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Friday, June 6 12:00 AM ET

Trailer Review: The Happening

By Brian Briggs

The HappeningOne of the worst things a trailer can do is give too much of the movie away.  For M. Night Shyamalan movies that’s nearly impossible.  As long as the last five minutes don’t make it to the trailer then all is good.

That is unless M. Night has changed formats, but from the trailer for The Happening that doesn’t appear to be the case.

The trailer opens with Mark Wahlberg as a science teacher in a high school.  He’s asking his students about the disappearance of bees around the world.  What are their theories?  The students are bored and couldn’t care less, until they become the bees!

Next we see a police officer fall over dead in the middle of the street.  Actually, we don’t see him fall over. One minute he’s up walking the beat, the next he’s down on the ground dead.  I think you might want to talk to David Blaine about that one. He’s into tricks like that.

Huh?
Huh? Where am I?

School is canceled and the teachers are called in for a meeting.  They have some coffee in the break room and talk about how relieved they are that they don’t have to teach that day, and wonder if they’ll get paid.  One guy, the union rep, says that he thinks they still get paid during “national emergencies,” but he’ll check the latest contract. 

Oh wait, that doesn’t happen in this trailer.  Sorry, I figured it needed more excitement.

The man letting the teachers off for the day is none other than Cameron from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Does anyone else find that ironic?

The news reports that many cities have been attacked.  People are dying all over the place.  Luckily, the CIA has a defense against chemical weapons, but they already used it in Iraq, so the people have to head for the hills.

We need to know the plot
twist or we're going to jump?

Something is happening.  Everyone is dying.  At first it sounds like it’s a terrorist attack, then it’s a government experiment gone wrong.  Finally, over the radio we find out that it’s too widespread to even be terrorists, though it’s possible a TSA agent let somebody through security with an Evian bottle.

Then we get about four seconds of Mark Wahlberg looking confused.  He’s still trying to figure out The Sixth Sense.

Finally, we get a scene of a guy crying and people jumping off tall buildings. Mark Wahlberg gives a speech about how science will come up with something to put in the books, but in the end we have to realize that there are forces beyond our understanding.  From the clips he’s talking about the bees, but it’s foreshadowing.  The kind of thing they teach in storytelling 101.

Reviewinator

Trailer Quicktime
Starring

Mark Wahlberg
Zooey Deschanel

Director M. Night Shyamalan
Official Site Link
US Opening

June 13, 2008

Rated R
Genre Shyamalanian
Explosions 0
Weapons Dogs, assualt rifle, shotgun
Man Quotient

2.2

Trailer
Déjà Vu
The Sign in the Sixth Village
Geek Factor 55%
See Trailer? Yes
See Movie? Yes
Follow Up Pending

The commercials for the film use the fact that this is Shyamalan’s first R-rated movie as a marketing gimmick.  Don't get excited Zooey Deschanel fans, it's hard rated for "Violent and Disturbing Images."

Ending Prognostication:  You want me to guess the ending of an M. Night Shyamalan movie?  Jerks.  OK, it turns out to be nothing supernatural, just the unintended consequences of some human action.  Mark Wahlberg sacrifices himself to save the kids.

Conclusion on Trailer: For a movie like this, it’s easy to make an effective trailer.  The trailer builds the suspense, and doesn’t reveal the mystery killer.  I’d suggest watching the trailer then sneaking into the theater for the last five minutes of the movie.  It’ll save you a lot of time.

Conclusion on Movie:  So the question in this movie is: What is killing all the people?  The whole movie experience rests on a satisfactory answer to that question.  That’s the problem with these types of movies.  They hinge entirely on that one factor.  If the answer isn’t satisfying then people leave the theater disappointed.  I’m going to guess that this movie will break the string of disappointments from Shyamalan and be a winner.

 

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