Friday, June 13, 2008

The Happening - nothing is happening

Yesterday, I had the choice of seeing Incredible Hulk or The Happening. Its hard to say why I chose The Happening, but I know now that I made a horrible mistake.

Years ago, I read CS Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, a book describing correspondence between a senior demon and his nephew. Uncle Screwtape gives some advice on how to turn a man from Christianity; he tells his nephew to get the man to accept local spirits and mysterious forces rather than the work of one God.

Lewis would have hated Star Wars and 'the Force' which seems the embodiment of his earlier argument.

As Star Wars is to religion, The Happening is to science.

The difference being, Star Wars was a fantastic movie. Thrilling and imaginative. I am still willing to watch it again (well, the original three of the series).

The Happening is bad or incomprehensible science and a weak plot but little character development.
Our survivors are mere pawns, required to do no more than stop, yammer, then simply push on, trying to vainly outrun a threat they barely comprehend. The cast tries heroically to infuse meaning into vague, unfocused lines, and there is a last act appearance by a psychotic recluse (played by Betty Buckley) that changes the entire tone into something akin to a backwoods exploitation effort. Link

I think Shymalan was trying to update On The Beach, but that was a thoughtful exploration of how people would cope with their mortality over the course of months, while this story takes place over about 26 hours and mostly involves a lot of running.

The people are running from rustling trees. I know that innocuous objects can be made terrifying (windchimes and empty, swaying swings from Nightmare on Elm Street still focus my attention), but wind and rustling trees are not all that scary.

Shymalan was interviewed on Science Friday. One interesting thing he said was that he was known for plot twists but he only made one movie like that. I would have counted two: Sixth Sense (of course) and The Village. True, in the Village, the twist is not at the end but it is close to the end.

Please, go see Incredible Hulk.

If you do watch the movie, help me out. Reviewers online describe Wahlberg as starting in Philadelphia, but I thought he started in New York and was fleeing to Phily. Am I so wrong? Did the reviewers see an early version of the movie that was changed for the commercial release?

Finally, if it were a better movie, it would be cool that we got to see it more than a day before it opens in the US.


PAKA said...

ahhhh....well, you saved me the choice. the hulk it is. reports say it's great for sheer entertainment.

kwandongbrian said...

I just saw it and yes the Hulk was good.

I am not sure if it was great, though. I liked it at the time but on reflection it doesn't stand out among superhero movies.

I liked seeing Stan Lee (man, with all these superhero movies, he's getting as much screen time in cameos as some regular actors) and Lou Ferigno (sp?), the TV series Hulk. It was also cool to see Toronto (filling in as New York) with the Hulk fighting next to Sam the Record Man.