[Now Experiencing] [Film]
A small group tonight for Lady In The Water, which did indeed deserve its status as a Bad Movie Thursday.
There's a good movie trapped in that film somewhere, and if you listen closely in the quiet bits you can hear its demented screams coming from whatever narrative dungeon it's been consigned to.
Whereas other Shyamalan films have been subtle and understated (occasionally to the point of tedium), Lady In The Water goes over the top in spelling out the bleeding obvious at every juncture, firmly adhering to the "tell, don't show" school of writing pioneered by such literary masterpieces as Dick & Jane and The Eye of Argon.
In the modern age of cinema, it's actually quite rare to be able to tell when an author is just making it up as he goes along, but in Lady In The Water you can see that unique quality shining brightly through the plot holes. You have to wonder whether M Knight Shyamalan possibly completed the script the night before filming commenced, or just gave the outline to some primary school students and asked them to fill in the details.
The main fault with Lady In The Water is that it doesn't know what sort of film it wants to be.
The chief spine of the plotline follows a fantasy quest, where a mysterious mermaid from another dimension is hunted by demon wolf-thingies and must gather about her a cadre of talented individuals in order to escape back to her homeworld via a magical eagle. There are various rules about how the mermaid and her spooky country work, which we learn through big lumps of jarring and unlikely exposition pretty much every five seconds throughout the movie. The residents of an apartment complex called the Cove luckily apparently see magical mermaids every day, and are able to rally together at a moment's notice to follow a plan divined by a small child from the back of a cereal box to do something vague which somehow saves the day while the wolves are eaten by killer monkeys.
Killer monkeys, you say? Why yes! Not content with merely being a urban fantasy, the movie also delves shallowly into the realm of metaphor. It has something very important to say about civilisation and identity and war and peace and violence and love, and it blurts its message out with a kind of autistic enthusiasm. Luckily most of the metaphor gets eaten by the killer monkeys, so you don't have to worry too much about that side of the film.
If you've seen the trailers, you'll probably also think the movie might be a little scary. And it is, in parts. If you're excited about them, here's a hint: while watching, try not to blink.
The best moments of the movie really come from its most sincere storyline, which is a tale about community. It's a tale about groups of disparate people coming together in a common cause, and sharing with each other, and together becoming more than the sum of their parts. It's a good thing you've seen other movies like that, because you can just draw from those films to fill in all the bits that this one leaves out, like characterisation and emotion and overcoming difficulties and hope triumphing over all, and suchlike. It's really very efficient.
Don't let the Shyamalan name on the posters fool you - this is not a good movie. It barely even makes it into the realm of "kind of average". Trust me - Bryce Dallas Howard doesn't wear any pants the entire movie, and that still doesn't save it.