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The Village (Widescreen Vista Series) (2004)

A movie directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

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Is This a Joke? If So It Wasn't Very Funny

  • Jul 28, 2009
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After films such as The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs became huge successes, M. Night had pretty much established himself.  An article in Newsweek went so far as to name him the next Steven Spielberg.  By now Newsweek is probably denying they ever said that, but they did.  And most of us wanted to truly believe that.  In terms of directing, there's really not much wrong with M. Night.  Truly not.  He usually has good camera work and a good atmosphere about his films.  It is as a screenwriter that M. Night probably has several issues as a film maker.  While The Happening is the new joke of M. Night's inability to write a good screenplay, it was The Village which first brought him into question.  But mostly this began us all believing that perhaps M. Night just wasn't cut out for all the twists anymore.

The Village was one of the most anticpated releases of the summer of 2004.  Because when you're the guy who made oodles of money off of three other films that also became well liked, expectations do become high.  Besides, M. Night was one of the masters of horror in film. 

To begin, this review is going to contain lots of spoilers.  Lots and lots of spoilers, if only because I find that this is a movie that perhaps you really ought to know what you're getting before you go see it. 

Now, I know you were expecting The Village to take place in the middle of New York City, but no, it takes place in a village.  Here the village denizens are kept in the village by monsters who are only referred to as "Those they do not speak of."  There are three central characters the movie focuses.  There's Ivy Walker (played by Bryce Dallas Howard), Lucious Hunt (Jaoquin Phoenix) and Noah Percy (Adrian Brody).  Each character is strange their own way.  Ivy is blind and Noah is something of an oaf.  Each of the actors does a fantastic job in who they play--especially Bryce Dallas Howard.  The movie finally jumps into plot when Lucious is stabbed by Noah.  You see, they both have affections for Ivy Walker. 

Once this happens, it falls on Ivy to leave the village and save Lucious.  This is where we are treated to one of The Village's first "twists".  The first being that the monsters whom they fear are in fact, just people in the village dressing up as these monsters and scaring people to keep them in the village.  Lucious needs medicine and the best solution is to send a blind girl out of the village to go and get it.  And yet there is still a monster in the woods.  On her journey she manages to outwit the monster... only for us to find out that Noah swiped one of the costumes and put it on himself. 

The final "twist" we're treated to is when Ivy gets outside the village to find the medicine.  What's the big twist of M. Night's film?  Why that the village they've been living in is fake.  They're in modern day the entire time and the village was designed so that they could live in "simplar" times.  To sit through a film for two hours to discovers this is not exactly all that fun.  Especially considering the movie doesn't get off to a bad start.  It manages to build up suspense and draw us in.  But as it keeps going on it only becomes more depressing to watch.  To find out everything is fake makes the twist in and of itself predictable.  But worse than that is how we all come to say, "Seriously, what's the big secret?"  But it is that The Village is fake.  Coming out of the theater in 2004 I still find I was jipped.  I've made a pact with myself that if I see M. Night on the street I will steal his money in a similar way that Stan and Kenny did to Mel Gibson after sitting through The Passion of the Christ (which reminds me, I need to get my money back from George Clooney for sitting through Batman and Robin... and Clooney says he'll actually give you your money back too!). 

The sad part is that M. Night most certainly isn't a bad director.  He may just not be cut out for writing.  The Sixth Sense was kind of a lucky deal... as was Unbreakable.  But from there his films dwell down into screenplays that don't really make a lot of sense.  The Village may not be as convoluted as The Lady in the Water, or as horribly bad as The Happening, but after the fiasco M. Night's solution was actually to act as though those who didn't like The Village were simply dumb.  As a director he still manages to do a lot of good work.  He can always build a good atmosphere and he often has a lot of neat camera tricks and whatnot.  His movies would probably be better if uh... he didn't write them.  I can't imagine most people wanting to sit through a film for two hours only to find out it's all fake.  That's akin to when you watched those TV shows as a child where all these terrible things happen only to discover the main character dreamed it all.  It's very rare that the ending of a fim can make it less enjoyable.  But The Village manages to do that.  Especially because there just wasn't much to the film in the first place.

