Monday, June 30, 2008

The Happening (Soundtrack) by James Newton-Howard - Review

The Happening (Soundtrack) by James Newton-Howard - Review
Shyamalan Happens
Review by Christopher Coleman

I've long been an M. Night Shyamalan supporter...even in the face of pretty harsh criticism. Yes, indeed, I liked LADY IN THE WATER: the film, the score, everything. I don't think there is a more maligned director in Hollywood right now. I've lost count of the number of failings he is accused of having, but perhaps the chief among them is "pretentiousness." Well, one man's pretension is another man's...creativity. Oh yes. That word was certainly dusted off and included in many reviews and messages boards once again when it came to Shyamalan's latest project,THE HAPPENING. In most cases, Shyamalan's stylistic storytelling and sometimes cryptic moralizing wins me over - despite awkward dialogue and off-kilter acting; however, this streak ends with THE HAPPENING for me. To his detractors, all I have left to say is "Shyamalan happens." He does and will continue to do things his way and enough people keep watching his films to keep him gainfully employed. If nothing else, director M. Night Shyamalan is consistent in a few areas. First, his films rarely adhere to Hollywood-conventions. Second, he always seek to make some sort of moral or existential point. Third, he always brings on composer James Newton-Howard to provide the musical score.

M. Night Shyamalan has taken both "awkward dialogue" and "off-kilter acting" to a new level in THE HAPPENING. Yes - the point of the film is well-taken, despite being misunderstood, by some, as a film pushing the "green-agenda." It's not really about that at all. Yes, we, the human race, are screwing up the planet but we have also been screwing up each other for quite some time, and the earth ain't none to happy 'bout it. The film is not making a statement about treating the earth better as much as it is about treating the human race better. I can only surmise that our leafy cohabitants have figured out that if we treat our own species so badly, we are going to continue to treat the earth even worse. Humans have become a threat to everything. So, the earth does what most living things do when threatened; avoid or eliminate threat. What more clever thing than to cause the threat eliminate itself? Quite economical. Once again Shyamalan has come up with an "idea" that is quite interesting. Plant life adapting, evolving, communicating, and collaborating to rid themselves of this fleshy threat? Who wouldn't love that? When it comes to the execution of this story, though, that is another matter all together. To put it flat, Shyamalan truly missed it this time and has left me little to argue on his behalf with. Other than the creepy Betty Buckley (she'll always be Mrs. Eight is Enough to me), the casting is downright awful and the script given to them is even worse. Yes, M. Night manages get our pulses moving with a few disturbing moments of self-execution and murder, but if it takes that sort of thing to save a film, then that film has got big troubles. Other than the premise, there isn't a lot to take away from THE HAPPENING. Now, for some film score fans, the lone silver lining of any M. Night movie comes with the knowledge that there will likely be another magical, mystical, beautiful effort from composer JAMES NEWTON HOWARD. So is THE HAPPENING saved by Newton-Howard's contribution this time out?

Read the full review here

1 comment:

  1. I really liked the movie, and i thought the soundtrack was great


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