Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

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Movie review

Spooky 'Village' is worth a visit

Published August 2, 2004

Billy Norris
Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

MOVIE: The Village


SUMMARY: A small, quaint Pennsylvania village shares its borders with a forbidden forest in which violent and menacing creatures live. These creatures have an unspoken truce with the people of the village, but the fidelity of this truce may be in jeopardy. A young and fearless inhabitant named Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix) seeks permission from village elders to pass through the forest and collect necessary medical supplies from the neighboring town. But the elders do not want to risk the safety of the people. Threatening signs begin to emerge, hinting that a rebellious villager may already have breached the border. The village is in trouble, as the creatures have ordered an evacuation from the land to avoid deadly consequences.

MY VIEW: M. Night Shyamalan's approach to filmmaking is unique and intelligent. His previous three releases, The Sixth Sense (1999), Unbreakable (2000) and Signs (2002), have set amazing new standards for horror/thriller films. The Village, his new film, has some of the matchless qualities of its predecessors. However, it lacks a bit of their bone-chillingly frightening nature. It partly abandons Shyamalan's trademark scare tactics and sacrifices them for a bland love story with a fairly creepy twist. Lucius' love interest, Ivy Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard), is distinctively portrayed, but it is disappointing to see that Shyamalan has succumbed to the Hollywood trend of "every movie needs a little bit of love." The plot is sharp - a wonderful cache of twists and turns that, though sometimes easy to foresee, for the most part kept me guessing. This one is a mixed bag - definitely not Shyamalan's first-rate work, but undoubtedly better than anything else of this genre since Signs.

RECOMMENDATIONS: This film is absolutely worth seeing, but if you have paid attention to all the hype, don't be surprised when you are a tad let down.


Billy Norris, 16, will be in 11th grade at Seminole High, and is a former member of the X-Team.

[Last modified July 30, 2004, 14:13:14]

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