Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Year: 2000
TRT: 1:47

Reviewed: 4/13/03

Damn. This movie is one scene short of the coveted DMR 12-pack. Luckily the scene is pretty short, and despite it jolting the viewer out of the ride a bit, one settles in again pretty quick. The reactions to this movie have been pretty polarized, for whatever reason. As you can tell from the rating and the following review, I'm one who enjoyed it quite a bit. It's definitely a strong follow-up to Shyamalan's previous film The Sixth Sense, continuing in the Serling-esque form of Twilight Zone kind of writing, taking very normal characters and throwing in an x-factor. For this film, the x-factor plays with the question, "If you were a superhero, how would you know it?" If this kind of subject matter don't exactly float your boat, do not let that stop you from seeing this movie. There's no fantastic, mutant powers or flying men in capes involved. It's not adapted from a comic book. It is the way the story is approached from the humanistic (and realistic) manner, and the style in which it is shot that makes this a fan-fucking-tastic movie.

The movie starts with the main character David (in a great Quaalude-induced performance by Bruce Willis) on a train, coming off as kind of a heel. But the train ends up in a wreck, he is the sole survivor, and our perceptions quickly change as we get to see the very personal situation with his family and job unfold. I'll leave it at that as far as the story is concerned, as it really is intriguing to watch the story unfold. The character Elijah is Samuel L. Jackson's best role aside from Pulp Fiction, and will really have you wondering what exactly is going on until the very last scene.

Great Scenes: I have to mention two that really stand out for me. One takes place in a train station where David goes to mix with a lot of people (accentuated by a great score), and a scene where you will absolutely, positively cringe when the glass walking stick shatters. If you don't, you can personally kick my ass. But I may have to kick yours in return (well, it's only fair).

Media Notes: Absolutely top-notch "Vista Series" 2-DVD set put out by Touchstone. Disc 1 is strictly the movie with audio and captioning options. Disc 2 offers a crazy-great wealth of info in the background of the film in terms of the depth of interviews with all the major players and production info. If nothing else, watch the 14 minute "Behind the Scenes" featurette included to get a great preliminary insight of how the film was shaped. Also included is a 19 minute "Comic Books and Superheroes" segment that goes more into the nature of comics, with some killer clips with Samuel Jackson (who's always been a big fan), as well as a plethora of artists talking very candidly about the genre. Tops are Frank Miller and Alex Ross (a truly incredible artist that transcends the stereotypes, click here for samples of his amazing artwork). Also included is a cool multi-angle setup of the train station sequence, deleted scenes with great introductions by Shyamalan of each (including a very humorous one that is an extension of the weight-lifting scene, cut due to overkill), and a funny early "film." Also included is a nice booklet and double-sided card of Alex Ross illustrations that match the well-designed packaging beautifully.


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