Reviews written by registered user
|3 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From what I understand, M. Night Shyamalan is a huge Hitchcock fan.
What struck me right away about "The Happening" is how much it reminds
me of Hitchcock's "The Birds." The theme of people caught up in the
mayhem when nature inexplicably runs amok is common to both films.
Modern man wants to think we are always in control and are pretty darn
smart. So when suddenly faced with a deadly situation that seems to
originate with nature, strong feelings of despair and impotence
surface. The realization that we simply can't win a fight with mother
nature quickly sinks in and we are left feeling very small. Conveying
this sense of despair is what "The Happening" attempts.
While "The Happening" is not a great film like "The Birds," there are many similarities. I wonder how a film like "The Birds" would be reviewed today. Plodding? Lacking action? I agree with Roger Ebert's review. This film is not a blockbuster action flick, and anyone who can't sit still for five minutes without a car chase or explosion, will probably be bored. But if you appreciate a film that doesn't rely on special effects to move the plot along, this film is worth a look.
I do agree with some of the negative reviews pointing out the weakness of some of the dialog in the film. (I especially did not care for the man who owned the plant nursery, who first guessed that plants might be behind the problems. His character really made no sense and was almost cartoonish.) I also agree that the message behind the film could be a bit more subtle, although I was not that put off by it. But the reviewers who are taking issue with the plot may be missing the point. How many films of this genre have a plot that really stands up to scientific scrutiny? The fun of these films is in the suspense and if throwing logic out the window for 91 minutes helps the fun, then I'm all for it.
This is not a great film, but if you are a M. Night Shyamalan fan, I think it is a step back toward his earlier promise and is worth seeing. You might want to wait to see it on DVD. I don't think it will lose much on the small screen.
Many good comments are already posted. I want to point out a few additional facts about the making of the movie that might be interesting to some. I remember reading a feature article about the making of Tom Horn in American Cinematographer or American Film or one of the other trade magazines. One technique that is very different for a major Hollywood film is that the filmmakers decided to use very little makeup on the actors in order to make the film a more realistic portrayal of life at that time. The fact that Linda Evans agreed to be photographed without makeup is a testament both to her natural beauty and her strong commitment to this film. Watch closely and you will spot many scenes where the lighting and makeup are unflattering to the actors, but the effect adds to the feel of this under-appreciated film. The costumes are also accurate for the period -- no belts (remember suspenders?), lots of wool and plenty of earth tones. In order to avoid the unpredictable weather and short summer in the location on the northern plains where the film is set, the movie was filmed in (if memory serves) Arizona. And guess what? Right in the middle of production, it snowed big-time! A quick decision had to be made whether to delay the filming or to go ahead, knowing that the snow would not last long in that climate (making continuity a problem). They decided to go for it and the shooting schedule was changed so that all outdoor snow scenes were shot over the course of a couple of days. This was a mammoth task for the crew and cast to pull off, but they managed to shoot all the outdoor scenes before the snow melted, and only had to use fake snow in a couple of street scenes. Anyway, Tom Horn was one of the first westerns to try and give a more accurate historical portrayal of the old west and that alone sets it apart from most Hollywood westerns.
When this film reaches the climactic shootout, it is a real cinematic
treat. Costner has a great feel for creating and choreographing complex
action scenes. There is one wide shot in particular that contains many
actors involved in a number of separate interactions carried out in a
masterfully-planned sequence. It is worth watching several times and
paying close attention to each individual shootout going on within the
larger scene. Costner has mastered the art of filling the screen with
The cast is outstanding and the love story is compelling and not typical Hollywood. As a real Western fan, I enjoyed this one enough to watch it several times. I think the plot offers something for everyone and I think it is one of those rare films that appeals to both men and women. It is certainly worth checking out.