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275 of 314 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 Amazon Customer

10 of 11 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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275 of 314 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fool me four times? Not bad, M. Night Shyamalan, August 3, 2004
Amazon Customer (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
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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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40 of 42 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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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Let Her Go...Ivy Runs Toward Hope...", September 21, 2004
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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18 of 18 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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33 of 38 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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Day Twilight Zone, December 5, 2004
A Kid's Review
This review is from: The Village (DVD)
Arguably the best film I have ever seen. M. Night Shyamalan is one of, if not the best story tellers of all time. In "The Village", Night takes you on a fantastic thriller through the woods and into an open clearing where residents of "The Village" live there everyday lives knowing that there are creatures surrounding them, mysteriously hidden by the trees that are surrounding their village from all sides.

In this thriller, not only does Night introduce a plot, with such compexity that it could be catagorized as an illusion, but he also takes you deeper in the village.

These fantasic sub-plots are so real that by the end of the movie, you realize Night has successfully hypnotized you and brought you into the world of "The Village".

Night has gone from (Signs) the Reverend Grahm Hess who's relationship with God is changed from bad to good as his family goes through the frightening realization that the world is ending, to the complex/realistic characters, who's personalities play a definate role in the many ways it could have possibly turned out in the ending of "The Village", if even one of them had been changed.

The biggest thing that has occurred to me about this amazing movie, is the fact that it could really happen. Night's greatest accomplishment in this movie was in creating the biggest illusion in movie history. The fact that he tricks you, but then again, gives the secret ending away the whole time, is amazing.

If you have not yet seen the movie, and I hope no one has told you the ending, watch it. I challenge you to figure the ending out before it comes. I can garantee you, you wont ever get it until Night wants you to. And if you have seen it, watch it again. See if you can spot the most obvious clues.

And to those critics out there who said it was predictable, maybe you need to think about another career. Lying to everybody is just wrong!
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13 of 14 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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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another brilliant slow brew by Shyamalan, December 6, 2004
Christian Buckley (Washington State, United States) - See all my reviews
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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16 of 18 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
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Subtle and Intriguing, August 6, 2004
I grew up in a very conservative Christian home. I remember hearing about how the world is slipping down a moral slope. With prayer in school gone and the lie of "separation of church and state" permeating our society. We as American's have lost those Judeo-Christian ideals that the founding fathers put in place. Hence we were a fallen nation, and that's why there are so many problems in this Country.

While I'm not asking anyone whose reading this to embrace these ideas, they permeate M. Knight Shyamalan's new film "The Village." An intriguing motion picture that asks and yet never quite answers the questions many American's are asking in this post 9/11, postmodern, and enlightened period.

THE VILLAGE is a quaint little place far from the bustling "towns" of evil and greed. It's a 19-century prairie town, and a utopia where decent people live out their lives in peace and modest prosperity. Money is not and issue, for the people of THE VILLAGE have no need of it. They all speak and act like Quakers, and hold close to traditional family values.

Of course THE VILLAGE has its own local government. It is ruled by board of elders, who are strict but fair. There seems to be only one rule, "Stay Out of Covington Forrest."

You see the forest is the only problem with the Village. It's full of monsters. As long as the people stay out of the wood The Monsters leave them alone. The other problem is that The Village needs some basic drugs to save its people. As the film opens we see the casket of a young boy who died because he did not have simple medicine's to keep him alive. It's a scary existence but there is peace, so it might just be a trade off? Or is it?

THE VILLAGE is the type of movie I personally love. It is a film about subtext. But what gives the film its spark is the fact that it doesn't play its message at you. But you only realize this if you give it some time and patience. If you overlook its flaws, what you'll find is a movie that speaks to any audience. Without being preachy and overwrought.

It plays with some of the things we as American's have gotten used to in these dark times. The color terror alert systems, false terror alarms, and presents people like you and me, people who want to go about their days without having to worry about the darkness hiding in the woods. THE VILLAGE is a typical suburban town, if it was transplanted onto the prairie.

I loved the scene with Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix, GLADIATOR) and Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard, The Grinch) as they sit on the porch in the middle of the night and preach their love to each other. The scene is alive with energy and light. Shyamalan frames the shot so close up, you feel like your part of the action, and the actors turn the stilted Quaker like dialogue on its head.

Howard is just phenomenal. She fills her character with color. The other actors around her seem weighed down by the stilted dialogue, which I'll admit takes some getting used to. Howard enchants from the very first frame and commands the audience's eyes. Like a young Holly Hunter mixed with Julia Roberts, Bryce Howard has the potential to be the next big thing. Watch out pop a couple years from now we could have another Oscar winner in the family.

The other bright spot in the film is Adrien Brody (The Pianist) he portrays Noah the town retard. Man did he have a good time. There is energy in his portrayal that just gushes with enthusiasm. It looks like he's having a ball. I'll admit there was one moment I thought he was laying it on a little too much. But I'll forgive him that small moment cause he's just dead on the rest of the time.

At its heart THE VILLAGE is social commentary for both sides of an argument. For some they will look at these characters and think them pathetic. Why give up your freedom for safety? Why allow the government to fuel your fears? But other will look at these characters and say "isn't it great that these people got away from the horror of this world? Isn't it wonderful that they created a utopia? I wish I lived in The Village, free from all the evil influences of the world at large."

As for the patented surprise ending, it works... sort of. If you give the movie its due you'll be satisfied. I smelled it from a mile away and still took a lot away from the movie. If you don't buy the premise you'll be let down and hate the movie. But that's okay. Great movies don't have to be universally loved, as long as you don't leave the theater indifferent the movie will have an effect on you. It will keep you talking and that's a good thing.

**** Out of 5
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The Village
The Village by Joaquin Phoenix (DVD - 2005)
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