Devil - Grading & Discussion

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Agent Richard07, Sep 17, 2010.

?

Grade the movie...

  1. Excellent

    20.0%
  2. Above Average

    60.0%
  3. Average

    20.0%
  4. Below Average

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Poor

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Saga

    Saga Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    it actually wasn't that bad of a movie. i went in expecting it to be terrible but it was entertaining. parts were slow and there was a lot of shots with people just reacting to what they see on a computer screen. still, it was alright. not great, not terrible. i'd say rent it one night to kill some time.
     
  2. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    It's worth repeating that M.Night had almost nothing to do with this movie. All he did was come up with the story. He pretty much said, "I've got a story about people trapped in an elevator, one of them might be the Devil." Then someone else produced it, someone else wrote the screenplay and someone else directed it.

    So it's not, entirely, fair to judge M.Night (one way or the other) with this movie. (It's just humorous to me his name was used to "promote" the movie.)
     
  3. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored The Mod Awakens Moderator

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    I don't know if this is the case with Shyamalan, but I'd imagine as you grow more popular and well-respected as a director you gain a degree of independence from studio interference that you wouldn't have enjoyed before. Many times the studio can interfere negatively in a production, but other times they may curb the director's own bad choices and tendencies.

    I actually think he's very good as a director at setting a mood and building suspense, he just needs a "no man" at his side at all times to prevent him from writing himself into the script as a writer who saves the world or to point out glaring flaws in story logic like the fact that aliens who are allergic to water probably aren't going to visit a planet covered in it whilst announcing their presence beforehand despite having cloaking devices (to name just two of the countless flaws in 'Signs,' which I still liked in spite of that).

    Even in his worst movies there are some genuinely scary and creepy parts: the grassy-pancake-wolf-thingies in 'Lady in the Water' were kind of freaky despite being ridiculous, and the mass suicides in 'The Happening' were creepy as hell until you find out it was an attack by environmentally conscious greenery. So, I don't think directing a compelling or frightening scene is his problem. He just needs a strong filmmaking partner to work with him from start to finish, I think.
     
  4. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Oh like you wouldn't visit a planet so filled with poison that it actually exists in the air itself! Seriously, if the aliens reacted so strongly to water (which sort-of brings up questions on how they are alive to begin with considering water is a fairly necessary component to life) why didn't something as simply as the humidity in the air react with them?
     
  5. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored The Mod Awakens Moderator

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    I would, but I'd have at least worn a space suit instead of walking around butt naked. Something about that no visible genitalia thing just makes aliens want to go running around in their birthday suits.

    I'd also bring a Transphasic Quantum Magnetometric GPS or two so I don't have to rely on crop circles to guide my spaceships in for a landing, but that's just me.

    It's almost as if the aliens were the Griswolds of space and the Earth was the galaxy's largest ball of mud that they wanted to visit on a whim while heading somewhere else.
     
  6. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    :lol:

    I'm picturing one of the aliens singing "Love for Sale" after encountering an Orion woman in a convertible. :lol:

    And no one's telling me that the aliens didn't know that water was like acid to them. Water is the easiest substance in the universe to make; you burn Hydrogen. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe and the aliens were obviously tolerant to an Oxygen environment. So in all of their scientific history that's led up to them building intersystem space ships no one tried to light a room full of Hydrogen and Oxygen gas on fire only to discover it produced acid vapor?
     
  7. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    Like most of Shyamalan's movies, Devil has a lot of suspense and build-up and you feel like you really want the movie to get to it's point. That's not necessarily a bad thing, it just is what it is. I guess that's the nature of suspense thrillers, but you especially feel that way with this movie. Devil is also similar to Lady in the Water in that there's a character (a religious security guard) who knows the legend of the devil and helps both the characters and the audience with what's going on and what to expect. This time though, the characters start off dismissing this "religious nut" and what he has to offer. I won't say how the movie ends, but I liked it. It felt somewhat rushed and glossed over, but I liked it. Felt like a Twilight Zone episode with a moral at the end. I couldn't decide between 'average' and 'above avarage'. I think I'll go with 'above average' for its engaging story, decent ending and good performances from no-name actors.

    I did and I was very much looking forward to it.

    It takes place in and around a building in Philadelphia. Even if it did take place in just an elevator, it still might have been interesting. Cube, Phone Booth and an episode of Babylon 5 pulled off the "all in one room" thing quite well. There's also an upcoming movie with Ryan Reynolds called Burried and from what I've read, the whole thing takes place in a coffin.

    Good guess.

    It still looks and feels very much like something written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan himself.

    And about Signs, it, like most of Shyamalan's movies, has problems with logic (aliens harmed by water), but it did extremely well at portraying an alien invasion from the perspective of a regular family with the right mood to go with it.
     
  8. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    Wasn't it more like there was something in the water? IIRC the little girl wouldn't drink the water because she thought there was something wrong with it which is why she left all those glasses of water around the house.
     
