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It seems this movie has taken a bit of heat, known by many as
Shyamalan's "worst" film. It is often written off as slow moving, and
the twist at the end as unoriginal and boring. I've heard people say
the acting and camera work was awkward and stale and that the casting
was poor. Ironically enough, as more people begin to dislike this
movie, the more I seem to fall in love with it. This film has a lot of
personal bearing with me, both as a student of psychology and a lover
of movies and just plain art. I feel like I've taken this film under my
wing during its times of criticism, and now I'd like to try and show
everyone what exactly I love about it so much.
Shyamalan really showed a stroke of brilliance by getting Serra to be his cinematographer and to play around with the aestetics of the film. I don't know how or where Shyamalan is getting these guys for his movies, but I definitely love the style of each frame he shells out. Serra had been involved with predominately foreign films before Unbreakable. This was his first big American film, and I think you gotta give a little credit to Shyamalan for that. His unique and creative touch really added to the direction. In keeping with the "comic book" theme of the movie, you will notice that almost every shot is taken as if you are looking through or in between something. Like the squares of a comic strip. There is also a dark, slightly blue colored filter used throughout most of the film. This gives the movie a very bold, but eerie tone. Showing that the world can be a rough and scary place, but it can also be fought and overcome. It is evident that time and effort went into every shot. It may not slap many viewers in the face as brilliant, but it really strikes a chord with me.
As for the score, I am more than willing to argue that this is, hands down, James Newton Howard's best score of his very successful career. It is compelling and booming. It's very powerful, but not over-the-top and excessive. For anyone with the soundtrack, check out 'The Orange Man' and 'Visions'. These are two of the most powerful pieces of any film score around. And I stress the word "powerful". Yeah, he's no Hermann or Morricone, but the emotional weight and emotive power of his chords and his overall composition are just downright chilling.
The writing and the direction are just as captivating as the score. Almost every line of dialogue and every scene seems to be placed out on an island, alone so that everyone can stop and judge it. Some people might view this as cocky and/or boring direction, but I see it as daring and unique. Much of Shyamalan's writing is done that way. ('…I see dead people…' '...They call me Mr. Glass…' etc. etc.) Another aspect of the film that tickles my fancy is the underlying themes. I do believe, to a certain extent, that people do have somewhat supernatural powers at times. People have been known to make miracles and do unbelievable things. Maybe these things could be 'developed' in some way. These theories are, in a way, intertwined with some aspects of psychology, such as selective attention and self-actualization. If you care to discuss some of these ideas, let me know and I will relate them to the film through my eyes. In short, I do believe there is a superhero in everyone. It may not be through supernatural powers, but it may simply be through the act of reaching out to a person in need. Other themes of the movie, like how completely different people can always be connected in some way and how everyone has their vulnerabilities and weaknesses are intriguing, yet universal. From a psychological point of view, Shyamalan really gets inside the head of OI patients (osteogenesis imperfecta). He then brings this psyche to the next level with Jackson's character. Elijah, is very passionate but very tortured and evil. His interactions with Willis bring depth and focus to both the characters and the story. Certain scenes in the movie are really quite striking and powerful. The shots of Willis in his security poncho. The train station scene. Elijah's breathtaking fall on the stairs and many more speak so loudly to me and say so much in just a simple clip. For some reason this movie just speaks to me, like art. If anyone cares to discuss more about this film, that'd be cool. There is a lotta other cool stuff to talk about with this movie. Just thinking about it makes me want to watch it a few more times. It may not be the feel good film of the year, or the masterpiece that everyone was looking for, but it definitely sits well with me.
I guess I can't be too surprised with all the negative responses that
Unbreakable is getting. These days, the masses don't appreciate a buildup
of atmosphere, strong character interaction, and stories heavily centered
characters and their psychology. Unbreakable has all of these traits, and
proves to be a superior movie to the Sixth Sense in my opinion. Too bad
it's so underrated.
I've seen this movie several times, and I have never even gotten tired of it. It does deal with comic books, but approaches it with a level of sophistication and intellect never found before in comic book movies. The movie walks a very fine line between reality and the comic-book world, at the same time walking a very fine line in terms of audience perception. Some chalk it up to be a silly comic-book movie, others a brilliant comic-book movie. And yet, there are still others that maintain Unbreakable's comic book theme does not exactly make it a comic-book movie. It's more of a drama, just like the Sixth Sense was more of a drama than a horror movie. Both are excellent dramas, but Unbreakable was superior in every aspect.
I especially admired the camera movement, and the framing of certain scenes to bring to life an actual comic-book. I also admired how Unbreakable was very light on dialogue, making full use of subtle gestures, movements, and actions to represent the character's thoughts. The character's environment plays a similar role and certain colors are often brought up to represent distinct emotions and thoughts the character has.
In the end, there are a number of things in this movie that can cause people to quickly denounce the movie, but these are all dependent upon perspective, as there's nothing truly wrong with the movie. In fact, if viewed objectively and with an open mind, the viewer might be much more apppreciative of Unbreakable.
