Leave it to M. Night Shyamalan to take our expectations for a movie, turn them upside down, and still deliver a work surpassing anything we'd dared hope for.With `The Sixth Sense' and `Unbreakable' the young director so immersed us in threatening, supernatural realities that we would follow him anywhere. When all roads led to remarkable twist endings, we loved him even more.It's with high expectations, then, that audiences greet his new sci-fi thriller `Signs.' And Shyamalan waltzes into the picture clearly aware of what's expected. He knows we're on to his <more>
trickery and will spot his clever little ending a mile away, and that knowledge assures that we won't.Shyamalan also uses the ongoing allure of UFOs and space aliens to sell a film that, ultimately, has little to do with either one.Despite the inescapable background noise, the movie is really about the emotional and spiritual journey of a rural widower named Graham Hess Mel Gibson . Formerly a reverend, he gave up his church after the death of his wife.When we meet him, his days are spent tending a large farm with his brother, Merrill Joaquin Phoenix , and children Morgan Rory Culkin and Bo Abigail Breslin . It's a simple life that's turned upside down when strange crop circles show up in his field. At first, Graham is convinced it's a prank, but then they begin to appear around the world, and the possibility of alien life - perhaps even an invasion - looks realistic.As the film runs its paces, it riffs on a number of themes more important than the crop circles themselves, but Shyamalan is smart enough to know he has to hang his hat on something. With that in mind, he hides his real issues within a first-class, neoclassical thriller. That means the scares come not from splashy, grotesque special effects but tight editing and suspenseful storytelling.From the opening frames, Shyamalan creates an atmosphere so eerie and tense that one literally feels tired by the time the film ends. But it's a good tired, the type that comes after working on something worthwhile and being aptly rewarded for the effort.It's safe to say nobody else could have directed this movie. The unique perspective is purely that of Shyamalan, who wrote, produced and directed.At one turn the film feels campy, at the next desperately serious, but Shyamalan has somehow melded the diversities into a whole that plays like real life. Since that's what most people look for at the movies, the payoff is big.Shyamalan also demonstrates an expert ability to build tension, break it with comic relief, then rebuild it. It helps that he has veterans like Gibson and Phoenix delivering the lines, but one gets the feeling this movie would have been great even without the megastars. I'm glad they signed on, though, because their names assure a big-time audience, and this is the type of film that deserves one.
Most of the people that comment on this movie are going to relate the fact that they were disappointed. And that's okay- your opinion of a movie should always include your pre-showing as well as post-showing emotions. But to those people I just have to say, "You just don't get it." Everyone is going into this movie thinking it is some kind of chilling horror, or blood-and-gore slasher flick. Shyamalan doesn't do those tired genres, thankfully. Instead, he gives us a warm, funny, emotionally-charged, and yes, suspenseful thriller which manages to compact an entire list of <more>
genres into one whole film.I have seen the movie twice already- the first time for myself, and the second time just for crowd reactions. I wasn't bored through either showing. This is in part to some great acting by Phoenix, and some PHENOMENAL acting by the two child leads! Gibson isn't too bad either, but I have to admit, his part could have been played by anyone sorry Mel : I think for the first time Shyamalan really brings us a film that doesn't rely on smoke and mirrors to please the audience. For all those naysayers out there, I would suggest that you view the film again, either now, or when it is available for home use. Look- and listen closer. You might just be able to make out the 'Signs.'
In last week's issue of Newsweek, M. Night Shyamalan is quoted as saying to his accomplices in crime, "If I did 'Pokemon 5,' would you come? Come on! I could turn it into a metaphor for the human condition!" The scary thing about that comment is not only that he probably *could* do it if afforded the opportunity, but also that he pulls off a similar trick in "Signs," which from an artistic standpoint is easily the best film he's ever done.The greater picture of the film is the crop signs that suddenly and quickly start appearing worldwide - and the question <more>
of whether they mean anything for mankind as a whole. But once the greater picture is laid out in the first twenty minutes, it takes a complete backseat to Shyamalan's happy & pained family of four, and focuses on their feelings, their worries, their doubts; as the horror of what's transpiring in the greater picture creeps closer to them.When Merrill says, "It's like War of the Worlds," it's NOT hyperbole, even though we never see what transpires in the greater picture. Instead, Shyamalan focuses on the subtle nuances of the fear of the individual. Instead of seeing hundreds of soldiers fighting in hand-to-hand combat with gigantic bugs, we gain an appreciation of what it's like for those who aren't blessed with such courage - or, in Graham Hess' case, being able to find it again.This is the first horror movie I've ever seen that both genuinely scared me - because you sympathize with the family's plight, even without seeing it - and made me laugh at the same time, because the family's reaction to the terror unfolding in the world is a sign itself of a strength that most don't have - the ability to be levelheaded and always keep things in perspective, no matter how scary or "out-there" the situation is.As usual, Shyamalan gets excellent performances out of all of his actors, especially Willis & Breslin as Graham & Bo. As usual, everything you see means something - the trick, like with "Sixth Sense" & "Unbreakable, is whether or not you can put them all together. I'd be shocked, though, if this film doesn't get nominated for its sound - the soundtrack is Hitchcockian-creepy, and Shyamalan is a master at using sound effects to create the terror that the visual effects normally do.Don't go to "Signs" expecting a monster movie, or a shock ending, but definitely see it before the summer's out, and be prepared to be moved in ways that you previously couldn't have imagined from a horror or suspense film. It's been said that a genius of film is one who knows how to transcend or reinvent a genre - and with this film, M. Night Shyamalan is decidedly on his way there, if he hasn't already reached it. 10/10
I don't think this film deserved the poor reviews that some gave it. I've only seen 3 of Night Shylaman's films 6th Sense, Unbreakable and this one is the most sophisticated in my mind in terms of the director manipulating the viewers into seeing and believing what he wants you to believe.This is not Gibson's worst film by any means. If anything he gets to try to portray an understated, confused, and emotionally scarred character and I think he soft-sells it very well. Joaquin Phoenix also has a similar character to play and he too soft-sells it well. That was probably not <more>
an accident as their calm, sullen personalities contrast with the unbearable situation they find themselves in.If you haven't already, see it - and keep an open mind.
