M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie The Happening is coming out today (Friday the 13th! Ooo! Spooky!) but you wouldn’t really know it since it’s staring down the green goliath known as The Incredible Hulk.

Where as Made of Honor might have been a clever bit of counter programming when Iron Man hit theaters in early May (to the tune of a $15 million opening weekend), I don’t know anyone who is all that conflicted about making The Happening their second choice in their weekend activities.

Personally, I’ve had it out for this movie since I heard the title of it. I mean, The Happening? You might as well call it “Something Happens” or “Plot Progession – The Movie.” The Happening? Can Shyamalan not predict the torrent of terrible headlines if this movie tanks – i.e. “The Happening – Isn’t.” Yuk! Yuk! Yuk!

A league of uninventive critics thanks you, Mr. Shyamalan.

There’s been a lot of talk about Shyamalan’s career being on the line with this movie. I don’t know if The Happening is really all that make-or-break for him, but he’s certainly not the wunderkind we all thought he was when The Sixth Sense came out almost a decade ago.

Morea and more, people are looking for the infamous Shyamalan twist ending. He’s painted himself into a corner with it, to a degree. Because if there isn’t some big awe-inspiring twist, people feel cheated. If there is a twist, audiences spend the whole time trying to spot it before the big reveal.

Personally, I think Shyamalan needs to step outside of himself and try adapting someone else’s material for a change. So far, all of his movies have been written by him. And don’t forget those clever cameos he give himself in every movie! I wouldn’t find it so narcissistic is Shyamalan didn’t believe his own hype. Famously, after the success of The Sixth Sense, Shyamalan declared himself the next Hitchcock with the visual flair of Spielberg. One could probably chalk a dunderheaded statement like that to youthful inexperience. Except he seems to be immune to the progressive decline of his film’s box office success. It’s not humbled him at all.  Time to shake things up.

Incidentally, have you seen the commercials touting The Happening as Shyamalan’s FIRST “R” rated movie? As I illustrated in the comic, I have no idea why this is a selling point and they’ve really been pushing it hard. The red band trailer was certainly more graphic than I expected, but I don’t anticipate the film being a series of hangings, neck punctures and old men laying down in front of riding lawn mowers. If anything, that red band trailer is probably the “greatest hits” in the movie. The rest of it will be lingering shots of Mark Wahlberg looking confused.

Time will tell if The Happening will give Shyamalan’s career a lift. Early reviews appear encouraging. But for me, it’s a pass.

By the way, I went to a midnight showing of The Incredible Hulk last night. I didn’t get into bed until 2:30 in the morning and I’m dragging now. But as for the movie – it’s pretty good! I had read some reviews that said it was as good as Iron Man. I wouldn’t go that far. Iron Man had the good fortune of a bouncy and pithy Robert Downey Jr. so the dialogue had a lot more pop and swagger. There are LONG periods of time in The Incredible Hulk where no one says nuthin’!

Of course, if you are worried the movie will suck like the Ang Lee original, we’re in safe territory there. The movie features three great action sequences with the Hulk in full play and he shows up a lot earlier in this one than he does in the first movie. Director Louis Leterrier was smart to progressively show more and more of the Hulk and what he can do as the movie goes on.

The CG is good and the climatic battle at the end was expertly staged, but it felt like a cheat to have it take place at night. It obscured some of the action. Jeffery Wells had a good line about that last sequence although he called the fight “boring.” Said Wells, “Heavy-duty fights between powerful monsters are completely boring unless one of the combatants has some kind of advantage over the other. It’s like watching a battle of bad heavy-metal bands.”

But I happen to know that some people really, really like bad heavy metal bands. And if you do, you’re going to LOVE The Incredible Hulk.

That about does it for me. I hope everyone has a great weekend and I’ll see you here on Monday!

↓ Transcript
The first "R" rated movie from director M. Night Shyamalan - The Happening!

For the life of me, I can't understand why that's a selling point...

Adding more gore and violence to a movie doesn't make it scarier!

A cheap Hitchcock wannabe like Shyamalan should now that!

Heck, even Brian De Palma knows THAT!

But think of how well Shyamalan was able to scare up with a "PG-13" movie.

Imagine what he can do when it's no-holds-barred!

Tell me again why my movie got an "R" rating?

Two swears and Zooey Deschanel's cleavage.