It's clear that many of the posters to this comments area were truly angered by the movie and did not think their thoughts through prior to writing their comments, which is a shame as Unbreakable truly deserves better. If M. Night Shyamalan's next movie is at least half as good as Unbreakable, I'll definitely be in line to buy a ticket.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie will be the curious nugget in the collection of Shyamalan
films. It is great to see young writing and directing talent that is
carving a niche away from the usual fair while running with the big
boys and girls. Entering the mainstream was achieved through his
kick-off blockbuster, The Sixth Sense. If you are among the small cadre
of people who figured out The Sixth Sense's twist before the ending,
salute! Unbreakable continues Shyamalan's unorthodox view of things by
crafting a more 'mortal' superhero drama. Unlike Peter Parker (Toby
Maguire - Spiderman) who completely emerges as Spiderman (web-slinging
and building-hopping) within about 30 minutes of the whole movie, David
Dunn (Bruce Willis) is discovering his more subtle but extraordinary
abilities for the whole movie, with some help from his friends and
foes. Being able to stick to and vertically climb a building wall is a
fairly noticeable attribute (why it would occur to somebody to try it
escapes me) but never being sick in one's life may actually escape
one's attention. People develop mindsets that prevent them from
recognizing certain things until a suggestion changes that condition.
In this movie, being the sole (uninjured) survivor of a train crash is
a pretty strong suggestion. From there you watch the revelation unfold.
Yes, there is a villain but I won't spoil the movie for those who have
not ventured to try it. If you have been avoiding it after poor
recommendations from others, forget about The Sixth Sense and give it
an undivided attention DVD viewing.
Be patient and let it take you. I liked its subtle power. It implies a certain superhero quality in all of us.
M. Night Shyamalan seems to be proving himself quite the auteur.
Unbreakable was the cinematic experience I had hoped it would be, especially
after The Sixth Sense. A quiet sense of wonder permeated each and every
scene, accomplished with some of the finest cinematography I've seen in the
last couple of years. Director of Photography Eduardo Serra's execution is
subtle, understated and absolutely beautiful.
Cinematography legend Greg Toland of Citizen Kane and The Grapes of Wrath fame would be proud of what this film accomplished artistically. I also couldn't help but notice all the long camera takes this film had, reminding me of a few Woody Allen films that let the actors act without the intrusion of the film making process, i.e.; getting a scene covered from multiple and sometimes meaningless camera angles just so the director and editor have something to work with in post production. The characters seem at times to be acting for the benefit of the others on screen rather than "us", the audience, lending a quality of voyeurism to quite a few scenes. The directors intent is quite clear to anyone wishing to delve a little bit deeper into the story and characters while appreciating how such a vision came to breath on film.
With regards to the story, Mr. Shyamalan and his crew have constructed something so rich in visual texture while managing to keep the story subdued and character development full of deep-seated anticipation. Every plot point came perfectly without any extra connotations that usually creep into a story such as this (super heroes?). Without any melodrama both Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson give very authentic performances that help the film keep its "Any Town USA" and "Average Joe Six-pack" feel very much alive.
By virtue of ingenuity and most likely a meticulous preproduction period, Unbreakable manages to be a consummate clinic in directing, writing, acting, and cinematography. One of the best movies in the past decade.
This is a much better film than I ever thought it would be, and
intrigues me every time I watch it. Samuel L. Jackson's role is what
mainly inspires me to watch this multiple times. His character is
amazing and just leaves me shaking my head.
This is a pretty low-key movie with the other star, Bruce Willis, playing an extremely subdued role for him, almost too subdued. There are times in here when you keep waiting for him to say something, and he says nothing. Half the time he's barely audible.
But he and Jackson play off each other well, and this is very suspenseful film, even if a lot doesn't happen. To explain the story would almost ruin it, because it's preposterous. I'll just call an interesting fantasy-horror film with a little family story tied in with Willis' wife (Robin Wright) and young boy (Spencer Treat Clark).
"Unbreakable" is beautifully filmed, has very little profanity in it, and a strange, strange story with a great twist at the end....one of the best I've ever seen in a movie. This movie is done by the same man who did "The Sixth Sense," M. Night Shyamalan, so if you enjoyed that you probably would like this, too.....although it's so different I wouldn't want to predict who would like this film and who wouldn't. If you're open to try something different, give it a look.
My kudos to M. Night Shyamalan for proving the consistency of his
moviemaking abilities. "Unbreakable" is a movie that is rich in both
technical brilliance as well as script quality.
First, let me get my one objection for the movie off my chest. The ending could have been done better. The majority of the length of "Unbreakable" does an excellent job of building suspense, with the wonderfully muted, melancholy acting adding depth and tension to the plot. My problem is that it fails to live up to its own expectations; the ending does not consummate entirely what I expected it to. Somehow, in a movie that took painstaking details to illustrate every step and glance, concluding it in the manner that it did felt almost blasphemous. Maybe in a nameless action thriller it could be passed off as mere hackery. But here, it seems strangely out of place, kind of an enigma in itself...
