The premise is this… It starts in New York City‘s Central Park and begins spreading throughout the entire Northeast United States. People are stricken by a strange toxin that makes them do harm to themselves. Is it a terrorist attack? A force of nature? The End of Days? What?
The movie follows Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg), high school science teacher, and his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) as they try to escape the events unfolding with their friend Julian (John Legiuzamo) and his daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez).
I don’t want to spoil the end, but not everyone dies. Not yet anyway.
Remember when I mentioned why I thought this was a stinker? There are a few things I look for in a movie – not least of which happens to be whether or not a character changes from the beginning of the story to the end. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about Elliot, Alma, Julian, and Jess. It was that Elliot (ostensibly the main character of the film) didn’t change. His experience and demeanor didn’t change, even in the face of insane circumstances.
Elliot witnessed several horrific deaths, not the least of which was of two teens who joined their little ragtag group about 2/3 of the way through the film. Who wouldn’t be changed by that?
Alma changed a bit, going from the self absorbed, almost cheating wife to the loving wife excited to have a baby at the end. But Elliot was a constant.
If you watch the movie, pay close attention to Mark Wahlberg’s facial expressions. He doesn’t seem to change his expression hardly at all once the deaths start “happening”. That was kind of annoying.
The other thing that kind of took me out of this movie was some of the special effects. There’s a scene where they watch video on a cell phone where a zookeeper walks into a lion exhibit and offers himself up to be eaten. It comes off like part of a Monty Python routine where the Black Knight loses his limbs in combat.
All of that said, I didn’t hate this film. I just didn’t like it much either. It just kind of plodded along towards its conclusion.
I really hope M. Night doesn’t destroy the Avatar: The Last Airbender series by making it into a live action film. His last two films have been pretty lackluster. Lady in the Water was better than The Happening, but not by a whole lot. Really Signs, Unbreakable, and The Sixth Sense were his last good three movies for me.
This one gets a 2 out of 4. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. It was just kind of there.
I’m not looking forward to a M. Night Avatar movie. Hope he exceeds my expectations.
p.s. If you want to watch this film, I recommend renting it first. But if you want to buy it, pick it up at Amazon: