Lady in the Water
I realize this will be a rather controversial opinion of M. Night Shyamalan's Lady in the Water, but I have to say that I really liked this movie. It's basically the same deal as his other films in terms of speed, dialogue, and visual style, yet much less dependent on the surprise twist(s) at the end. And although I happen to enjoy twists quite a bit, what I most liked about this particular M. Night Shyamalan movie was its creativity. It's pure fantasy--not taken from a book or a remake of an earlier film from the 50's, not based on a comic book or a cartoon or tv show, but a completely original story. It's like the endangered species of movies...unless you count indie films I guess. But those are just weird.
I mean if you hate the fantasy stuff then don't bother, you'll just hate this movie. It's pretty much that simple.
So Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti), the building superintendent for The Cove apartment complex, discovers a beautiful naked woman swimming in the pool late one evening. He is strangely annoyed by this turn of events and angrily demands that she vacate the pool immediately...perhaps more clever than I thought actually, especially considering that instead of giving her a robe of some sort, he merely gives her one of his button-down shirts to wear for the remainder of the movie. No pants, no shorts. Just the shirt.
The mysterious naked chick turns out to be a narf, "artfully" named Story (Bryce Dallas Howard), who has to see some guy or something before she can return to her world, the Blue World. It wouldn't be much of a story if there wasn't some monstrous creature determined to rip her to shreds, however, so in order to get back to her world safely she must elude the ever-present and vigilant scrunts who lay in wait for her. Eventually Cleveland learns of the mythology that explains Story's existence and ultimate goal, but in order to protect her from the fearsome beasts/scrunts, he has to decipher the true meaning behind the story itself and find the specific tenants at The Cove who possess crucial hidden powers.
One gets the definite feeling that Shyamalan loves stories that come together through a destiny foretold in small subtle clues throughout the film. And I'm not complaining, because it's nice to indulge in the fantasy world once in a while. It's true that the story is admittedly a little silly when you think about it, but what made it interesting was the gradual release of information spread evenly throughout the movie. It kept my curiosity going and allowed me ease into the whole narf/scrunt/blue world thing. I mean this is, after all, a story that Shyamalan told to his children at bedtime, so it has the innocence of a childhood fairytale mixed with a few frightening scenes and a storyline that ties together well at the end.
Again, though, it's all fantasy and mystery with a little bit of thriller mixed in, so you have to be into that kind of thinking before you'll enjoy a movie like this. I happened to like it quite a bit, so although almost every critic in America vigorously disagrees with me on this issue, I am going to recommend the movie to those who like mysteries that let their imaginations run wild. And yes, it's still somewhat of a silly movie.