  9. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    ^ Good catch. It's been brought up before, but I keep forgetting, only to get pulled back into the consensus that the aliens were harmed by simple water. I don't know if there's anything in the movie to discredit this idea though. Hope not, because it works.

    The devil is stopped in the end, but not by way of any kind of supernatural battle. The devil is stopped because one of the characters gives up their fear and guilt so that hell (literal of figurative) can't take hold.
     
  10. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Anything I've ever read or seen says it was the water, can't say I've ever seen anything about it being something in the water.
     
  11. Agent Richard07

    Agent Richard07 Admiral Admiral

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    Fighting off an alien invasion with a garden hose. OK.

    "Damn aliens! Get off my lawn!"
     
  12. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It's sort of a good example why I'm not a big fan of salvation by grace alone. You could trigger it anytime the Devil shows up to eat souls.

    I'm sure this happens all the time. Major loophole. :(

    Edit: btw, and not to get into the whole ball of wax, but there's nothing wrong with a personal relationship with Christ as such; however most people I know that claim to have them ain't Christian except by that very limited criterion.

    I guess these probably all fall under the magic equivalent of the narrative rule that prohibits Reed Richards from transforming the world into a technotopic paradise despite fifty years of constant super-scientific innovation. Stephen Strange is Useless?

    I think both probably have the same narrative motivation: showing a world where God intervenes personally, unsubtly and often creates a world totally unlike our own at best, and at worst breaks suspension of disbelief entirely.

    A world where the Devil can physically intervene is not quite so bad, because the Devil is not omnipotent. (Compare this to pagan gods--they can intervene directly as well, because, again, they are limited.) God is more difficult to place within a narrative, because God is, trivially, a deus ex machina.

    Interestingly, that's actually part of why M. Night movies blow. They create worlds where God does intervene personally, unsubtly, and often. The world of Signs, for example, exists solely so Mel Gibson can get over his wife's death and believe again. And it's terrible.

    So, it's like a Neil Gaiman hell?:confused:
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2010
  13. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Re. the spoiler item: I would accept that as a resolution to the plot, for that character only. Not as a magical solution that suddenly banishes the boogeyman.

    I think what I'm trying to say is that there's sort of a fundamental disconnect at work in movies like these. You've got immortal souls, immortal beings, afterlives, places of eternal punishment, all of which should be governed by distinctly metaphysical rules. (I'm not going to debate what those rules are for fear of starting a religious war!) Suffice it to say that belief should be a very strong part of those rules, and it's not unreasonable to suggest that a demonic villain can be defeated by a sincere and abiding belief in Jesus, Allah, or whoever. (It may be unreasonable to show it, given religious differences these days, but that's another story!)

    But these movies rarely work that way. Despite the fact that demonic villains are implicitly or explicitly shown to follow metaphysical rules, they're almost always defeated by physical (or at least formulaic) means. Recite these magic words and it will banish him. Arrange the puzzle box in a certain configuration and it will banish him. Stick him with a magic sword/piece of cold iron/beam from a magic wand and it will banish him. Give the cursed coin to someone else and... well, it won't banish him, but he'll instantly forget about you and go after the other person instead.

    The disconnect is showing a being of godlike power who doesn't abide by the rules of this world, yet he still somehow gets defeated by the rules of this world (and isn't too smart, either). Remember, these guys are still part of the power structure that governs where your soul goes after you die, so in the end, "outwitting" them is either meaningless or contradictory.

    Again, I'm not asking for an explanation. The writers are clearly not thinking that far along, or else they just don't believe in the afterlife anyway.

    Conversely, with "Devil", if M. Night or whoever really gets the credit for the story will resolve it in a different way, I'd say that's refreshing.
     
  14. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Brad "Cinema Snob" Jones' review compares it to The Happening, that is, it's on that same level of badness--and on that same level of unintentional entertainment through hilarity. Maybe I'll go check this out after all.

    (In fairness, he does say that it is more effective than The Happening--so it's not quite as bad, but still rather bad.)
     
  15. Goliath

    Goliath Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think you're confusing magical thinking with religious thinking. The two are not the same. These types of films take place in a magical universe, which is quite different from a religious universe.

    Magic is essentially a form of technology--the use of metaphysical forces to affect the physical world. And the assumption underlying all magic is that the metaphysical world is governed by laws, the same as the physical world: as below, so above. The magician does not entreat metaphysical forces to come to his aid, the way a religious person does: he commands them to do his bidding, in the same way that scientists and engineers mix chemicals or smash atoms.

    Belief doesn't enter into it. The magician does not merely believe--he knows. Indeed, he knows things that man was not meant to know. In such a world, arguing that a sincere belief in a deity should allow you to overcome demonic forces is like arguing that a sincere belief in being rescued should save you from drowning.

    Take The Exorcist, for example. The exorcism shown in this film, according to the Roman Rite, is a composite religious-magical ritual. The exorcists pray and entreat God to save His servant, and use His overwhelming power to drive the demon from Regan McNeill's body. But they also use various magical incantations and gestures which are intended to invoke that divine power automatically. "The power of Christ compels you!" they cry.

