Once upon a time there was a director named M. Night Shyamalan who came out of nowhere (other than a couple of obscure films he made before that,) to bring us the smash hit The Sixth Sense. The film was a pop cultural phenomenon and was almost all anyone could talk about in late summer of '99. The fantastic performances, the undeniable suspense and THAT ending. It was a dream of a debut and rightly so because the film still holds up today (maybe not as a pure horror film, but luckily there was always more to the film than that.) The next summer followed and Unbreakable was released. It had more of a modest public reception, but in time people realized its quality and a cult following began. After that came Signs and The Village which I both enjoyed (Signs I loved,) and generally a lot of people did too. But the cracks started to show with The Village as the reviews became a little less favorable and the opinions more varied. I personally think it's a good film, but I can see how it might not be everyone's cup of tea. And then the real ugliness began with Lady in the Water and the two films that succeeded it. In 2010 came The Last Airbender, and almost seemingly with it the last breath of this once great director's career. Oh, how the mighty had fallen.
So is Shyamalan back?? Well not entirely. This isn't a perfect film by any means, nor is it on the same level as some of his early work...but it is undoubtedly the best thing he's been involved with in almost a decade, and for me that alone is cause for a little bit of celebration. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of really silly dialogue... but some that also I really liked, such as the full fear speech we saw briefly in the trailer as well as a few other moments. Both the elder and younger Smith put on a bizarre accent that goes in and out that I definitely could have done without; both of their performances are fine enough though not really groundbreaking. And Jaden definitely takes awhile for him to hit his stride; sometimes it's rough having such a young protagonist with the film on his shoulders (the film probably wouldn't work without Will's presence.) All that said though, I really enjoyed it! And surprise, a lot of that had to do with the director's touch.