The Hulk vs The Happening
While I knew that the advance buzz was pretty weak on M. Night Shaylaman’s newest film “The Happening”, I was still stunned at how truly bad it is. First I’ll point out that I loved his early work. His Oscar nominated first feature “The Sixth Sense” was a bonafide sleeper with perhaps the most talked about twist ending in movie history. His second effort “Unbreakable” was a truly clever spin on the super hero origin story that was absorbing throughout and clamored for trilogy treatment. It’s one of my all time favorite movies.
“Signs” was a pretty entertaining Twilight Zone episode for the big screen that featured the first signals of silliness in storytelling to slip into the Shaylaman world but still I liked it. “The Village” was a disappointing failure with even more silliness than ever in his storytelling but its twist ending almost redeemed it. His last film, the critically lambasted “Lady in the Water”, a mermaid bedtime story fantasy was watchable for the performance of the always interesting Paul Giamotti but the silliness bug started to plague the director now more than ever and audiences and critics rejected it big-time.
Overall I think audience reaction to “The Happening” will be absolutely toxic as it s storyline about a wind carried toxin that makes people suicidal is laughable. Its scenes of characters running from the wind are as ridiculous as anything I’ve ever seen in a movie and shows that Shaylaman’s totally lost touch with his credibility as a good storyteller, plus the acting by Mark Walberg and Zoey Deschanel are as wooden as the tree in your backyard, and the dialogue between them at times is just plain strange. “The Happening” borders on Student filmmaker quality at times and will be on many a critics top ten worst of 2008.
As a big-time movie fan I hate to take a shot at anyone’s work this hard but the fall of quality in this producer, writer and director’s work is baffling. I truly hope M. Night will get his creative mojo back in full force because he is, or was, one of the more interesting storytelling talents in the business but I really believe Hollywood will be very gun shy about financing his next idea no matter how good or bad it might be. Only time will tell.
Universal got a solid but not a blowout 55 million dollar opening weekend out of their new “Incredible Hulk” movie. While probably not the definitive interpretation of the big
green comic book hero we might eventually see, it does have enough solid action set pieces to give the viewer their money’s worth.
While Edward Norton makes for a solid Banner, I wish they made a creative choice not to somewhat redo the 2003 Ang Lee version with a story line of the military pursuit of the Hulk and the character of General Thunderbolt Ross being so heavily involved. My best moment came when the Big Green Guy says “Hulk Smash” in the climatic battle with Abomination towards the end. I must admit my adrenaline started to pump and my 2 and a half year old daughter, Sydney, started hulking out as well in only her second movie going experience! LOL!
Personally I wish they would realize bigger isn’t always better and that’s why the classic CBS TV Series starring the late great Bill Bixby is the best hulk put on any screen. Still, I think this new Hulk movie is good enough to launch a series of films with Norton and I
certainly look forward to them. Oh, by the way, Stan Lee’s cameos in all these Marvel superhero films just keep getting better and better and the one in this film and in “Iron Man” have been a real treat!
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