M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady In The Water was originally due to be released through Disney. Due to script issues, The Sixth Sense director parted ways with them and gave the project over to Warner Brothers. Given the bad track record Disney has had of late in releasing bad movies, I can certainly understand the problems they had.
The basics of the whole thing are that Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti) runs an apartment building with a swimming pool out front. One night Heep nearly drowns in it and is saved by Story (Bryce Dallas Howard) who comes from another world of which the pool is a gateway to. Apparently she’s not supposed to be there and rather nasty looking creatures pop up in search of Story to keep her in Heep’s world for the taking.
But as it turns out, Story is a character in a bedtime story that became a real person. That means that the very creatures out to destroy Story are also not real either, until now. All of this would have made for an interesting story except that I didn’t feel it. I simply got bored with what was supposed to be a return to the quality that made Night famous in the first place.
One will never know exactly the problems that Disney had with Night's "bedtime story," but the biggest one is perhaps there were two stories that were fighting for attention.
I believe the perspective would seem more magical if it was told from that of Story herself – who until she becomes grown girl lost has something of an aura, which is in part because of Bryce Howard’s performance. Told from the perspective of Giamatti’s Heep, I felt that a much more interesting story was taking place – how an apartment manager acts as a counselor, mediator, and monotone best friend to the wackos of the world. The second Story enters the picture; I felt I wasn’t going to get that chance to see the other story through. In fact, minutes after she arrives creatures already start attacking Heep as he holds her in his arms.
I guess that was his way of saying “screw the character study, get on with the fantasy.”
I don’t understand what is happening with movies. I haven’t found a single one of any genre that has fully engaged me. I don’t care if I come out with tears, I wanna be at least able to know what’s going on and FEEL it. That seemed to be the same selling point with Superman Returns – that a new generation will embrace Brandon Routh and a bigger budget and forget about Christopher Reeve and blue screens.