It's very painful to see someone fall so hard after having such a great start. I became a fan of M. Night around the time Signs came out on dvd yet before The Village came out in cinemas. This was also around the time I started becoming a film buff. His films are very mesmorising to me not just from the stories he told but, like many great directors, the way he told them.
I've always loved the way how the camera gracefully moves around as it shows us what is happening, or what it's hiding from us. Long takes always drew my breath away and he knew how to use them. The scene in The Sixth Sense where we follow Toni Collette from the kitchen to the laundry, and when she comes back, ALL the cupboards and drawers are suddenly open. Or the scene in Signs where Mel Gibson carries his sick son to the couch and we end on the reflection of the TV screen.
I saw The Village at the cinema with my mother in 2004, and we see each Shyamalan film since. Even watching it again today, I still feel that The Village is very underrated, yet I believe this started the downturn of his career.
His next film Lady in the Water feels very weird to me. It just seems that this film doesn't have a clear view of common sense. (I mean, learning the prophecy from cereal packets?) As for that thing about casting himself as writer whose work will change the world, I didn't think much of it when I first saw it but when it was pointed out to me..... yeah, not the wisest move. Though at least he made so that the character would be killed visciously in the future.
I wouldn't call it bad, just unfortunate. It's more of a B-Movie to me, but at least there are still some very good things about it. James Newton Howard's music is beautiful and Chris Doyle's photography always looks nice. Even in his current films the best things in his films are the music & photography.
The Happening (M. Night's ACTUAL B-Movie) was the first one that left me felt terribly disappointed. I made the mistake in expecting more but receiving very little. It was nice to see him make a move into more violent territory but, at the time, it just didn't add up to much. I watched it again recently and I liked it better on the second viewing for seeing it at what he wanted to show us.
When it was announced that he was making an adaptation of The Last Airbender, I went to see the entire series anyway I could, and it's a great show. I had to wait 2 extra months for the film to come out to Australia and I tried not to read many reviews as possible, but from what I saw it wasn't pretty. Even with that in mind, when the film came out I told myself that I would see this film and at least TRY to like it. I made the decision to not see the film in 3D, since films should be able to stand on 2D alone.
Yet even though the fight scenes were spectacular, Andrew Lesnie's brilliant photography, JNH's music, there were some cute moments with the animals and the acting was pretty decent considering. But pretty much all I heard was exposition here and discription there, and the transitions between scenes felt so loose yet choppy at the same time usually connected by the narration. But I can say that I liked it better than when I saw The Happening for the first time.
I've said this before when The Happening came out but I still have faith in Shyamalan. I still believe that he has another good film in him and his current films prove to me he's still a fantastic director. As a writer, however, he's his own worst enemy. I've heard that he only directs his own scripts but if that's true, then these films should be clear that he needs someone to assist him with any other projects he has.
An Airbender sequel will pretty much never happen now, but I've heard he plans to reunite with Bruce Willis. If that's true or not, then I hope that film no. 10 will mark the resurrection he desperately needs.
For all our sakes.