I lost all my expectations for Shamalamadingdong the moment the credits rolled after Unbreakable. To follow up something as enjoyable as Sixth Sense with something as plodding and boring as that did not bode well for his career, and M’s career has been consistently erratic ever since.
By the time The Happening and Lady came out I had just plain given up all together and I simply didn’t even bother to watch these. But intrigued by Q2′s creative idea I trudged out and picked up copies of these maligned flicks, and proceeded to see what Q2 had achieved.
Overall, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by both movies of this double-feature. For this review I watched the Single Layer DVD5 and the video quality was good on both TV’s that I watched this on (32″ LCD and 52″ Plasma) Audio was good for both, although my rears are currently not working so cannot fully evaluate the 5.1.
Even after Q2′s editing, it remains that not very much happens in the Happening. It is a listless, meandering narrative. A neat idea, but not a visually interesting one. It is such a painful emulation of Hitchcock’s The Birds that I almost feel bad for Shamalamadingdong. However by slicing out the pointless sub-plot and cleaning up the more gratuitous gore, I found that overall I found the movie more interesting and more enjoyable than the original. (I watched his edit before watching the original, and upon watching the original was even more impressed). Q2 has polished this movie about as much as it can in my opinion. The movie is not great, but the editing was good. The commentary track was also very entertaining and interesting, particularly the apology
Lady in the Water
Contrary to those who reviewed this before me, I found I quite enjoyed Q2′s take on Lady. The black and white worked even more for me on this as it helped place them in a sort of undetermined twilight that helped make them feel more isolated and in a fairy tale. I wasn’t bothered by how the participants in the plan quickly bought into the story. For me, it was simply a matter of them all sensing that something bigger than themselves was going on. It was obvious that Q2 had cut out a ton of really boring exposition and useless dialog which Shama seems to bloat his screenplays with, and this kept the movie focused and moving forward. My only major critique was the manner in which he handled Giamatti going into the pool to recover her ‘key’. Not seeing him even enter or exit the water really threw me for a loop at first and it took me out of the movie while I had to figure out what had happened. While I did figure out what happened, the lack of visual assistance severely interrupted the flow of the movie and it took me a few minutes to find myself back into the movie.
If I had to watch either of these movies again, these are the only versions I would consider watching. Technically well executed, these are both improvements on the original.
I’m feeling like the other reviewers although I probably liked Lady in the Water a bit more.
Problem is indeed how everyone react so irrational. I mean, it’s a kind of “fairy tale” but I need to feel what the characters feel to care for them.
It worked at some level for the Giamatti’s character, but everyone else looked like part of a puzzle story just waiting for the right moment to play their part and this is the only problem I had, but it’s a big one.
Other than that the editing work is perfect in both movies. Pictures quality is VERY good, menu are great.
The Happening is SO much better now it’s incredible. I mean, it’s the same story, same characters, but I could feel the tension that was not present for me in the original. GREAT job at making good something bad.
I can understand why other reviewers gave it a 7/10, but I was so pleasantly surprised by this DVD that I can’t rate it less than 8/10.
My rating of 7/10 is for the Happening part of this edit. While I still didn’t think the movie was very good, it was much improved over the original, there’s just not much of any good material to work with. So, my score is mostly for the effort and improvement, than for my enjoyment of the end result. I did think the black and white worked really well in some scenes, but felt a bit flat in others.
Unlike flyboy, I had seen (and detested) The Happening before, but never Lady in the Water.
The Happening: Great job! It becomes a compact little thriller of perfect lenght (one longs for the classic film days in which 60-minute-long movies were allowed in theatres) which could almost be part of a Twilight Zone type series. B&W works fine for this despite the minor mood ring thing, the buffoonery is gone, and the lover subplot is thankfully nowhere to be seen, by which it all is no longer as much of a poster-film for The Sacrosanct Institution of Marriage, Total Sexual Exclusiveness Division. Sadly, nothing could be done about that turd “love conquers all” ending, and Marky Mark is still as believable as a science man as I would be as Marilyn Monroe. But I did enjoy the movie this time around. Quite a bit, actually. The only technical downside is the abrupt music cut at the very end of the final credits.
Lady in the Water: I’m afraid I can’t be anywhere near as kind, but, as this is the only version of it I have seen, it probably has more to do with the original being bloody awful than with the faneditor’s work. The story can be followed, but it is barely logical, worst aspect of it being the ease with which everyone accepts the fantasy of it all. Yeah, right. B&W doesn’t work nearly as well in this one, probably because of all those night sequences (B&W night photography is a very specific process) that makes all details merge into the background, while The Happening was all set in daylight. Editing seems quite well done, but there are two moments that make me go WTF: one is that “key” thing, which we first see when Giamatti covers it so the Asian girl can’t see it, the existence of which had been mentioned but it hadn’t been properly visually introduced; and the other is a short sequence of Giamatti in a pajama eating a cookie in front of the Asian girl and her mother. Where did that scene come from, and what the hell is its purpose? Otherwise it’s technically well done, but I found the movie just plain atrocious.
DVD menus are good looking and the transitions are original, even if I wonder why the title menu for “Lady” was kept in color.