The Village

A Film Review By Jason L. King

Rating:Rated PG-13 for a scene of violence and frightening situations.
Starring:Joaquin Phoenix, Bryce Howard, Sigourney Weaver, Adrian Brody
Directed By:M. Night Shyamalan

Final Grade:

To me summer is all about big blockbuster films and fun in the sun. And nothing spells out fun in the sun more than a family grill out. After years of family get-togethers and lots of hot dogs, I have learned something. When it all boils down, there are two types of people, Ketchup people and mustard people. There may be many who will say that they can coexist on a hot dog, but with a little more prying they will admit that they truly do really like one far more than they like the other. There are also pickle relish people, but we aren’t talking about them yet. Why am I talking about Hot dogs, mustard and ketchup anyway? Does It really have any relation to the Newest M. Night Shyamalan film, The Village? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t, who really knows.

Set in the “1800’s” the story revolves around a group of people who built town years ago surrounded by woodlands. They were careful to create a “truce” with the creatures that lived in the woods, vowing never to go into the woods and they would never creep into their town. The superstitious villagers believed that they must never speak of them and never show any of the forbidden colors (red) on their clothes, or in their town. Obeying these rules kept the villagers in and the creatures out. All was going well for years and years, until the truce was broken and the creatures start to creep into the village for reason’s unknown. Bryce Howard, Newcomer actress and daughter of famed director Ron Howard does a great job as the film’s main character, Ivy Walker. She has the potential to be a great actress someday if given the proper amount of screen time. Once again M. Night Shyamalan gives his Signs Co-star Joaquin Phoenix a role in his film as the silent villager named, Lucious who falls in love with Ivy. Also joining the cast is Sigourney Weaver and a very interesting performance by Academy Award Winner Adrien Brody who plays the village idiot, Noah Percy, a mentally handicapped member of the village.

Writer, director and producer M. Night Shyamalan one again proves that he is the master of suspense with his new flick, as he has done time and time before with Signs, Unbreakable and his greatest work, The 6th Sense. The story is suspenseful and has the typical M. Night Shyamalan twist but this time it just doesn’t feel quite right. The 6th Sense twist was new and unexpected. By now we are all waiting for a twist in his films, and it just doesn’t turn out to be anything on the same level of the 6th Sense. Whether it is because the audiences are getting smarter, or M. Night Shyamalan stories are getting weaker is up for debate (I side with the latter). The story is weak in spots, and has its overall moments of cheese that keep it from being great.

The film’s flaws are easy to pick out, the most notable being the predictable ending. Also I had to question the character of Ivy a bit. We are told that Ivy is mostly blind, but by her actions I can’t figure out how blind she really is. Half of the film she is wandering around just fine able to see everything, and in the next scene she is waving a stick around blind as a bat without sonar. Her character would have worked a lot better is she had been written to be somewhat in a happy medium when it came to the degree of her blindness. M. Night Shyamalan also gives us the chance to see “the creatures” and just as they do in Signs, the creatures almost ruin the movie. Without giving away any endings or alluding to anything, you only hope that the creatures are fake, otherwise they are quite possibly the stupidest looking things on the face of the earth.

M. Night Shyamalan also fails to really explain the symbolism in his film. He shows us that “red” is the forbidden color and the creatures use it and yellow is the village safe color, but they never really say why it is used by each? Why was it determined that Yellow is the safe color? Why is red bad? Is it because the villagers like Mustard more and the creatures like ketchup? Is M. Night Shyamalan trying to show us the epic battle between two types of hot dog condiments? And the even more intriguing question to village has to be, how they got through the woods and past the creatures to build their settlement in the first place, and why in the world would they build it there if they were surrounded by “creatures?”

In the end, I have to say I did enjoy the Village. It has some great cheap pops and is suspenseful but doesn’t live up to my expectations that I had. This is quite easily the weakest of M. Night Shyamalan films and I only hope that he doesn’t continue to go down hill with his next film. Shyamalan is a great director and one of the most talented men in Hollywood. I only hope he gets back on track soon and wows audiences once again. As for if you should go and see the film, I leave you with the following: No matter what type of moviegoer you are, a Mustard lovers or ketchup lover this film is not for only one group. It’s just relish. This film might make your summer a little better, but all in all it’s not going to be the perfect hotdog off the grill this summer.

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