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Lady in the Water (DVD, 2006, Widescreen Edition)
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Finally, a Great Summer Movie!
Jul 21, 2006 (Updated Jul 22, 2006)
Review by Michelle Chelledun
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Unique plot, surprisingly funny, good cast, likable characters
Cons:Could be scarier
The Bottom Line: Almost perfect - Four and a Half Stars
The first thing I have to say is, wow, the previews got Lady in the Water all wrong. I totally love action films, fantasy, and psychological thrillers, but the previews actually made this film look less like those things and more like a very intense scary movie. If youre looking for something that will really scare your pants off, Lady in the Water will probably not meet your needs. However, if youre looking for an entertaining and unique summer movie, look no further.
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Plot Information (A very brief, generic summary)
This most recent M. Night Shyamalan creation stars Paul Giamatti as Cleveland Heep, a slow-moving but eager to please apartment superintendent and handyman. Cleveland discovers Story (Bryce Dallas Howard), a narf or sea nymph, who has come from the Blue World to perform a very important task on land. Story has many enemies, and the tenants of the apartment building must work together to try and return her safely to her world. The unraveling of the plot contributes greatly to the enjoyment of the movie, so try to avoid spoilers before heading into the show.
What I Liked
I liked a lot of things about this film. This is a relief, because Shyamalan is a mixed bag for me. The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable were great, but I found Signs to be hokey and The Village to be downright disappointing. Lady in the Water has an interesting premise that is actually unique. I cant think of another film released in recent years with anything similar. What really makes this movie original is the fascinating combination of genres. The plot is essentially a fantasy story of a fairy tale. There is also a healthy dose of suspense and make-you-jump moments thrown in. Finally, the movie is actually in part a comedy. I laughed out loud at least five or six times at the antics of the eccentric characters. In my opinion, this is where the film really succeeds. It does not take itself too seriously, which is refreshing.
While I will admit up front I am not a Paul Giamatti fan in general (Sideways still gives me nightmares), he does an excellent job portraying the likable Cleveland Heep. He plays the character with a sadness that is difficult to understand until the backstory unravels. Bryce Dallas Howard doesnt get a whole lot of lines as Story, but she certainly looks the part of an otherworldly nymph. Cindy Cheung steals the show a little bit as rebellious Korean student Young-Soon Choi. There is a large supporting cast in this show and while most characters dont get a lot of screen time, they are surprisingly well developed for their small parts. I also enjoyed seeing M. Night himself in one of the larger roles.
The plot offers viewers a chance to kind of puzzle things out and solve a riddle of sorts, although I didnt get very much of the ending right. However, viewers expecting a big twist in the traditional Shyamalan sense may be disappointed, so just go into this as you would any other movie. The movie moves very quickly, and I couldnt believe it when I realized it had almost reached its end.
What I Didnt Like
My only real complaint about the film is that the villains just dont look or feel that menacing to me. They kind of look like pigs. I think showing them less or more at all may actually have been more effective psychologically. This is the same complaint I had with Signs, actually. While I dont like horror movies with hatchet-wielding murderers, I dont mind being a little scared. This sentiment was generally echoed throughout the theater, as I heard several of people around me comment at the film's end, "I thought this was supposed to be a scary movie!"
If you puzzle too much about the story, it is a little silly I guess. There are also quite a few plot holes, but its about a fairy tale anyway so this doesnt seem to matter much.
As I started to write this review I was wavering between a four and a five star rating. I dont have much to say negative, and I have a lot to say positive. My husband and I both agreed we enjoyed this movie miles more than Da Vinci Code and Pirates 2. However, I do wish the movie had been just a little scarier to match its previews. I am going with a four and a half star rating and strongly recommending this unique movie which provides an effective mixture of many of my favorite genres. There is something special during this film, and I found myself smiling unexplicably throughout. Perhaps this was just because the movie dares to break out of the predictable mold so often followed by suspense films and create something completely different. Some will love this movie, but others will hate it. Personally, I think Lady in the Water is a winner!
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