Dir: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin

Trash City
Top 10:2002
Teeters with greatness, before collapsing, in the most fatuous and laughable finale to an alien invasion imaginable. It does a damn fine job of screwing up the film, which was possibly heading for the first A- grade in a long while. The set-up is magnificent, with crop circles leading to an alien invasion, with some of the spookiest fake TV footage I've ever seen - the Brazilian video gives me chills just thinking about it. On a smaller scale, Gibson plays a farmer and former preacher who gave up after his wife died in an accident; cue the expected ruminations on loss of faith. Despite a few cheap shocks, the film strikes a great balance between drama and thrills, with even a surprising amount of humour. It works very nicely, the tension building from small and innocuous events up to the first encounters and then onwards to the night of full-scale invasion. At this point, the film closes in on the farm-house, with the family trapped in ever-decreasing spaces by the ET's, though not until the final scene does anyone think to reach for a weapon - it must also be the only farmhouse in America without a gun. This pales into insignificance with the finale, however, which fails in a hugely spectacular way, and can only be the result of the writer letting a small child have access to his word-processor for an hour. At the risk of spoiling it - even if the script does that for me - I'll say no more than a cryptical, "Guess they came all that way and forgot to pack raincoats."


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