Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Lady in the Water

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
6 out of 10
Extras Rating:
7 out of 10
Movie Details:
View here

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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Paul Giamatti as Cleveland Heep
Bryce Dallas Howard as Story
Jeffrey Wright as Mr. Dury
Bob Balaban as Harry Farber
Sarita Choudhury as Anna Ran
Cindy Cheung as Young-Soon Choi
M. Night Shyamalan as Vick Ran
Freddy Rodríguez as Reggie
Bill Irwin as Mr. Leeds
Mary Beth Hurt as Mrs. Bell
Noah Gray-Cabey as Joey Dury
Joseph D. Reitman as Long Haired Smoker
Jared Harris as Goatee Smoker
Grant Monohon as Emaciated Smoker
John Boyd as One-Eyebrow Smoker

Special Features:
"Lady in the Water: A Bedtime Story" featurette
"Reflections of Lady in the Water" 6-part documentary
Auditions
Deleted Scenes
Gag Reel
Trailer

Other Info:
Anamorphic Widescreen (2.40:1)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
French and Spanish Languages
Running Time: 109 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

"Lullaby. And good fright. The creator of The Sixth Sense and Signs wants to tell you a bedtime story.

A story M. Night Shyamalan told his children is the springboard for this spellbinding plunge into the supernatural. Paul Giamatti plays an apartment manager who finds an otherworld water nymph named Story (Bryce Dallas Howard) in the pool, then sets out to help her return to her home, The Blue World. "It's about to get very dangerous," she warns. And very fascinating. Because fierce Blue World monsters prowl nearby, determined to destroy Story -- and anyone who aids her, including the apartment dwellers who come to realize they are players in her tale. Their lives have undiscovered purposes. And how they defy the monsters to fulfill those destinies forms the amazing heart of discovery in Lady in the Water."

"Lady in the Water" is rated PG-13 for some frightening sequences.

Mini-Review:
I'm a pretty big fan of M. Night Shyamalan. I even liked "The Village" though it was widely panned. So I was pretty eager to see what he had in store for us with "Lady in the Water." The final product was OK, but not everything I was hoping for. I fully understood what Shyamalan was trying to do in making a modern bedtime story. He weaves an elaborate history of magical creatures and powers. However, it's a little out there for even Shyamalan. The water nymphs are named "Narfs" (which reminded me of "Pinky and the Brain" every time it was uttered. NARF!!!). There's an elaborate set of rules in this world that are a bit confusing – the creatures can interact in some situations and not others. Some things make them sick, some don't. It tends to get convoluted. And if you're not fully bought into this fairy tale world by the climax, you may find yourself snickering at the conclusion. It doesn't help matters that Shyamalan uses this film to unleash his fury on movie critics who have unfairly blasted him in the past. It's further made to look like directorial hubris as Shyalaman casts himself as a major hero in the film rather than his trademark cameo.

On a positive note, the film is brilliantly cast. Leading them is Paul Giamatti as Cleveland Heep. He's fantastic as the meek handyman with a mysterious past. The rest of the supporting cast is made up of a bunch of faces that you vaguely recognize but are still strong personalities. While the fairy tale realm requires a lot of suspension of disbelief from audiences, the performances from these characters goes a long way in making it as successful as it is.

In the end, "Lady in the Water" is the kind of film that fantasy fans will enjoy and Shyamalan fans will want to check out no matter what the reviews say.

The DVD has a slim but thorough selection of bonus features. In the "Lady in the Water: A Bedtime Story" featurette, Shyamalan explains how the idea for the story was based on a bedtime story he made up for his kids. It was also turned into a children's book. This featurette is only 5 minutes long. To get more into the making of the movie, you have to view "Reflections of Lady in the Water", a 6-part documentary that's about 34 minutes long. It covers the usual topics – the characters, the look, the location, the creatures, post-production, etc. You'll also find two minutes of audition clips for extras, a 3 minute gag reel, trailers and DVD-ROM Weblinks. Rounding things out is 5 minutes of deleted scenes; most of the scenes are nothing significant featuring more interaction between Heep and Story, some brief scenes with the tenants, and more.

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