Written by Kevin Baxter
Published: August 10, 2004 at 7:08 PM
Instead of going to live with the Seven Dwarfs, Snow White will instead find herself in Covington Woods where things certainly won't be as scary as Evil Stepmothers. Very little will actually change inside the ride, as current Audio-Animatronics will simply be cloaked in either yellow or red cloaks, depending on their goodness. Also, Disney will
Okay, this is Kevin's alternate personality. Like most alternate personalities, I was created during a time of crisis for Kevin, namely when he sat through an entire showing of Any Given Sunday. I have taken over during other extreme situations, recent examples being Little Black Book, this season of Last Comic Standing and any time Jessica Simpson tries to release a new song.
I also took over during The Village. About ten minutes into it when Kevin figured out what the big "twist" was going to be. He cried out, "Oh my gawd!" and I immediately rescued him.
Lucky him! This movie not only has a really bad final "twist" but early reports bragged about it having THREE twists. Whatever. The first "twist" - hereafter referred to as The Elders' Secret - is actually tied to the final "twist" - After the Wall - and ends up being a double-edged sword. If you figure out The Elders' Secret first, chances are you will figure out After the Wall. If you figure out After the Wall first, which is extremely likely, then The Elders' Secret is a snap. The third "twist" - The Bottom of the Well - is barely a "twist" at all.
The main reason it isn't much of a "twist" is because it lasts all of three scenes, and they actually give the biggest hint ever given right before the final scene. Considering there are only two setpieces in the entire film with any type of suspense whatsoever, it's ridiculous that one of these scenes is so short and the surprise is given away so amateurishly. In fact, After the Wall's surprise is given away in a seriously clunky scene right before, robbing the scene of what little it had to offer. And this was the scene that was reshot, though Shyamalan arrogantly refuses to admit this.
I think it's that arrogance that kept Shyamalan from putting proper effort into this script. Anyone with any history viewing The Twilight Zone television series will figure out the ending here. While some Shyamalan apologists will insist the film is more than just its ending, I would have to say, What a bunch of crap! From its opening scenes, the entire movie is clearly leading up to a big twist. Even if Shyamalan didn't direct this, you would still know a twist was coming because everyone in it is hiding something and that all these secrets are leading up to something.
Shyamalan could have overcome the horrid finale by making the rest of the movie sparkle. Like he did in the goofy alien-filled finale of Signs. The dumb crap involving his dying wife's message from God didn't matter all that much since the film was filled with interesting three-dimensional characters and a few edge-of-your-seat setpieces.
What does The Village offer? The most interesting main character disappears halfway through. The other, Bryce Dallas Howard's blind character, is good, but her relentless bravery drains the movie of much-needed dread. The other characters are either under-drawn, like Sigourney Weaver's and the Elders, or overdone, like those played by Adrien Brody and William Hurt.
Even worse, excellent opportunities to expand on the theme are ignored. It doesn't take a genius to realize this movie deals, not in plot but theme, to post-9/11 fears. Red is bad, yellow is safe, to point out an obvious example. But this whole idea of living in fear is never really addressed at length, which is lame since there seems to be more to fear in Covington Woods than there is outside it. (I could also bitch in detail about how the outrageous hypocrisy of the Elders is ignored, but that gets a little too close to being a spoiler.)
Okay, I had to find some unsly way to incorporate this into a theme park column, but I absolutely needed a forum to complain! And to warn Kevin's dear readers from seeing this movie! Do I blame Disney? Not at all. Making three moneymakers certainly grants Shyamalan protection from studio intervention, something Disney is notorious for. But someone should have gotten involved at the script stage. Ain't It Cool News got a hold of the script when it was still called The Woods and ripped it to shreds. (Almost all of that script became The Village.) Thankfully, Shyamalan's next project is rumored to be a non-suspense film which he won't write. The Sixth Sense was a stellar script, but one Shyamalan probably worked on for years until a studio would allow him to direct it. Given less time - and too many articles that have swelled his head to epic proportions - and Shyamalan's writing talents have certainly eroded. Okay, back to Kevin...
Then again, the ride isn't a certainty. The Village, in its second week, barely outperformed The Bourne Supremacy in its third week. So it might not make it much past Unbreakable. The only thing I can see for such a drop would be bad word of mouth, but I can't understand why there would be any of that...
My two pennies... Gimme yours!