The Village (2004)

The-Village

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Switches things up.

I know you guys remember the legend of M. Night Shyamalan – back when he was good – a rising name in the world of great directors. Not only directors, but writers alike…people were starting to call him the new Hitchcock – which was huge praise. People expected a lot from his unique view on filmmaking. So it’s really no wonder why The Village is quite possibly his best movie when it comes to casting. Have you seen this thing recently? The cast is really impressive, names I not only forgot were on there, but was pleasantly excited to see them – like Jesse Eisenberg – whose role is completely unimportant and barely even there – but it’s Jesse Eisenberg! Anyways, I do like this movie more than most, and I’ll try my best to explain why.

The Village is about – surprise, surprise – a village set in the late 19th century. Filled with residents who have really made a nice life for themselves, apart from the fact that the entire town is stalked and threatened by mysterious creatures that live in the woods surrounding the village. Basically, the townsfolk and the creatures have some sort of agreement not to cross the border and everyone is safe. That is…until things change. Someone breaks the code and crosses the threshold, sending havoc and death among the people of the village, threatening their very limited existence.

Alrighty – so a lot of people have a problem with this movie. In fact, this is really where people began to lose faith in Shyamalan. Not completely though, that’s what Lady in the Water ultimately did – but it started here…why? Easy answer, people had huge expectations from Shyamalan at this point – and expected to see the same basic thing here. A creepy, scary tale with a huge twist at the end that makes you question your entire experience. While that is somewhat available here – that’s really not what it’s about.

The subplot of the film is really the main focus – or should have been, rather. I’m talking about the love story between Lucas Hunt (Joaquin Pheonix) and Ivy Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard) and the entire subliminal commentary about society and culture in general. These two things intertwined were actually quite captivating. The romance in particular, blended with the creepy dark tone of the movie was specifically unique and weirdly welcomed. These two had really, really good chemistry and you start to fall in love with their paring. The thing is…that’s not what the main focus was on primarily when you watch it for the first time.

When you watch this for the first time, you are just paying attention to these…creature things that live in the forest…and when you do that – no, the movie really isn’t that great…but when you focus on the love story, it’s really unlike anything you’ve ever seen before – and you can’t help but respect that. Also, the film has really interesting visuals between the color red and yellow. While everything else is a dull, desaturated color, the reds and yellows were both very vibrant and worked really well against those other, duller colors. Basically – it’s really nice just to look at if nothing else.

Here’s where my main issue comes in: As much as I really like the love story here, and hidden messages – which I do…M. Night. purposefully geared the audience to focus on these creatures because of his past reputation. I understand why, but he put himself into the ditch by doing it. That very decision is what actually started his decline in the movie business, which is really disappointing to me, because I consider myself to be a pretty big fan of his…I still don’t think I can miss his next film – regardless of his current, forgotten position in film. I know he still has it in him, and I await his fame to regain its strength.

The Good:

When you stop watching this film as a horror and start watching it as a dark, but sweet romance…you really appreciate everything the movie is about – because the acting and chemistry from our leading characters is too good to pass up. You love these characters. Who cares about the creatures when you have these two?

The Bad:

The giant misunderstanding about this movie is actually really disappointing – but I do understand where people are coming from – and it is partially Shyamalan’s fault – he did bring it upon himself.

The Notebook (2004)

Notebook

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Chick Flick King

Chicks! Come, unite, and praise your false god, The Notebook. Yes, yes, it’s not that nuts, but girls everywhere absolutely cannot get enough of this movie. I’ve seen it before, it’s not horrible (like many guys would like to believe), but it’s also not as great as girls would like to believe either. It’s honestly somewhere in the middle. So I decided to sit back down and watch this movie that every guy clenches his teeth to get through, to decide what exactly it is that drives guys away and pulls girls in.

If you aren’t all that familiar with the story, it goes a little something like this: an old man is telling a love story to an old woman in a nursing home. The story is basically about this attractive guy (Ryan Gosling) and attractive girl (Rachel McAdams) falling desperately in love and experiencing together the ups, downs, and imperfections of love itself, becoming once again, a movie that defends the ever-popular theory that love conquers all. It’s sweet, it’s sad, it’s sappy, melodramatic, and pretty much the exact definition of a “chick flick”.

Great, now that that’s out of the way, why do guys hate it so much? The great thing about this answer is that…there’s so many different reasons for guys to hate this movie, and none of them are what girls think…which is basically – guys are just jealous because they’ll never measure up to the men in the film. No. The real reason for, I’m sure a lot of guys, is that it paints an improbable portrait of the perfect male body. Notice I didn’t say impossible – it’s definitely possible, but this film makes nearly every girl on the planet cry out with – “Why aren’t you like him!?”. Guys themselves don’t care if they measure up or don’t… because it’s just a movie. They just never like it when a third party tries to convince their girls that they aren’t good enough for them. In short – it’s irrational and annoying.

