethin' to keep daddy interested.  Uhh, no.  "The Village" dies early, friends; it builds nothing interesting in terms of a storyline--you are only waiting to see what the things in the woods look like--and the characters are all so nondescript that you are left not caring about any of them.  Then, you're kind of just HOPING that one-by-one they'll be offed in their sleep, and in a PG-13 you are never going to get that.

I was so bored that I was starting to doze mid-film when we get our first little twist; maybe "twist" is the wrong word, even if you don't see it coming, because it isn't the kind of turn-this-film-on-its-ear twist that makes you sit up and reassess just where the freakin' movie is going!  Then, you get things with monsters, and a blind girl named Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard...yeah, that's a girl's name), and peasants, and big pits, and...I just didn't care!  I kept hoping that the movie really wouldn't be 120 minutes long, but I was wrong on that one, too.

Here's what's not bad:  the setup, which you do not learn until the end of the movie.  I liked that a lot, for reasons that I won't go into so as to not ruin the film for those that haven't seen it.  But, most everything else here blows.  The dialogue sucks.  As I have mentioned, the "twists" we get are nothing like the ending of "The Sixth Sense."  The storyline for the film's last 30 minutes is horseshit, through and through, and I was annoyed to have to even sit through that.  The film is too long for a one-trick pony; cut the film by 15 minutes, and we're in business.  The blind girl logistics suck.

Man, I'm pissed right now.  I can't write about this any more!

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09