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268 of 305 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fool me four times? Not bad, M. Night Shyamalan
There is so much bad word of mouth out there about "The Village" that I had to go see it by myself because nobody wanted to see it with me. I avoided all the publicity about M. Night Shyamalan's fourth film so that I could make up my own mind. Besides, if the whole point is to see whether he can fool us again, why would you want to know anything on the chance...
Published on August 3, 2004 by Lawrance M. Bernabo

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful film that falls apart at the end
Let me start out by saying that I love M. Night Shyamalan's work. I even loved MOST of this film. I won't give away the surprise for those of you who still haven't seen it, but I'll voice my opinion as to why so many people have written negative reviews of this movie.

Long story short: there was no point to the twist ending other than the twist ending...
Published on February 28, 2005 by Jerry Jackson Jr.


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268 of 305 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fool me four times? Not bad, M. Night Shyamalan, August 3, 2004
By 
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There is so much bad word of mouth out there about "The Village" that I had to go see it by myself because nobody wanted to see it with me. I avoided all the publicity about M. Night Shyamalan's fourth film so that I could make up my own mind. Besides, if the whole point is to see whether he can fool us again, why would you want to know anything on the chance that it would be too much? If the film gets spoiled by a review, then that is hardly giving the film a chance. Even when Penn & Teller show you how they do their trick, they get to do the trick first.

The Village is located in a valley surrounding by Covington Woods. The year is 1897 according to the tombstone we see at the start of the film. As we are introduced to life in the community we learn about the strange rules under which its inhabitants live. If you did not read the rules on the poster for "The Village," they are enacted during the first part of the film. Red is a bad color that cannot be seen because it attracts them, while mustard yellow is a color of safety. No one can enter the woods because that is where those of whom no one speaks will get you. If the warning bell is sounded, then head for the cellars in your houses immediately because they are coming.

A council of elders run the village, and their leader is clearly Edward Walker (William Hurt). They set the tone for the village, but in the wake of the death of a young child because of sickness, young Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) wants to leave the village, travel through the forbidden woods, and bring back medicine from one of the towns on the other side. Lucius is uncommonly brave. The young boys test their courage by standing on a stump on the border between the village and the woods, and Lucius is the record holder. But his courage could doom the Village by breaking the truce that has held between the two sides for many years.

Most of that you can pick up from the trailers for "The Village." Joaquin Phoenix as Lucius is clearly the hero of the film and you know know that there is no reason to set up these rules if they are not going to get violated as a major plot development in the film. Beyond that it is difficult to say anything that would not interfer with your chance to enjoy the film on its own terms. However, there are two things I can say.

First, given that he has backed himself in a corner it terms of always having to come up with some big secret twist for all of his films, Shyamalan does try to come up with something to meet the raised expectations. You can certainly decide afterwards that the secret was not big enough or good enough, but unless the film has been spoiled for you I cannot believe you are going to see everything that is coming. As we know from "Signs" and the rest of his films if there is one thing Shyamalan can do it is that everything fits together in the end.

Second, as I started to get into this film I decided that the character I really liked was Ivy Walker, played by Bryce Dallas Howard. That is the one name that appears in the opening credits that I did not recognize (remember, I avoided all the publicity) and so when it turned out that Bryce was playing Ivy, and that the actress is the daughter of Ron Howard I was surprised (no wonder she looked familiar without my recognizing her). This is a breakthrough performance, which may well be the only thing that everybody who sees "The Village" is going to agree on.

Early on in this film I decided what I wanted this film to be, not expecting that it would actually end up being that, so when it did I was both surprised and gratified. Since I never put much significance into the meaning of Shyamalan's movie twists, focusing instead on whether or not I could be fooled, "The Village" certainly meets the criteria. He got me. Again.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True to the Director's Style, August 5, 2004
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I read several reviews before seeing this movie and they pretty muched summed up to the movie being fair to pretty good. I saw a few really neagtive ones as well. I went to the movie with an open mind and waqs glad that I did. I will have to say that the director was very true to his style. I belive that a lot of people who gave the movie poor ratings came to see it with many preconceived notions of what it would be. I must admit when I first saw the trailers I classified it as a scary movie that would take place in the late 18th century. The beauty of the story is that it is much more than what it appears and the director is very successful in tying together many intricate details into a seemless plot that takes a person's perception of reality on a roller coaster ride. I feel that if the same people who gave this movie a bad review were to have simply sat back and let the story unfold before them rather than coaxing into a direction they thought it should go then they would have enjoyed all that it had to offer. The plot and story is very original and I recommend it for both its ambiance and story.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Let Her Go...Ivy Runs Toward Hope...", September 21, 2004
By 
R. M. Fisher "Ravenya" (New Zealand = Middle Earth!) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
I think two factors are behind the bulk of negative reviews for "The Village": one, it's fairly obvious that M. Night Shymalan has gone into the well a few too many times in regard to his Big Twist plot scenario, and two, the film was wrongly advertised as a horror movie.