Now that the ugly part is over with, I feel almost obligated to sing the praises of "Unbreakable". Shyamalan's prowess with photographic techniques and processes shows through in this, with rich reds and blacks given to scenes of moist emotion and colder colors dedicated to the bleak, uncaring (uncared for?) world. One technique I particularly liked was the manipulation of photographic mediums, some parts using crisp 35mm films and others using angry, shuttered magnetic (or 16mm?) film. In the end, it all worked very well, because each technique seemed to integrate seamlessly with the plot and mood (notice the confusion and panic at the very end?) "Traffic" is a good example of processing overdose. "Unbreakable", on the other hand, hones it perfectly. The lushness of this movie comes in close second to the wonderful eye candy of "American Beauty". I could watch it again easily... with the sound turned off!
On the more human side of the spectrum, the acting was wonderful. How nice it is to see Bruce Willis proving himself to be a true A-class actor! His unassuming and insecure behavior worked *perfectly* for this role. Samuel L. Jackson, like always, did a bang-up job with what the script gave him. Robin Wright and Spencer Clark's characters seemed a bit two dimensional, but they seemed to be minor roles compared to the prominence of Willis and Jackson's characters. A little character development would have been appreciated, but if the ending was a result of the time-constraint guillotine, then I would expect the developmental scenes to have gone too.
The thing that people seem to complain most about this movie is the plot. I like the premise. A little fantasy in our movies isn't such a bad thing once in a while, is it?
Willis finds out some strange things about himself after being the sole
survivor in a train wreck. Jackson tells him he's special. Is he
Unbreakable really is an act 1 superhero story stretched to feature lenght (Night tells us in an interview). Genius. For once I believe Willis is the person on screen, not that he's playing Bruce Willis, the cool actor. Night uses colors (mostly blue, purple and green) and well chosen camera-angles as imagesystems (word is that the storyboard read like a comic). Most of them really work out well. I loved the slow pacing of the film. It really takes it time to tell us what's going on. As usual Shyamalan puts human drama first in his script. The first scene where Willis meets the woman in the train... You have to see the genius of it. In a few lines of dialog Shyamalan let's us discover the character Dunn.
Another reason why I love this film is because Shyamalan shows he has courage to make THIS after the enormous success of The Sixth Sense, which I think is inferior to this film. I just know the studio execs where pushing for something more tangible than this, but he chose this instead. A homage to comic books. And it works! BEAUTIFUL!!
The final plot twist in "The Sixth Sense" made me wonder whether its director could repeat such a stunt, in "Unbreakable". Force us to follow the path he wants us to take, by telling his story, slowly, subtly leading us. Make us start to believe we know what will happen next, make us love the characters, then make us *want* things to happen next. Yes, tonight when seeing "Unbreakable", all that happens, again. And then, exactly like in "The Sixth Sense", he pulls the carpet right from under us, in the final seconds of the movie takes away everything, every expectation, he first gave us. Many people will be so disappointed by this that they will end up hating the movie. So did I, for about five minutes. Now I know the movie will make me think, literally move my thoughts, for a long time after tonight. I want to see it again, right now. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Hollywood has a new master storyteller. His name is Manoj Night Shyamalan.
I love this film. I'm the only person I know who doesn't hate it, but I
cannot fathom why it gets such a bad rap from everybody. It seems that
Shyamalan's films have this a running theme - with the notable
exception of the Sixth Sense, which pretty much everyone seems to get.
He makes movies that are very subtle, and which seem to need you to
focus on them just right to fully grasp what he was trying to do. I've
enjoyed all his movies, but for me the alien part of Signs takes a lot
away from what I believe to be the central storyline and as such the
whole movie suffers a little. Yet I know other people who think Signs
is his best, specifically because of the way the alien plot line
accentuates the central one.
Unbreakable is a beautifully simple film, but I think it has to hit you just right for you to completely get it. All the actors nail their parts, particularly Bruce Willis and his kid. Shyamalan takes an interesting (if slightly fringe) theory and puts it in a real world context, with a real family. Somehow he manages to never go overboard with it and - for me at least - it gripped me from the first moment to the last. Samuel L Jackson's character history is really nicely crafted in the middle of the other plot lines and you get genuinely involved in the people Shyamalan has created.
Don't get caught up in all the talk of the twist ending. The ending is good, but if you spend the whole movie waiting for this tumultuous twist you'll inevitably be disappointed, and the movie stands alone without it.
Don't go into this movie expecting another Sixth Sense or Signs. It's very very subtle and very understated. If you don't like slow movies, just don't watch this because it moves at a very sedate pace, but I personally think you'll be missing out. You'll likely either love it or you'll loathe it, but at least it will make an impression.
An hour and a half into this movie I wondered how Shyamalan would wrap the film up in a nice little package, without room for a sequel. I shouldn't of bothered. The film was superb and the ending was a bigger twist than The Sixth Sense. Anybody who doesn't get Unbreakable should stick to Disney films. Bruce Willis proves once again that he can act. Most of the plaudits for Sixth Sense went to the kid and Twelve Monkeys to Pitt, although Jackson is superb as usual, Bruce Willis steals the movie with a subtleness most screen stars cannot portray. Unbreakable is a great way to start off what should be a fine year for movies.
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