The Rise and Fall of M. Night Shyamalan



I have an obsession with superheroes. I grew up on comic books and the movie Unbreakable brought an adult sense of wonder to the same ideas. It was the first dark and gritty comic movie that I remember watching. Who wouldn’t want to be indestructible? And the idea of the polar opposite in Mr. Glass was an incredible stroke of genius.

M. Night hit a second movie out of the park with the supernatural thriller The Sixth Sense. This is still the movie that defines that twist at the end of a movie. The Sixth Sense was suspenseful and extremely character-driven as we follow the emotional journey of a young boy who is completely alone and yearns for some sort of friendship and finds it in the strangest place.

My favorite of the Shyamalan movies was Signs. It was a story of faith and hope interspersed with aliens with aquaphobia (not hydrophobia, that’s rabies). Maybe aliens with rabies would be scarier. Someone should make that.

Mel Gibson was amazing and Joaquin Phoenix began his journey to the top (and like Shyamalan, soon plummeted back to Earth). There wasn’t a significant twist, compared to the Sixth Sense, but there was more of a reveal about the weakness of the aliens.

This movie was suspenseful and scary and yet still packed an emotional punch.

Sidenote: Did you know M. Night Shyamalan also directed the movie Stuart Little? The more you know…

After Signs, Shyamalan starts to get a little weird. Here comes The Village, what I consider to be the moment he jumped the shark (no, that’s not the twist at the end of the movie, though that may have been an improvement).

                       Yes, that’s Jesse Eisenberg, known for his hit “Rio”
The Village had the possibility to be amazing. Fictional small town, some sort of monsters terrorize them at night, and Adrien Brody is crazy. Formula for an awesome movie.
I remember seeing the movie at Tinseltown USA in Medford, OR. I have never felt so let down. The monsters weren’t real. They were costumes. And then it wasn’t even a fictional city in the middle of nowhere, it was like… next to a highway. I don’t think I’ve ever been so betrayed. <- exaggeration
I think M. Night had a crush on Bryce Dallas Howard and then wrote a ridiculous movie to follow The Village which I believe is a travesty and an all-time low in cinema history.

Lady in the Water was downright horrible. I know some of you will fight this but I will go down fighting with you. There is a woman from another world who traveled here using pipes of some sort into a swimming pool. She is followed by a wolf made of vines. He is then followed by gorillas made of vines who want to kill him. The only way to save her is by uniting some sort of weird superhero team consisting of a guy with only one strong arm, a weird movie reviewer who’s only purpose is to provide a self-aware sense of humor, a kid who’s good at puzzles, a cranky old man, and then M Night Shyamalan as a writer who writes the greatest story ever written and changes THE WORLD. Oh my GOD that is horrible (and over the top arrogant). This whole plot doesn’t make sense. Is it about fate? The movie just throws out weird phrases that we’re supposed to buy into.

“You are the Seeker because you played hide and seek as a kid!” But then ten minutes later, someone ELSE turns out to be the THING THAT WE DON’T CARE ABOUT. I don’t care who is the Provider or the Mother or the Finder or the Protector or whatever. I’m curious how a wolf can be made out of vines and still be biologically alive and able to act on its own volition. And how did he travel through the pipes? And what does Paul Giamatti have to do with anything? It is a ridiculous story.

And then M. Night was like, “You know what would make this cooler? Let’s call her a Narf.”

Narf! So ridiculous. And what is the vine wolf called? A scrunt. This doesn’t even sound … appropriate.

It felt like M. Night was trying to create some sort of fate-driven dark-fantasy tale but it was over the top ridiculous.

“Fine,” says M. Night, “I’ll make my next movie have an even cooler villain.”

Ooh, what’s up there? The villain.

In the Happening, M. Night decided to not have a twist and just have the whole movie be weird. Instead of a normal antagonist of some sort, he vouched to have the trees kill people. It gets windy and people start committing suicide. It is the weirdest movie ever. <-another exaggeration

And then there’s The Last Airbender. I appreciate what he tried to do. I’ve watched the entire Avatar series twice since the movie came out and I now understand why the public was so angry. He tried to cram in an entire season of content into a feature film. Of course he had to cut stuff out. But maybe he shouldn’t have spread it so thin. Make a good movie, not a visually stunning Cliff Notes. I enjoyed the movie when I first saw it, because I had no idea how awesome the source material was. Now, I sigh. Word on the street is that he’s continuing to make these films, even though The Last Airbender received one of the lowest rankings ever with a whopping 6% rating.

One of my biggest complaints with The Last Airbender was that he obviously didn’t take a lot of effort to work with his child actors. The lead in Airbender was like… horrible. After Haley Joel and the kids in Signs… He has worked magic before.

I never saw Devil so I can’t attest to if it’s good or not. Anyone?

Anyways, that is the rise and fall of possibly the director/writer with the most potential at one point in cinema history before he blew his chance. Stuart Little 2 anyone?


About adamryen

Entertainment. Gaming. Dreaming.
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6 Responses to The Rise and Fall of M. Night Shyamalan

  1. Timurhan says:

    Actually, Unbreakable *did* come after Sixth Sense. Just checked it out. Sixth sense came out in 1999, whereas Unbreakable was released in 2000.

  2. Alex says:

    I mostly agree with this assessment. Sixth Sense was a great debut for him, and Unbreakable was my personal favorite. I went into Unbreakable having only seen the marketing for the film, which didn’t really clue the audience in to the comic book angle at all. Knowing only that it was about a guy who survived a train wreck and discovering the clever take on superheroes was a revelation. When the text screen at the beginning of the movie with all the comic statistics came up, my dad and I thought we had walked into the wrong movie. It was an incredible experience.

    I know you’ve highlighted the guy with the beefy arm as a terrible thing about Lady in the Water, but I also happen to think it’s the best thing. It’s hilarious!!!

  3. adamryen says:

    Correction: Sixth Sense came before Unbreakable. This is just the order that I watched them I guess.

  4. Kate says:

    Love your writing style Adam, this post made me laugh several times. Can’t wait for more!

  5. jacqueline says:

    i think that the biggest problem with the village is that it was marketed as a horror film. at its core, it’s a love story, and an exceptionally beautiful one at that. the monster aspect of the film is definitely a let-down after the hype, but the movie has some really great things to say about trying to care for those we love.

    also, i’m probably still a little bitter that my mom wouldn’t let me go see it in theaters because the commercials made it seem so scary…

    ps: james newton howard’s work in shyamalan films always blows me away, especially in the village and signs. i think the music is my favorite part of signs (which doesn’t discredit the movie at all, i just like score)

  6. Dannie says:

    “Devil” sucked. Corny, weird, bad acting, not even scary. And I’m scared of watching “Labrynth”. 🙂

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