Perhaps my knowledge of these two facts was what let me enjoy the movie on a level that other people haven't; watching it as a dark fairy tale, a critique on today's contemporary situation, a beautiful love story, and a chilling suspense mystery. With gorgeous visuals, fantastic use of colour and a haunting violinist score, "The Village" is certainly a feast for the senses, whatever you might think of the actual story.

In an idyllic, peaceful clearing is a hamlet where children play together, adults work together, and which is benevolently ruled over by a group of Elders. Amongst them is Edward Walker, the village patriarch and school-teacher, widowed Alice Hunt, and bereaved father August Nicolson, who has just lost his son to illness.

The second generation is represented mainly through Edward's two daughters, the giddy Kitty, and the blind, spiritual Ivy, and Alice's son Lucius - a near-mute introvert who never speaks more than five words strung together unless he's carefully written out what he wants to say on a piece of paper. As well as this, there's Noah Percy, a mentally challenged young man who adores Ivy, and is consequently hurt and confused by her growing feelings for Lucius.

The village is surrounded by Covington Woods, and here is where the real chills are to be found. Inside these woods dwell what the villagers call "Those We Don't Speak Of", strange and menacing monsters that stand between the village and the outside towns. Not that this is a bad thing, as we are told that the towns are "wicked places, full of wicked people". Despite this, it is important that the villagers uphold the uneasy truce between the woods and their community. A series of defences are in place to keep the creatures at bay: watchtowers, warning bells, offerings, cloaks of "the safe colour" and a restriction against anything that is red - this apparently attracts them. And no one is *ever* to go into the woods.

But of course, we all know that anything forbidden is instantly fascinating, and that teenagers are almost genetically engineered to test the boundaries put in place around them. Therefore, whilst the other boys are playing "chicken" games at the edge of the woods, Lucius is exploring his own theory concerning the creatures: he is greatly affected by the death August's son, and believes that if the traveller had noble intentions (such as fetching medicines from the towns), the creatures would let him pass unharmed.

But as he puts this to the test, the threat from the creatures grow - skinned animals and red marks appear on the doors. Coincidence? No way. Rules are continually broken, and lines continually crossed throughout the story - even the angelic Ivy breaks her "no hitting" rule. Finally Lucius (and the rest of the youths) seem frightened enough to no longer attempt passage through the woods, until an accident occurs that forces a drastic decision to be made. Now Ivy must go through the terrible woods, in order to save the life of her beloved...

I know that the illogical plot-holes are so gaping that you could drive a truck through them, and I know that there are some serious problems with the final resolution, but there comes a point when you make a decision - to either go with it, or scoff at it. Most people it seems have taken the second option, and unfortunately they miss out on a lot of what the director is trying to tell us about fear, authority, rules, innocence and control - all of which have particular resonance in today's world. Whether you liked it or not, please ask yourself this: where does the real danger lie - in the woods, in the towns, or in the village itself? Are some of the choices made justified? Is retaining innocence worth the terror that goes with it?

As well as this, there are a lot of things to enjoy; the afore mentioned atmosphere, and the genuine scares that Shymalan throws in (at one particularly harrowing moment three girls behind me in the theatre screamed - and I mean really *screamed*). Most touching for me however, was the love story between Ivy and Lucius - every time she puts her hand out, he's there to take it, and their discussion on the porch is beautifully performed and shot: the silent Lucius suddenly blurts out what's on his mind, whilst the talkative Ivy is struck dumb.

There are some things however, that stopped me from giving it five stars, the biggest one being the sudden veer away from Lucius's plot development. Shymalan builds an interesting and endearing character, and then he abruptly drops from the action, never to return. This obviously had to happen in order to get Ivy into the woods, but we never *return* to his story. Ivy learnt some truths on her journey that she'll undoubtably share with him, but we never see how he'll react to them. For that matter, we never actually learn if Ivy was actually *successful* in her mission - does he survive or not?

