By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com November 11, 2011 at 9:41AM
Of the many, many problems of the recent output of M. Night Shyamalan, perhaps first among them is that he's simply not as good a writer as he is a director. He handles the early parts of "Signs" with a disciplined tautness worthy of Spielberg, but throws it away on a teeth-grittingly nonsensical "God has a plan" ending. He writes himself into "Lady in the Water" as a soon-to-be-martyred author whose work will eventually lead to world peace. He printed out "The Happening" and sent it to his agent, rather than putting it in a box, setting fire to the box, taking the ashes and putting them in a lead-sealed concrete vault a mile underground, as he should have done.
But after three critically-savaged films in a row, he finally seems to be getting the message. His next film, the apocalyptic sci-fi film "One Thousand A.E.," is based on a script by "The Book of Eli" writer Gary Whitta, and while Shyamalan took a swing at a draft, he's brought in a more well-regarded screenwriter to give his work a final polish.
Variety report that Stephen Gaghan, who won an Oscar a decade ago for his script for Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic," was hired for, and has now completed, a rewrite of "One Thousand A.E," and may continue to work on the project as it heads towards production. Gaghan's been mostly quiet since his strong directorial debut "Syriana" in 2005, working on a string of projects that never got green-lit, but there's been a surge of activity recently, with two potential follow-ups to that film circling -- "The Snakehead," about an Asian grandmother in New York who becomes involved in human trafficking, and an untitled thriller about a wiretap operation against a drugs cartel.
As for "One Thousand A.E," it stars Will Smith and his son, "The Karate Kid" star Jaden Smith, as a father and son who land on Earth a milllenium after it's been abandoned by humanity, and forced to battle against the elements when the father is injured. Gaghan's presence is the first optimistic sign on the project; hopefully he'll be able to curb some of Shyamalan's worst instincts and return him to his best form. Filming starts in February, so we'll see how it turns out when Sony release "One Thousand A.E." on June 7, 2013.