Is M. Night Poised For A "Comeback"?

I for one like M. Night Shyamalan.  He’s visionary yet classical, revealing yet secretive, twisty-turney yet plain as day. People even compared him to a modern-day Hitchcock. To me I think he started strong and while his style was there in every movie, it seemed his movies began to fall flat as of late.

When The Sixth Sense came out I was just floored. I was not prepared at how unexpected the ending would be. Rob and I spent the hour ride home talking about how bulletproof it was – it was a perfect movie. Unbreakable came out and again that crafty SOB shocked me at the final moment when one was revealed the hero, the other the villain.  Wow…but again it was all there right in front of you which made the sum of the parts all aces in my book.

Signs was a different approach. I found difficulty believing that the aliens were real since most of the proof in the movie was questionable, leading me to believe it was the work of  “nerds who can’t get girlfriends”.  I think I, like most people, began looking for the ‘ah-ha’ moment and almost missed more of the important points of the story.  He wove a different type of story but the end still got me.  ‘Wow’ was all I could say.  It was his best to date.

After The Village came out, I was a little disappointed.  After Signs, I think he lead people to believe that sci-fi creatures or monsters exist.  I thought so, which is why I was totally stoked to see those creatures in red cloaks.  When it turned out that “the ones we do not speak of” were just costumes, I was a little set back and I don’t think that the ‘real’ shock ending was fulfilling enough to make me get over that disappointment. Lady in the Water, which, to this day, I still don’t know if I totally hate it.  There, he went back to the sci-fi creature/monster basket and pulled out a well-intentioned but sadly bland film.

Like some other movies I wrote about, I didn’t not like The Happening.  Again it was a good premise but the story got weak after the shocks in the first 20 mins. It tried to be like Signs but the events leading up to the end just got silly. I personally think he wasted his first R-Rating and tried to get hype built on that alone.

So that’s a brief look back at his work and after all this time we are almost at the release date for his live action adaptation of  Avatar: The Last Airbender and I’m actually pretty excited about it (despite never having seen the show).

A departure, yes, but something new could work in his favor, like going from The Matrix to Speed Racer.  Now, I’d like to state something.  The Wachowski’s didn’t fail with Speed Racer, they just spent waaaay too much money on budget.  Secondly, (Night are you listening?) they just stuck too close to the source material trying to please the die-hard fans and ended up going over the heads of causal fans.  Night has talent, but I just think you can’t hit a home run with every movie. I’m excited to see something different from him – I mean, keeping you guessing is what he’s known for, right?

Anyone out there feel good about his change of pace, or do you want to see a return to form?

Comments

  1. Have a hunch that this is gonna be another misstep for the guy. This dude’s career is effing horrendous at the moment.

    • I’m pulling for him. Usually I root for an underdog and hope against hope for certain movies to succeed. That said, I give this a generous 68% chance of succeeding. Hell at least it’ll get kids in the theater to see it.

  2. Dreher Bear (...Where The Buffalo Roam) says

    His career has gone down the tubes. However, I feel like he will make a comeback one day (not with The Last Airbender, critically at least)

    • Very much in agreement. This won’t what gets him back on track but it will help. I think he should team up with Rodriguez, Snyder or even Richie for a double feature film similar to the Grindhouse Planet Terror/Deathproof films. But that’s really wishful thinking:P

  3. First and foremost, I’d like to say that you MUST watch the show. It’s epic beyond measure.

    That being said, and establishing my bias as one of those die-hard fans of the animated work, I don’t know if Shyamalan will ever live up to the standard of hardcore Avatar: The Last Airbender fans like myself. …It’s a pretty high standard. And I’m not saying that to be like, an annoying Avatar fan, I’m just being honest here, a LOT of work went into the production, and the fans praised the staff quiet deeply during the time the show was being aired.

    Personally, I would -like- to see a movie that follows the cartoon closely, but even if it were nearly the same as the show, it still wouldn’t match up, and I think from a filmmaker’s point of view, he would want to reach a wider audience anyway. I’m rooting for this movie to be a good box office showing, though it’s hard to say at this point what direction it will take.

    • Thanks for the great comment Gina, and welcome to G-S-T!! So you’re a fan huh? Well I have been meaning for some time to check out the show. I have “Avatar: Book 1: The Avatar Returns: Part 1” on my Netflix Instant and was going to watch it this weekend actually so this is good timing I suspect. Is that a good way to start getting into the series? Or do you have something better for me to check out as a “casual fan”?

      On drawback I’ve noticed in filmmakers trying to “follow the cartoon closely” as you wrote, is that since a movie is a different medium, some things just don’t translate that well without certain changes. If you’re as die-hard for Avatar as I am for Cowboy Bebop then the “idea” of a live action adaptation should be right up our alley, but my fear is that in concept it is great but we may not be treated to a very good cross-over film.

      I’m really looking forward to seeing some episodes this weekend (after hearing you and countless people rave about it) so I’ll let you know how it fares. Thanks again, and come back soon!!

  4. I like M. Night, I think he’s got a gift of storytelling. My fave movie of his is Unbreakable hands down. I too was floored by Sixth Sense, but Unbreakable is just sooo cool and clever, what an original and fabulous twist of the superhero genre. I haven’t seen Lady in Water nor The Happening, yet, but there are lots of other movies I’m still catching up to.

    His career might’ve experienced some setbacks but it’s not over, yet. Airbender looks like it could be a hit box-office-wise, if not critically.

    • Good call Ruth, I’m guessing it’ll be a hit with kids and fans of the show, plus maybe turn the head of some unsuspecting viewers but I don’t think critically it’s going to succeed.

      But more to the point. Unbreakable is my fav M. Night film too…how about that? The Rocketeer, TD and Unbreakable? Guess it’s safe to say I like your style and taste in film Ruth:)
      Signs and Unbreakable are actually neck and neck for my fav M. Night film but they’re really too different to really take one over the other. I was just a little upset that Bruce wasn’t in Signs as Night seemed to reinvigorate his career. Would have been nice to see him continue after that…but Gibson didn’t do half bad.

      Lastly, only see The Happening if you like Mark Wahlberg and take my advise…skip Lady in the Water. Great premise…bad execution and the ending…sad, sad sad (in a bad and “this was a waste of time” way)

  5. Right back at cha, Marc! Unbreakable is just pure awesomeness, I didn’t guess the ending either, which makes me like it better. Crafty guy indeed! I like SIGNS too, but it didn’t impress me nearly as much as Unbreakable.

    I do like Wahlberg (as I just wrote an entire post on him yesterday 🙂 ), but there are other movies of his I’d check out first before The Happening. I’m gonna skip Lady in the Water for sure, never had much interest in it anyway. I’d rather just re-watch Unbreakable again. (Boy, I just mentioned that 3 times in one comment!)

  6. I don’t think he had anything to start out with to comeback from. Sorry, even The Sixth Sense was awful and overrated in my eyes.

    • Well fair enough. There’s a good amount of directors and films I don’t like but that’s what makes being a film fan so much fun, those opinions you form and the styles you prefer.