In an overpopulated futuristic Earth, a New York police detective finds himself marked for murder by government agents when he gets too close to a bizarre state secret involving the origins of a revolutionary and needed new foodstuff.
Edward G. Robinson,
Elliot Moore is a high school science teacher who quizzes his class one day about an article in the New York Times. It's about the sudden, mysterious disappearance of bees. Yet again Nature is doing something inexplicable, and whatever science has to say about it will be, in the end, only a theory. Scientists will bring out more theories, but no explanations, when a more urgent dilemma hits the planet. It begins in Central Park. Suddenly and inexplicably, the behavior of everyone in the park changes in a most bizarre and horrible way. Soon, the strange behavior spreads throughout the city and beyond. Elliot, his wife, Alma, and Jess, the young daughter of a friend, will only have theories to guide them where to run and where to hide. But theories may not be enough. Written by
The bee disappearance Elliot refers to early in the movie is a real problem that threatens worldwide food production, because honeybees pollinate many fruits and crops. The problem is now referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). As of 2010, CCD has increased. Many theories have been presented, including radiation from cell phone towers, compromised immune systems, environmental changes (global warming), fungal infections, genetically engineered crops, malnutrition, parasites, pesticides, and viruses. None have been positively identified or ruled out as the primary cause(s). A combination of factors is likely involved. See more »
The locomotive leaves Philadelphia as a diesel electric. Later, in an overhead-view, the locomotive is electric, with a pantograph and other electrical equipment clearly visible. Later, it changes back to a diesel electric model. See more »
After the soaring success and near hysteria over "The Sixth Sense", a hysteria I didn't think it worthy of I might add, M. Night Shyamalan has failed to achieve the same level of success with subsequent efforts. I think it fair to say, however, that with each one he has gradually succeeded in becoming one of the most frustrating directors in the history of cinema. His initial ideas aren't at all bad (on the contrary, the ideas for his films tend to be rather compelling), but I have become rather accustomed to the fact that he nearly always drops the ball, the only variable from one film to the next being when this is going to happen. I say nearly, because in fairness "Signs" was a pretty well-crafted, gripping piece of work, albeit with a rather tenuous conclusion.
It turns out, with "The Happening", the ball is dropped rather quickly, and never really gets picked up again. It opens well enough, the first five minutes throwing us straight into the bizarre events, and fully achieves the intended audience reaction of, "What is going on?" Then we're back to that frustration, with our attention very quickly being drawn to other issues, like the misjudged pacing, the 'made for television" shooting style, the clunky dialogue that is often nothing more than plot exposition, and the pastiche performances that appear to have actually been directed to be as hammy and obvious as possible, because you don't get this level of awful by accident.
Even if an actor isn't particularly great, it takes a special talent to draw a performance from them that is as plastic as the plant they end up talking to. Mark Wahlberg is a perfectly competent actor; he won't be winning any "Best Actor" Oscars anytime soon, but it is fair to say he serves his purpose in a film, so you have to wonder how on earth it is that every line he delivers is stilted and unreal. At first I wondered if it was his discomfort with the material, but quickly realised this phenomenon applied to pretty much the entire cast; actors you recognise as good at what they do, looking completely out of their depth, a very strange experience.
A big issue I very quickly had with "The Happening" was the nasty sense I got of being patronised, and it even reached a point where I genuinely wondered if Shyamalan had decided with this film to do nothing more than make fun of his audience. As is nearly always the case, he develops ideas far above his station, and his view of himself as a visionary and hugely clever director gets the better of him. The problem being that this time, I suspect even he got lost in the ideas. With plot points and explanations (or lack thereof) being contradictory, it begins to feel as though he really never knew how he was going to resolve what he had set up in the first place, and so resorted to making it up as he went along. He ends up relying on the sound-bite that "we'll never really know everything", and expects that to be an acceptable coat hook on which to hang any unaddressed issue. This film does not give license for that, and the result is that he simply loses your trust.
So was there anything I liked? As I say, the premise is good, and the score works as best as it can with such an awful set of images. Note to director: Attempting to personify the wind with 'dramatic' shots of fields is not innovative, it's just stupid! After films like "Unbreakable", "The Village" and "Lady in the Water", all of which hit a different level of failure, you would think he would begin to accept he is simply an "ideas man", eat some humble pie, and pass all future thoughts on to somebody who can actually turn his ideas, which are more often than not perfectly fine unto themselves, into good pieces of cinema. Of course he doesn't! Instead, we get "The Happening", with Shyamalan once again doing everything (writing, producing and directing), and once again messing it up very badly! Better luck next time.
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