It has a good atmosphere and has a good performances for the most part.  It also has a good and terrifying soundtrack.  It is mostly the story in and of itself that makes The Village a drag of a movie.  And the idea that M. Night can't seem to accept that he created a movie which doesn't appeal to the masses in quite the same way his previous projects did.  The Village might've been more amusing had it just been all around more interesting... and if its twists were better and made more sense.  Remembr how pissed off you were when you find out the monster that terrorized you in the middle of the night was actually one of your friends wearing a ghost sheet?  Or a parent trying to scare you?  Or how when someone played a cruel joke on you and laughed... say they told you someone very close to you was in a car accident, then laughed when you found out that wasn't true and that it was a joke?  The twists found in The Village sort of feel like that.  They're weak and unconvincing.  Especially because Shyamalan plays up a lot of the suspense.  It's like listening to someone scream that they're being attacked by a monster and you go and discover it's just... a spider drawn on a piece of paper. 

So what other twists could M. Night have afterwards?  How could he sink lower?  Well, there is "The Happening."  And The Lady in the Water didn't have enormous twists it was a convoluted mess.  It seems M. NIght never really grasped that spark back which made him famous and well known.  Is he a talented director?  Sure.  But if The Village was really the precursor of things to come... do we really want to see that many more M. Night films?

It sounds like I'm going on and on a little too much about that plot twist, but that's because it feels like such a throwaway twist... like the rug was pulled out from under the audience and they were left with their face planted in the ground.  There's such a huge build up for not only a predictable twist, but a twist that you leave the theater saying, "Did we really just sit through a movie called The Village where all the suspense was drawn out to show us a village was fake?"  It's a twist you don't want even before you're given it.

The Village was, by and large a financial success, despite a huge drop off in the following weeks.  It's hard to really love The Village with such disappointing structure and such disappointing twists.  Even if you loved it before you discovered the twists, you probably found the twists to be quite weak and something of a letdown.  Of course, you'll still find those who think the twist was genius and others who will dig and dig and dig to find out just what M. Night was trying to say.  There have been lots of different interpretations to what M. Night means.  And while many of the movies defenders will try their hardest to pull out something intellectually stimulating about it... being intelligent doesn't necessarily make a twist... good.  And most of us are still baffled by what M. Night was trying to say.  That doesn't stop him from thinking The Village was some kind of genius movie that most people just didn't understand.  That might actually be a true given how many think they know what it means and how many more don't even know what to think.

It's very rare when I say a movie is a waste of time.  I happen to enjoy watching movies I don't like because even if I don't like them.... let's be honest, picking at them is fun.  The Village doesn't give you much fun to pick at either.  It's just such a letdown.  

