Sunday, September 6, 2015

Movie Review: "Lady in the Water" (2006)

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Movie"Lady in the Water"
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Year: 2006
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Story (Bryce Dallas Howard), a mythical water nymph known as a Narf, pops up in the pool of a Pennsylvania apartment complex. She is there to inspire a writer who will change the world with their ideas. After she completes her task, she is to return home on a Great Eatlon, but is attacked by a rogue Scrunt before she can be carried away. Now, Story needs the help of the building's superintendent Cleveland (Paul Giamatti) and a specific group of the complex's unique residents to help her return home.

"Lady in the Water" is a modern day fairytale based on a bedtime story director M. Night Shyamalan wrote for his kids. Some may read the summary of the film and ask, "Narfs? Scrunts? The Great Eatlon? What the hell is all this?" Well, let us break it down for you. Bryce Dallas Howard plays a Narf, which is a species of water fairy that inspires people to reach their full potential, setting them on a path to fulfill their destiny. Scrunts are vicious grass covered wolves that hunt and kill Narfs when they are out of the water. Once Narfs fulfill their task and inspire their person, they are carried back home on a Great Eatlon, which is a giant eagle. A Scrunt isn't supposed to attack a Narf when they wait for the Great Eatlon, because if it does, it will have broken the laws of the Blue World and will face the wrath of the peacekeepers, known as Tartutics, which are vicious giant tree monkeys. In this case, the Scrunt breaks the law and attacks Story while she awaits the Eatlon and risks the Tartutics wrath because Story is a Madame Narf, which is basically a Queen Narf. What a mouthful. If you just read the above explanation and immediately thought, "this is stupid," chances are, you will hate this movie. We, on the other hand, do appreciate the effort it took Shyamalan to create such an original and modern fairy tale which was not based on any previous publications. The story is different and does translate decently to the screen as fairy tale-esque, but this is not to say "Lady in the Water" isn't without its problems. The film wasn't well received and just barely cleared its budget at the global box office. A major problem in this film came with Shyamalan's choice to cast himself in the role of the prolific world changing writer. Not only did he lack the acting chops to pull it off, coming off as more monotonous than world changing, to the audience, it might come off as a little more than self-indulgent to cast himself as the saver of the planet. We like Paul Giamatti as an actor and he is good as superintendent Cleveland Heep, but his stutter isn't the most convincing we're ever heard and sounds very forced most of the time.

The pacing at times can be a little slow. A lot is piled on in a short amount of time, which can become more than confusing if you forget the difference between a narf and a scrunt. The whole story is about destiny and people finding their purpose, a theme Shyamalan explores quite often in his films, which has gotten a little cliche through the years. Cleveland must locate the people in his apartment complex who are destined to help Story. They have no idea who each of these people are, and yet they are all destined to be there and were drawn there by some unseen force, all in the same place at the same moment. We're not sure what it is about Shyamalan, but destiny and water are two of his favorite subjects. Many of the aspects of this movie are contrived, but there seems to be a balance between new and unique and this forced sameness.

Overall, "Lady in the Water" is a decent movie, not Shyamalan's best, but certainly not his worst.

My Rating: 5.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 24%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"

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