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The Happening (2008)
It's Not Nearly as Bad as So Many Say It Is
The Happening is a very pivotal film in M. Night's career. It has one of the most unique stories M. Night Shyamalan has ever presented. His other stories are very good as well, but most of them are based off of concepts we've seen in movies many times before, such as aliens or ghosts, yet are looked at from a slightly different point of view (i.e. Signs, The Sixth Sense). The Happening, on the other hand, is a concept I've never seen before in cinema. The entire movie has a very creepy feel to it, not in the sense of a horror movie, but in a completely different sense that I can't even describe.
I try to understand why so many people loathe The Happening, and overall I think the main reason is that it could have been better. I agree with that, but at the same time, I think many people blow the movie's flaws WAY out of proportion. The biggest flaw is Mark Wahlberg's corny acting. In most of the movies I've seen Wahlberg in, he's very convincing, however, in this film, he's not. There are parts that almost seem like he's purposely trying to overact, and it's frustrating, considering that he is the main character. Although at the same time, there are some very convincing performances delivered by John Leguizamo and the lady who plays the wife, which make up for Mark's poor performance for the most part. Another flaw is the mediocre dialogue, although it's not anywhere near the worst dialogue in a movie I've ever heard, as I have definitely heard much, much, much worse (every crappy horror movie ever made comes to mind).
If this film were directed by some new director nobody's ever heard of, then I really don't think it would have gotten nearly as many bad reviews as it did. However, considering that this is an M. Night Shyamalan picture, people were expecting a masterpiece. People are expecting an incline in the quality of M. Night's films, but instead, they're only seeing a decline. Storywise, I'd definitely say The Happening is an incline in Shyamalan's career, but when it comes to the dialogue and some of the acting, I would agree that it's a decline. The story, although great, is a bit of a challenging one that many people may be thrown off by, and this may be another reason why so many people have a hard time with this film. Keep in mind, however, those of you who haven't seen it yet, that the flaws of this film are really blown out of proportion by critics and are not as bad as they are made out to be.
Batman & Robin (1997)
I never knew Schwarzenegger could drive me so crazy!
Ahhnold has had some pretty bad parts in movies before, but this one has to be his worst. Anybody who's read the Batman comics or seen the animated series knows that the Governator is not suitable for the part of Mr. Freeze. However, it really doesn't matter who would have played the part because the character's lines are written so terribly that it makes him seem like a total idiot rather than an intelligent scientist like he's supposed to be. Throughout the entire movie, he delivers enough cheesy puns to make you want to rip your hair out ("The ice man cometh!", and "Let's kick some ice!" to name only a few). That alone makes the movie very hard to sit through without breaking the television set.
The other elements of the movie aren't nearly as aggravating, but at the same time, they not very well done either. This movie reminds me a lot of the Fantastic Four movies, as well as many other lousy action movies of the past 10-15 years. It offers an endless amount of extremely far-fetched action sequences with paper-thin characters.
The biggest problem with Batman & Robin is the screenplay and the storyline, which both seem like they were written by a five-year-old, and director Joel Schumacher is also to blame for allowing such terrible writing. The actors try their best to do well at their parts, but they're offered such awful dialog that doesn't mentally or emotionally lead them anywhere throughout the movie, and Joel Schumacher probably wasn't much of a help either, so I'm sure it was difficult for them to learn how to work their roles. George Clooney's Bruce Wayne/Batman goes through none of the emotional turmoil that Michael Keaton's, Val Kilmer's, and Christian Bale's do in the other Batman movies. Instead, he's always talking down to Robin, and Robin just keeps whining like a spoiled brat and complaining about the same things over and over ("I want a car!", "I want my own robin signal in the sky!", "I'm tired of always following you around, Batman!").
Another problem with this movie is that there are way too many characters, and there's not enough involvement or depth to any of the characters for us to really care about them. Alicia Silverstone is only in the film for about five minutes. I like Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy because she actually fits her part, unlike Arnold does for his, but all she pretty much does in the whole movie is blow perfume at all the men to make them fall in love with her. Bane is the biggest example of a character who is paper-thin and underused in the film. I've never read the Batman comics, and I don't remember Bane in the cartoon, but I'm pretty sure that the Bane character is meant to be more than how he's displayed in the movie as a giant Hulk Hogan figure who talks like a caveman.
The bottom line is that Batman & Robin is very poorly done compared to all the other Batman films. The only positive comment I can make about it is that Alfred is involved in the story more than he usually is. I just watched this movie again for the first time in eleven years last night, and as you can see, I didn't like it too much. However, I remember enjoying it more when I was nine years old and I saw it in the theater. So if you're a child, then you might like this movie. You also might like it if you enjoy other sloppy action movies like Alien vs. Predator. Otherwise, unless you want to see how cheesy and irritatingly poor a Batman film can possibly be (this is even more cheesy than the T.V. show was), don't bother to add Batman & Robin to your Batman movie collection.