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November 15, 2010
There you are....but THE LAST AIRBENDER is still Shyamalan's weakest flick LOL!
July 29, 2009
I don't agree with you there at all. I don't enjoy watching movies I don't like. I go into the theater hoping to like each and every movie I see because otherwise what's the sense in it? It's like going out on a date with a guy who used to call you names when you were in elementary school and STILL DOES! I think you're probably right about Shyamalan's weakness bring the fact that he isn't a great writer because this is my favorite director's problem as well--Sam Raimi just isn't a great writer although he's a fabulous director, and somebody needs to tell him before he completely screws up the 2 additional SPIDERMAN flix he's signed on for.
More The Village (2004) reviews
review by . November 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Spooky fun
Life in the tiny 19th century village of Covington Woods is idyllic; the townfolk live in harmony, completely isolated from the distant Towns that are feared and never visited. The only problem is the constant threat of the hideous, red monsters that lurk in the woods and send the villagers rushing to their cellars every so often. Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard), the plucky, blind daughter of elder Walker (William Hurt), has fallen in love with strong and shy Luscious (Joaquin Phoenix), son of the Widow …
Quick Tip by . October 19, 2010
I liked this more than the rest of my family did. They seemed to feel cheated by the ending. I felt like it was inevitable and nicely done.
review by . September 09, 2009
   I know that this movie has a lot of bad reviews because many people did not like the ending. But I did. Though I kind of figured out some of it the first time a creature makes its appearance, I had no problem with it.       The acting is first-rate! The movie seems to flow very well. It never seemed to get boring. There is some nice comic relief such as when a group of youths play "chicken" against the creatures by going into the woods and seeing how long …
review by . June 20, 2006
M. Night Shyamalan definitely did himself a disservice in releasing "The Sixth Sense". Brilliant as the film was, its "twist" ending was so powerful that audiences the world over expected nothing less from the talented young director. And so, Shyamalan has been trying with every single outing since to recapture that sense of awe.    Although many have made scathing remarks about the ending of "The Village", it is perhaps his most perfect since "The Sixth Sense"; though by no …
review by . July 31, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Great story idea, fantastic ending, fitting atmosphere, great actors...     Cons: ...who had no chemistry. Story needs more "filling"     The Bottom Line: Unfortunately, I nodded, and you probably will too. It's a great story idea, but you'll want to wait for this one on video.     I have been seeing previews for the Village for who knows how long, and have been eagerly awaiting its release in the theatres. Directed, written, and …
review by . January 23, 2005
Nay-say what you will, M. Night Shyamalan is consistent in his apparent mission to encourage his audience to look beyond the obvious to discover aberrant alternatives to the explanation of nature, including humans and their motivations. THE VILLAGE is a very good movie if taken as another chapter in Shyamalan's odyssey. If it doesn't have the shock jolt that his early successful film THE SIXTH SENSE had, then perhaps it is more because we as audience are beginning to understand his take on reality …
review by . January 17, 2005
"The Village" is the latest heaping helping of creepiness served up by M. Night Shyamalan. There are plenty of twists and turns(as expected), and an excellent ending, but the guts of this story run a little thin.    I won't spoil this story for anyone by saying what will happen, but I offer a brief synopsis of what's going on in the film. A small village of people are living in an area surrounded by Covington Woods. As long as they do not cross into the woods, the creatures that …
review by . January 15, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
In THE VILLAGE, the people in a small, rural Pennsylvania town of yesteryear have a pact with creatures who live in the woods surrounding the village. The townspeople stay out of the woods and the creatures stay out of the village. But then the creatures begin appearing in the village. No one knows why. Strange and unusual events occur more frequently until an attempted murder is made upon one of the village's most promising future leaders, Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix). In order to save the young …
review by . August 03, 2004
Pros: Good Cast and Setup.     Cons: Bad pacing and absurd finale.      The Bottom Line: A grand premise destroyed by absurdity.     Deep within a lush meadow a thriving community is enjoying a communal dinner following the passing of a young member of the town. The smiles and laughter that emerge from those seated at the table hide that fact that the town lives in perpetual fear of an unspeakable evil.   The towns residents are …
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Sean A. Rhodes ()
Ranked #7
I'm a more analytical person. I believe that the purpose of the review is not for me to give you my opinion but for me to give you an analysis and help you decide if you want to get it. If you reading … more
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Even when his trademark twist-ending formula wears worrisomely thin as it does inThe Village, M. Night Shyamalan is a true showman who knows how to serve up a spookfest. He's derailed this time by a howler of a "surprise" lifted almost directly from "A Hundred Yards Over the Rim," an episode ofThe Twilight Zonestarring Cliff Robertson that originally aired in 1961. Even if you're unfamiliar with that Rod Serling scenario, you'll have a good chance of guessing the surprise, which ranks well belowThe Sixth SenseandSignson Shyamalan's shock-o-meter. That leaves you to appreciate Shyamalan's proven strengths, including a sharp eye for fear-laden compositions, a general sense of unease, delicate handling of fine actors (alas, most of them wasted here, save for Bryce Dallas Howard in a promising debut), and the cautious concealment of his ruse, which in this case involves a 19th-century village that maintains an anxious truce with dreadful creatures that live in the forbidden woods nearby. Will any of this take anyone by genuine surprise? That seems unlikely, since Emperor Shyamalan has clearly lost his clothes inThe Village, but it's nice to have him around to scare us, even if he doesn't always succeed.--Jeff Shannon
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Director: M. Night Shyamalan
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: January 11, 2005
Runtime: 108 minutes
Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment / Touchstone
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