Monday, April 5, 2010

M. Night Shyamalan... wha happen?

To be honest, I'm surprised he's still allowed to make big-budget movies. You think after the huge flop of "Lady in the Water", the big studio executives would get the hint... but no, they didn't-- and "The Happening"... happened:

Do the big studios keep hoping for the best? He did, at one time, seem to be the next Spielberg. After seeing "The Sixth Sense" for the first time (heck, even after multiple viewings), it was hard to find someone whose mind wasn't blown. His first major success garnered 6 Oscar nominations (no wins, sadly-- but thrillers traditionally lose out to more "dramatic" pieces, like "American Beauty") in 1999. Almost flawlessly executed all the way through, the twist ending caught even the most seasoned of "I called it!"-predictors pleasantly off guard. Surely it could only go up from here for Night. He started off so strong... "Sixth" proved he knew how to craft a good movie. Why hasn't it happened again?

Did he lower the bar for himself, or was "The Sixth Sense" just a simple case of... hate to say it: One-Hit-Wonder? You might say, "Maybe he's just good at making thrillers." But, "Signs" and "The Village" were just OK. (Some would argue "Village" was utterly horrible. I thought it was decent!) No hits out of the ballpark. Although "Signs" did prove to be fairly moving with its "everything happens for a reason" themes. But the reaction was nowhere near that of a classic.

Did he intimidate himself, and by now has lost all hope to make another genuinely good film?

His latest feature, "The Last Airbender" (minus the "Avatar:" because, hey! There's that other little one with blue people or something), is already off to a bad start by hiring an all-white live action cast for an all-asian anime TV show. Roger Ebert noticed: "The original series Avatar: The Last Airbender was highly regarded and popular for three seasons on Nickelodeon. Its fans take it for granted that its heroes are Asian. Why would Paramount and Shyamalan go out of their way to offend these fans? There are many young Asian actors capable of playing the parts."

So, that already starts things off with a bad taste in your mouth, doesn't it? Maybe not. But, for me, it does. Will it be an entertaining movie? Possibly. I'm guessing mildly. And, I hope Shyamalan doesn't have an awkward-obvious cameo.

The past ten years, he tried turning the twist ending formula into his trademark; but somehow it didn't work out for him. Maybe there's someone else out there who can piece together what happened. Maybe not.

-Sam Jackson


Anonymous said...

Robot Chicken makes fun of his twist in the best possible ways. But yeah, I think the words: hype machine describes his career best.

Royal Young said...

And let's not forget about The Village stealing two hours of my life I can never get back