By Craig Singleton (Wigan, England)
M. Night Shyamalan was once tipped to be the next Spielberg… it hasn’t quite worked out for him has it? Solid success with The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, but here’s where things take a tumble. Listen to the plot. “SPOILER ALERT”.
Aliens that are allergic to water so much that it can kill them decide to invade Earth which has more water than land… Does that make any kind of sense? Listen to this one. A race of a far superior intelligence to humans, struggle to open wooden doors!
It’s very big mistakes like these that can determine whether a film is good or not. This film is good and bad at the same time. Most scenes contain greatness as well as stupidity within them. Greatness to me in that the film is very well shot with quite a lot of close-ups and different angles used to build up the tension. Also very memorable scores are used to also build the tension, fright and used to help the viewer engage emotionally in the story. The stupidity however is the very weird dialogue and almost robotic performances of the main actors.
The story really is about widower and former priest Graham Hess played by Mel Gibson who finds out that his crops have been tampered with so he phones the authorities. Crop circles have been made throughout the world, and then UFO sightings, then alien beings are seen. Instead of focusing on the big picture, the film stays with Graham and his family. Will they survive the alien invasion?
There are so many aspects of this film that don’t quite make sense to me. Every time I watch it, I laugh. Shyamalan tries so very hard to keep the film a creepy tale of extraterrestrial life traveling to our planet with lots of water, but he fills a lot of scenes with comedy so it makes it very imbalanced. Another problem is that M. Night himself tells the audience of the revelation in the second act, when it should be revealed in the climax. His character says to Graham, “I don’t think they like water.” So basically they were defeated by fire departments across the world and small children with water pistols.
My verdict is, actually I love this film. It crosses the border of being bad so much in terms of writing and plot that it puts itself into the category of ‘So bad, it’s good’. I shouldn’t find it funny, but I do. The bland performances of Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix fit so well into the film in my opinion. I care about the characters who, even though aren’t the brightest buttons themselves are still smarter than those aliens.
My score for the film is 71%. Lowest mark for writing, highest for soundtrack. It sparks the downfall of Shyamalan’s career in terms of critical aspects because of the accidental humorous dialogue and confusing plot points. This being said, I like the main characters even though they have no personalities and the way the film mixes in with television to try and make it seem like the media would react this way if an alien invasion was to happen in real life.
How could they not know that the Earth is mainly made up of water?! Maybe they’re not as intelligent as the world thinks, if they do exist.