    In a monotheistic religious universe, there is no possibility of the conflict that is central to drama: indeed, in theory, there is no conflict at all. Everything happens according to God's will and pleasure. God will either intervene, or He won't, for His own ineffable and incomprehensible reasons. The protagonist's prayers will either be answered, or they won't. If they're answered, the protagonist will succeed: if they aren't, he won't.

    In a magical universe, by contrast, God is remote, and metaphysical conflict is just as possible as physical conflict. Those who understand the laws of the supernatural world can manipulate it for their own ends, and use it to their advantage, just like those who understand the laws of the natural world. Solve the puzzle box, for example, and summon the Cenobites--if you dare. Draw a pentagram on the floor, take off your clothes, recite an incantation in old French, and the Devil will appear. Say "Beetlejuice" three times, and he will appear or disappear. And so on.
     
  16. Silvercrest

    Silvercrest Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Interesting distinction. I've gotta think about this.
     
  17. Locutus of Bored

    Locutus of Bored The Mod Awakens Moderator

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    No, that was just what "God" made the little girl think so that she would leave glasses of water all over the house that could be spilled on the alien when they were fighting it in the living room. I think she uses a couple of different reasons for not liking it, from it tasting funny to it being full of "microbes," which of course there are in everyone's drinking water every day.

    It would imply a global change in the content of the water for your idea to work, since it was mentioned on the radio that they were killing the aliens with water in the Middle East and people were gathering around bodies of water because the aliens seemed to be avoiding them. I think someone would have noticed if the microbial content of water around the world had drastically and uniformly changed.

    Plus, even if it were just the water around their farm, he waters his crops from the same water source, so walking naked through those water-covered fields of corn in the constant mist depicted should have been agony for the aliens. I could only imagine what those poor aliens harassing kids at the birthday party in Brazil so close to the world's largest rain forest must have gone through. I guess also they checked with Stormy Biiblebrox the alien meteorologist for the global Accuweather Doppler 5000 forecast to avoid the hundreds of places on Earth where it would be raining at any given time.

    Additionally, the water damaged the alien's skin instantly, like it was acid. Even with extraterrestrial biology, it stretches logic (even more so than the water) to imagine that microbes would act that fast or have that effect.

    The movie (admittedly unevenly) implies that God doesn't so much take direct action on the big stuff, but rather gives you little hints, nudges and personal traits to point you in the right direction. If not, surely he could have simply made it rain and saved everyone a lot of trouble. By "unevenly" I mean that I guess causing a poor guy to fall asleep at the wheel after a hard day at work helping animals so he could cut another faithful follower's wife in half with his car so she can deliver a vague message about the now faithless man's brother seems like taking pretty direct action to me, just in a completely ridiculous and roundabout way. So does making his brother unable to avoid swinging at every pitch, his daughter paranoid of water contamination, and giving his son serious asthma. The movie seems to imply that these are gifts from God, which then calls into question why he couldn't intervene in stopping the aliens before millions of people were killed or kidnapped for who knows what purpose.
     
  18. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    God works in mysterious ways.

    He's kind of like a YouTube poster. After he made the universe he looked at all of the other gods and said, "First!"
     
  19. Myasishchev

    Myasishchev Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    On a completely unnecessary and didactic note, an alien physiology that would react to water like a high-pH acid is a pretty standard hard science fiction idea.

    The problem with Signs is that aliens with (say) an NH3 body chemistry would want Earth at all (or could stand our climate, or even our O2-laden atmosphere). It would like if humans went to Venus, without suits, and tried to rough up whatever native life form could, in principle, live there. The rationale is so faulty, that the practical nitpicks aren't even the dumbest thing about it.

    I once heard tell of a theory that the aliens weren't aliens, but were, in fact, demons. I have even seen this be referenced, in an unconfirmed fashion, as a theory that Shyamalan himself endorsed.

    Now, it has some immediate appeal (the water is holy water, impliedly blessed by Mel Gibson's anti-Semitism; and demons are more prone to act like crack-addled burglars than an organized military). But it really doesn't fit into the film, with the spaceships (albeit invisible) and global struggle. So it's a bit of a failure, although you can see how, with the right tweaking, it could have been a movie about the Hellmouth opening up under Fucktown, Pennsylvania, instead of Independence Day, But Dumb.
     
  20. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    Well, I just watched the ending to Signs again on Netflix.

    According to the news reports, somewhere in the Middle East they found a "primitive method" to fight back but they did not know what it was yet.

    Now this could be:
    1) Water (obfuscating the method for the surprise ending? in-story though it seems like it wouldn't be that hard to tell everyone *WATER*)
    2) Faith (the holy water or whatever theory)
    3) Maybe my idea of something in the water? (I'm not sure what exactly that could be though that would be considered "primitive")

    Does leave it a bit open to interpretation though.
     

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