I personally don’t hate the movie, I actually like it…but I’m far from loving it. The main reasons that I dislike the film have to do with plot. Like I said, it really is the exact definition of “chick flick”. I’m not sure if they were trying to have a secret reveal throughout the movie, but to me it was predictable from the very moment it began…like I already knew absolutely everything that would happen. So it’s predictable, but it’s more than that. There’s no real goal. There sort of is with the old couple, as that’s the most interesting element, but I couldn’t care less for almost anything regarding the younger couple.

Okay, so why do girls love it? In short, it’s because of the emotional scenes. To branch that out a bit, it’s because, to be fair, they were really put together very well on a professional level. Whether girls realize it or not, they appreciate all of the hard work put into making an emotional scene perfect. The acting is remarkable, the lead-up is very realistic – as are the living and family conditions these people go through. Not only that, but the chemistry is completely on par. The message is loud and clear, and it is delivered with precision. I understand why girls cry…there are certainly tear-jerking moments throughout the film. However, as incredible as the acting and the emotions are displayed in the film, that is not enough for me to say that I love it.

Emotional scenes are great, but when a movie focuses more on that then anything else, we have a problem. I feel the same about movies more interested in visuals. It’s imbalanced, and to me, that’s a problem.

The Good:

Girls can’t help but love the movie, because it’s the perfect go-to movie if they are in need of a cry session. The emotional scenes portrayed in The Notebook were clearly put together very, very well.

The Bad:

Guys, however, won’t really like it because it often has the tendency to color women’s perspective on who men are now versus who they think they should be. It is also an incredibly sappy and predictable story.

Ella Enchanted (2004)

Ella-Enchanted

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Silly, but cheap.

This film was selected from ‘The 250’

Do you ever mix up movie titles? It has happened to me from time to time for a few movies, two of which are Ella Enchanted and Enchanted for obvious reasons, regardless of the fact that they are two very different movies. While sure, there are some similarities here and there, they are pretty much polar opposites, and most people would just remember Enchanted…because that’s the better, more memorable film. This one is more for the kids who won’t be nitpicking, because truth be told…there are quite the number of flaws in Ella Enchanted.

This film introduces us to Ella of Frenn, a fictional fantasy world that resembles some Disney tales, but we’ll get to that later. When she was just a baby, her godmother, Lucinda, gave her the worst gift ever…regardless of her pure intentions. It was the gift of obedience, so basically Ella had no other choice than to do everything everyone else ordered from her (cue immature laughter here). This brought on strange behavior from Ella in her adulthood, and people began to figure it out, ultimately forcing her to do things and she has no choice but to comply, like tell her best friend she never wants to see her again. So throughout the movie, Ella tries to track her best friend down again and patch things up.

I said it resembled the world of Disney because there are two basic plots, one is stupid, the other one is virtually the same exact thing as Cinderella. You got your evil step mother/sisters, a ball, a Prince Charming, a fairy godmother, transformation, lalala. It’s the same movie, give or take a few Disney films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. The other plot of the film, the stupid one, was trying to find her best friend who she dumped. That was just…it felt off. It was there to keep the film flowing, and to give Ella a goal…but in the end, I don’t think anyone cared. It actually felt more filler and watered down the real plot of the movie…then again, the real plot felt unoriginal…so. I don’t know.

Now, there is something that the movie did right, and that was its sense of humor. It’s not overly hilarious, but it had the same sense of humor that Shrek does. It takes place in a fantasy medieval world, and yet, they sing current pop hits and make a lot of clever pop culture references that sets the movie apart from others like it. If I were to pick out the very best feature of the film – that would be it, hands down, because the rest of the movie is just okay.

If I had to point out the worst feature the film had, it would unfortunately have to be the visuals. I want to point out that this is a 2004 movie. I won’t list off a bunch of movies from this year, but just know there are some phenomenal movies with insane visuals in that same year – to name a few– Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and The Day After Tomorrow. Insane visuals in these movies, and I know not every movie has the same budget, but what this movie did was simply sad. There are better visuals on TV, even back then. There just wasn’t a single visual in this film that looked real. I could see the backdrops, I could see the bad CGI, I could tell when there was green screen, I could even tell when people were ADRing their scenes. It just felt really cheap and amateur. Maybe that was the point? I don’t know, because if it was, then I don’t get it.

The Good:

Kids will love it, the concept is silly and it has the same type of theme and tone as a live-action version of Shrek.

The Bad:

Read my last paragraph – it basically says the visuals in this movie are subpar. Scratch that, the visuals just suck.

The Random:

Haha, the dude from the Hannibal TV show is in this. That makes me laugh.