All in all, I enjoyed "The Village", and I really hope you take the time to look deeper into what it's trying to say. Everything, from the colours invoked (red, the colour of violence to yellow, the colour of cowardice) to the poetic flow of the language - which is perhaps *meant* to be a little stiff, is there for a reason. Some great performances from the actors involved, and meticulous direction and control from Shymalan - I'm definitely getting this on DVD.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Different Shyamalan Film But Still A Masterpiece, September 21, 2004
First off, if you haven't seen the film yet, don't listen to any of the critics, see the film for yourself. I went to this film expecting only the signature Shyamalan plot twist. I wasn't disappointed.

The acting is superb as is the casting, the lead however, goes to Bryce Dallas Howard as Ivy Walker and Phoenix as Lucius Hunt. The script, the music, the cinematography are all excellent. The music especially is memorable for weaving an atmosphere of that gives you images of suspense, terror but it is also beautiful orchestral music. This film is undeserving of the bad reviews from viewers who were too narrow minded to enjoy this film for what it really is: a drama.

I see this as Shyamalan's attempt at breaking out of the "thriller" genre that the superb "The Sixth Sense" has entombed him in. This is his introduction to his other talents at filmmaking. This is not a "thriller" or a run-of-the-mill horror film, this is a drama film laced with suspense. It is Shyamalans version of an emotional film with scenes of terror and suspense throughout. "The Village" shows us that the terror is not only in the unknown but in the things in our lives that we try to leave behind and also in the feelings that we keep hidden.

Above all this film is about the innocence in us, and the means that some people will go to preserve it. If you want a film that makes you think, that will also scare you but one that is also eerie and hauntingly beautiful then you must see this film, it shows a whole new side to M. Night Shyamalan who is a filmmaker who must be known by more than his previous films.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Village, August 4, 2004
I liked it.

The more I thought about the film & discussed it @ 2am afterwards, and the days that followed (actors, scenes & story) the more I liked it. Initially, I wanted to be scared more, ...alone in the woods? At night? Breaking twigs? FEAR itself.

The cool thing about this film is that I remained scared even after a fear-defeating moment. (This is probably the most important aspect of the film and what makes it a winner in my book!)

The monsters, or bad-guys, are amazing!

M. Night seems to pick genre's well:

"The Sixth Sense" was about ghosts - if you don't like or believe or are scared of them the movie won't have the same effect (discounting the whole "trick" ending that everyone seemed to love). The same goes for "Unbreakable" relating to comic books/superheroes. And the aliens in "Signs".

If you aren't frightened by the concept then the movie losses something. If the woods at night doesn't scare you, you won't enjoy the "punch".

The audience had mixed feelings, (with one group of young teenage boys loudly voicing their disdain: "Boo! That sucked" etc., but they most likely expected a thriller.), but I will be front line center for M. Night's next film.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars And now for something completely different., August 12, 2004
Ah....The Village.

When I saw this film, I had no expectations. I know M. Night Shyamalan's style well enough by now to realize that his films don't live up to any expectations; they go in a different direction entirely. Critics will attempt to define them, but they generally fail to do so properly.

The Village is a movie about fear. It is not, however, a frightening movie. The trailers misrepresented it as such, what with the ominous "FACE YOUR FEARS" and such - or maybe they didn't misrepresent it at all - it's still a movie about fear. More specifically, it's about how people use fear, and how it affects them.

The tiny 1870s community of Covington is comfortably surrounded by a thick forest which shields them from the outside world, and that's just how the elders like it. "The Towns", as anything beyond the forest is generally referred to, are corrupt and evil and it is best that everyone stays within the borders. Not that they have a choice. Years ago, when the elders founded Covington, they struck a deal with nameless creatures that live in the woods - the creatures would protect their borders but not cross them, and the people would stay out of the forest.

In this village full of superstitions and odd rules, we focus on a few characters in particular. Lucius Hunt is a quiet, fearless young man who nevertheless seems to have a bit of trouble with public speaking. After the tragic death of a nameless young boy, he seeks permission from the elders to venture into "The Towns" and fetch some medecines to prevent further tragedy - a request that is summarily and repeatedly denied. Played by Joaquin Phoenix in one of his best performances to date, Lucius is one of the most intruiging and appealing characters I've ever seen on film.

