The Wahlberg  

Monday, June 30, 2008

My father-in-law watches a lot of movies. Other than video games, it's probably his favorite pass time. While he was visiting we decided to go see one of the movies opening that weekend, The Happening. Except we could never remember the name of the film so we called it The Wahlberg.

Anyway, we didn't see it the first weekend because not everyone could get together on a time. And after the opening day we saw that the reviews were not favorable. We hesitated, but in the end decided to shell out the full price for it anyway a week after opening day. Why is it that bad reviews rarely dissuade people who have already made up their mind to see a movie?

But the reviews could not have prepared me for how bad this movie actually was. The acting and the script hit me immediately. I don't think one actor in the entire movie (except maybe the little girl) ever said a word that wasn't said or emoted without heavy drama. For about half the movie I thought maybe they were trying for a new style or a parody. Whatever they were trying for, it didn't work.

Even the love story in the movie was plastic and stupid. I hardly felt like the characters knew each other, much less were married to each other.

The first scene in the classroom where Wahlberg's character is explaining science. He almost makes a good point about how there are things that we may never know or may never be able to explain, except that somehow he comes off as anti-science and anti-intellectual. When he tries to use the scientific method later in the movie he comes off as a complete idiot.

*** Spoiler Alert ***

The main premise of the movie was that all plants started working together to develop a neurotoxin that was only released when a certain amount of people were together in one place. That number of people kept shrinking until it was down to at least three. The neurotoxin was carried on a wind, created by pressure changes? the plants? we don't really ever know. Somehow that nuero-toxin caused people to lose their sense of selves and their sense of self-preservation. No, they didn't just lose their sense of self-preservation, but the toxin actually turned their sense of self-preservation into a sense of self-destruction.

I have several problems with this premise. How are all plants suddenly communicating and working together to create this toxin? Plants aren't all the same, but evolved through different lines. Grasses and trees and flowers and bushes are different species.

How is it that the plants can create a neurotoxin that effects humans at a primitive level and yet not effect any other animal. Do we not share a common evolution? Would that evolution not include the instinct for self-preservation? Did humans somehow evolve that instinct separately?

I know this is science-based fiction, but I prefer my sci-fi based in some sort of real science. I feel like M. Night Shyamalan didn't understand a thing about evolution. And I suspect that his understanding of science in general is poor. I listened to a podcast interview with him on Science Talk where he talks about placebo and explains the effect as people creating energy to heal themselves.

And the way people killed themselves was idiotic. Running into a lion cage and offering an arm to a lion is not the best way to commit suicide. The are probably 20 other ways this man could have more easily and efficiently killed himself. Tearing off an arm will eventually cause death, but not right away. And if a lion tears off your arm, it's not going to pop off like it's perforated.

Even if the dialog and acting weren't abysmal, I still wouldn't like this movie based on how poorly executed the science is. If Shyamalan had been less interested in preaching about the environment and more interested in understanding it, this might have been an entirely different movie. Don't waste your time or money on this pile of crap.

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5 comments: to “ The Wahlberg

  • The Exterminator
    Monday, June 30, 2008 at 2:00:00 PM CDT  

    Well, now you've got me worried. I was in the backyard, and I overheard a very disturbing conversation between a nearly dead sycamore tree and some buttonweed.

  • John Evo
    Monday, June 30, 2008 at 3:05:00 PM CDT  

    Why is it that bad reviews rarely dissuade people who have already made up their mind to see a movie?

    Oh, not me. I don't know how many movies I have looked forward to seeing them, only never to watch them because of things I'd heard. OR, if it's not too bad, it may simply keep me from GOING to the movie and waiting for video.

    This movie is a good example. I was kind of interested. Then I heard a couple of poor reviews and it slipped down to "video". Now, I read this from you (and friends who share my sensibilities get the highest review weight of all) it's off my "video list".

    By the way, I've been TRYING to get a regular post going called "Atheist Movies". Maybe you and I could make it a joint project and offer our picks of movies that an atheist/freethinker would enjoy. They need not be ABOUT atheism at all. But like you pointed out in your review, things like an anti-science attitude will kill a movie. By the same token, characters who are doing whatever it is they do in the movie, but do it in a way I can relate to as a rationalist, will rate highly on my "atheist movie" list. What do you think? You could handle the "in theaters now" and I'll do "get it on video".

  • Ordinary Girl
    Monday, June 30, 2008 at 3:19:00 PM CDT  

    Ex: If you had been the one to make the movie it would have been much more interesting. I'd stay out of the back yard for now, just to be safe. It should blow over by 9 AM tomorrow.

    Evo: That sounds like fun. My problem would be motivation to actually watch a movie every x amount of time. How would we do it? Both review the same or each review a movie once a week? Would we come up with a list and work through them or review movies we've already seen?

  • vjack
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 5:52:00 AM CDT  

    I keep hearing that this is another ID film. That is enough to keep me away.

  • Ordinary Girl
    Wednesday, July 2, 2008 at 6:06:00 AM CDT  

    Vjack: I tried not to read many reviews before writing my own, but yeah, it didn't really sink in until I read a few other reviews.

    It's more subtle than Signs, which always bothered me with the Goddidit! moment. Wahlberg basically lectures kids at the beginning about bee colony collapse and says good science is about admitting that we won't ever know. At the end he reiterates the point by saying that an explanation will be assigned, but we won't really know.

    He reiterates the point in his Sci Am interview and they don't call him on it. They only try to steer the conversation in ways where he could be making logical sense. But his crazy shows through.


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