Also in the village is a young woman named Ivy Walker. Though blind, Ivy enjoys life to its fullest potential and seems ever-full of conversation and laughter. Bryce Dallas Howard makes her star debut here, in an Oscar-worthy performance that left me stunned. Ivy is, of course, in love with Lucius - and after some persausion Lucius admits that he feels the same way.

With these two, it seems the film can hardly go wrong. An as long as it focuses on them, it cannot - the scenes with one or both of them are sometimes funny, sometimes sweet, occasionally sad, but always dead-on and so very real.

Another performance worth mentioning is Adrien Brody's portrayal of the mentally unstable, childish Noah. The sibling-like relationship between himself and Ivy is sweet and charming, but - and for fear of ruining the plot I shall say no more - there is much more to Noah than meets the eye.

When tragedy strikes this idyllic village, it strikes far too close to Ivy for her liking, and she is determined to set it right. She seeks her father's permission to venture into "The Towns" for medication, knowing he will hardly have the heart to refuse her.

What follows is a slow untangling of the web of deception that held Covington together. Revelation after revelation will spin the heads of anyone fortunate enough to have avoided reading any of the critic's reviews of this film, which generally spoil the plot in some way. Just when you think you have it all figured out...well, you don't.

There is no question about it - this movie is artfully and skillfully done. But the question remains, why do it at all? As its final scene faded out to black, the audience with which I shared the experience nearly broke out into an audible cry of frustration. So many loose ends...just left there....hanging? That wasn't like Shyamalan! What was he trying to do? The climax was so unsatisfying that many people universally panned the entire movie despite its obvious merits.

But what of the journey? Is this a film where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole? I believe so.

Shyamalan's message in this film is clear: you cannot escape evil by shutting it out. Evil is everywhere - even inside the ones you love - even inside you. Only one thing is stronger than evil. Love. And, in the end, nothing else matters.

Maybe there's a method to his madness. By leaving so much of the plot unresolved at the movie's conclusion, he is telling us that, in fact, it doesn't matter - despite what we may think, it really doesn't matter.

People don't like to be told that. They don't like to pay money to be told that it doesn't matter what happens in the end, because love conquers all. They want to see it happen.

Shyamalan, as usual, has given us something Completely Different. I beg you not to be prejudiced in your judgement of this film merely because it is just that - Completely Different. Give it a chance.

And face your fears.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another brilliant slow brew by Shyamalan, December 6, 2004
By 
Christian Buckley (Washington State, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Village (DVD)
Ok, folks, after his last few films, was anyone really surprised by the slow pace of much of this film, and the surprise ending? That's what M. Night Shyamalan does! His movies are not about the monsters and special effects -- each is a discourse on morality and spirituality. The lesson here is on family and protecting your children - how far would you go?

I loved this film. it was probably closest to 'Signs' in pace and message. Visually, it was stunning. I love the way Shyamalan captures the facial expressions and feelings of his characters, and while I guessed the outcome of the film, it was still great to sit and watch.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A film behind its time, January 11, 2005
This review is from: The Village (DVD)
Normally one would call a fantasic film that pushes the boundaries of movie making a film that is "ahead of its time." I disagree. I think this one pushes the envelope backward a bit. It strives not for amazing effects or expanding the boundaries of what is acceptable on screen in terms of sexuality or gore, but it strives for something that too often seems lost in hollywood today: thought.

Here's the bottom line: if you want a movie that challenges your brain to do something besides keep your heart moving, watch The Village. If you want a movie that will kill whatever brain cells you have left after a lifetime of watching nothing but MTV, watch Alien Vs Preditor. The Village requires reflection, patience, character development, and a good discussion later on the issue of whether evil is learned or inborn. Notice how this movie sets the world on its head -the most "innocent" character is the most violent, the quietest is the bravest, the blind is the most adventursome, and the parents who are supposed to protect their children are the ones who by their own choice subject them to disease and death.

This is not a schmulzy shock/terror movie like "Halloween" or "Friday the 13th." This is a film the likes of which hasn't been seen since Alfred the Great (Hitchcock) died. This is a horror movie in the greatest sense: we have met the enemy, and we are him.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a thriller with shades of Hitchcock, not horror., August 3, 2004
By 
I have been accused often enough of "expectation bias" coloring my reactions to films. You know, that's where you go into a film experience expecting (usually) to love it based on a particular actor, writer or director who has thrilled you in the past. Usually, your standards are so artificially high after all the anticipation that you are almost guaranteed a letdown when you actually see that film. Then a reverse halo effect takes place in which you find fault with everything in the movie, from the acting on down to the scenery. You're disappointed, so it all just blew.

Strangely enough, although I loved M. Night Shyamalan's previous films, I was not especially disappointed with this departure from his usual subject matter and plotting in The Village. I enjoyed it despite the fact that it was quite different from what I had been anticipating. On the other hand this latest offering from the mysterious director of Signs, Unbreakable and Sixth Sense has some well-known movie reviewers practically slinging venom through cyberspace. What gives?

This story takes place in a nameless village somewhere in the eastern region of the US, possibly a cult of some sort, and is set in an undetermined time that looks as if it could be the mid-1800s. An uneasy truce between the villagers and the enigmatic denizens of the surrounding forest has been in place for an unspecified time, unbroken "for many years". We don't see the beings for a good portion of the film, which allows our imaginations to build them up as we speculate: Werewolves? Aliens? Goblins? One thing's for sure, they're large and predatory, and if you cross their boundaries they're also vengeful. So naturally, some id10t villager decides to mess with this pact and breach the woods. Now, at the worst possible moment, a young man is critically wounded and in need of more advanced medicine from the towns beyond the forest, but of course that would mean aggravating the creatures even more and endangering the life of the person who goes to fetch the drugs.

The acting was good in some cases and wonderful for the most part. I like the fact that while there was a good representation of power names among the cast, the true hero of the story is played by an unknown, Dallas Bryson Howard, with a genuine feel for what makes a smart and determined young woman tick. For out of the entire town it is Ivy the blind girl who rises to the challenge of saving Lucius in the name of love. Unbelievably, Ivy is given permission by the Elders to set off alone on her mission with two escorts who must stay back when she gets to the main road. A bit hard to credit, but then wait until you see the kind of savvy the creatures are dealing with in the person of Ivy.

The main thing that will disappoint the overly hyped up public, I believe, is the fact that this plot is a Thriller rather than Horror or Speculative Fiction. It's as if once a director starts off his career in a particular direction, he isn't "allowed" by the fans - or mainstream movie critics, for that matter -- to evolve in any other genre. Get over it, people. I can just hear the praise to high heavens from the professional critics had this movie been made by a newbie director. And yes it has a few too-convenient plot flaws and features people with a more innocent, sedentary mentality than we normally encounter, so what? Enjoy The Village for the Hitchcock-inspired mood piece that it is, if you are capable of checking your preconceived notions (and game boys) at the door first.

The Village will appeal to anybody who appreciates films like Brotherhood of the Wolf, Memento and Identity. Recommended with some (few) reservations.

-Andrea, aka Merribelle
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful film that falls apart at the end, February 28, 2005
By 
Jerry Jackson Jr. (Cincinnati, OH United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Village (DVD)
Let me start out by saying that I love M. Night Shyamalan's work. I even loved MOST of this film. I won't give away the surprise for those of you who still haven't seen it, but I'll voice my opinion as to why so many people have written negative reviews of this movie.

Long story short: there was no point to the twist ending other than the twist ending.

In Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense, the twist at the end of the movie was essential to leading the main character to the next stage of his life (or afterlife). In Unbreakable, the twist ending resulted in a revelation for both the main characters and further established Willis' character as a hero in the minds of the audience. In Signs, the twist ending completely changes the way Mel Gibson's character views the world/universe and our place in it ... allowing him to reclaim his lost faith. In all of these movies the twist ending was the foundation for the final scenes of the film ... creating a frame for Shyamalan to say "this is the point of the movie."

In The Village, the twist ending comes and it reveals ... nothing but the twist ending. Yes, the twist was cool and it makes you view the whole movie in a different way (just like in Shyamalan's previous films), but this time there was no clear point to the twist. None of the characters had a true life changing moment as a result of the twist in The Village. I mean, imagine if in The Matrix everyone discovered that the world is a computer-generated hoax and the reaction from the characters was "So what?" When a plot twist radically changes EVERYTHING in the lives of your characters you need to show the audience that this change MATTERS in the lives of your characters. Shyamalan gave us an AMAZING twist in The Village, and the characters in the film couldn't have cared less. You can argue "that" was the point (that no one in the village cared) ... but I don't think so.

If the characters in a movie don't care about what happens to them, then neither will the audience ... and that's why I suspect so many people felt let down by The Village.
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The Village (Full Screen Edition) - Vista Series
The Village (Full Screen Edition) - Vista Series by M. Night Shyamalan (DVD - 2005)
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