One of the best movies of 2002 so far (by l_a_t_e_r_a_l_u_s)
A scary-looking monster is not needed in this movie. Just simply the fear of the unknown is enough. But just in case that's not enough for YOU, you will also get creepy sounds & very frightening situations. I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that some of the stuff that is on the news on the TV in the movie is some of the scariest material in the movie. While all the things on the news in this movie are pretty freaky, there is one news clip in particular that I think really scared mostly everyone maybe everyone in the audience. So basically, don't go to this <more>
movie expecting to see a bunch of man-killing freaky-looking aliens. If you want something like that, rent "Alien".All of the actors in this movie do a terrific job. The kids were great, which was unexpected for me. And as for the director...well, M. Night Shyamalan is a genius. He is the Alfred Hithcock of our time note that he is nowhere as even remotely great as Hitchcock, I was just saying for our time . And he is now one of my favorite directors. With "The Sixth Sense" and "Signs", he manages to make movies that can truly terrify the audience, and he doesn't use blood & gore, he uses suspense and just simple horror. They are both only rated PG-13, and are both real crowd-scarers, which tells you this guy is really something.To sum it up: This is one of VERY VERY few movies that had me laughing out loud one minute, and then jumping out of my seat in shock the next. Lots of laughs, great acting, awesome directing, truly terrifying material, shock value, all the suspense you can handle and then some, what more do you want from a movie? Little kids saying the darndest things? Excellent character build-up? Drama? Well you get all of those too. "Signs" is one of the best movies of 2002 so far.
"Is it possible there are no coincidences?" (by Derek237)
There are plenty of movies that use the idea of aliens invading and attacking earth. Some are good, some are incredibly bad. Signs uses that concept but follows through on it in a way I've never seen before. Instead of showing a bunch of stories like what the president is doing about this, the army fighting the aliens, and showing hundreds of people running and screaming, this movie shows how most people would probably be experiencing this: at home, anxiously watching the news for information. There are plenty of suspenseful scenes that are scary not because of what you see, but because <more>
of what you don't see, and what you are afraid to see.Many people love this movie for doing this, others hate it for it. If you're a fan of movies full of alien carnage with creatures biting the heads off people and blowing up cities, Signs may not be for you. But like all of M. Night's films, it still makes a pretty good movie without the main concept. It's actually a pretty touching story about family, faith, and the possibility that there are no coincidences and there is a reason behind everything. That's what makes this movie worth watching over.My rating: 9/10
If you went to this movie expecting a typical sci-fi thriller, you doubtless left disappointed. If you went to this movie to see an M. Shamalayan Night film, you probably loved it, as I did.For me, the sci-fi aspects were a device to explore the lost faith of the Mel Gibson character, a man who had abandoned the ministry after a tragedy struck his family. The film asks the questions, are we alone in the world and he's not talking about aliens and is there such a thing as a coincidence? In one particularly striking scene, as he talks with his brother, Gibson's bitterness comes <more>
through.I happen to think there's a place for spirituality in film and I love Night's take on it. I also like his old-fashioned type of film-making, the way he pays hommage to the greats and the way he surprises us. Night believes we don't listen enough, and if we do, there are messages abounding for us. I'd rather see this than a pretentious, dark, depressing film that pretends to say something.
After the abysmal and overrated Sixth Sense and the even worse Unbreakable I wasn't expecting much of this movie, but it seems I was too quick to judge. Signs is a movie which I found actually scary. From the first moment in the crop fields right to the end when Gibson's character 'sees the sign' provided by his wife it had me glued to my seat. The actors were very good as well, and Night saves me the typo's : shows he does know how to build a scene. In short: a very well done film. 8/10.
Seeing The Small Picture (by bkoganbing)
During the course of the film Joaquin Phoenix's character remarks that the situation they're in seems like The War Of The Worlds. It certainly is, but the small picture of it.Whereas H.G. Wells wrote on the grand scale about what nations and governments were doing to fight an alien invasion, M. Night Shyamalan's Signs concerns itself with the small picture, what is happening in one tiny corner of the world, to be precise Bucks County, Pennsylvania and very specifically Mel Gibson and his family.One day farmer Gibson who used to be a minister woke up and found that his cornfield <more>
had been systematically decimated and a precise geographical pattern was laid out that could be seen from the air. He concluded it was some kind of prank which would have been the normal reaction of anyone. But when reports of the world wide similar crop defilings and then sitings of shadowy alien figures than the world is in a crisis mode.But the world is on the back-burner for Gibson. He was a clergyman but gave it up after the death of his wife who was hit by a drunk driver. He's got his own issues to deal with if he can get himself, his children Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin and brother Joaquin Phoenix through the ordeal. All this without knowing how the world in general is coping. Gibson and the family can only speculate and that's where imaginations run wild.I have to say that Mel Gibson does a thoroughly good job as an everyman caught up in a global crisis. When War Of The Words was made by George Pal in the Fifties, the leads Gene Barry and Ann Robinson were scientists who had vital information for the survival of the world. The globe is still at risk in Signs, but Mel and his family can't worry about that, just in keeping themselves alive.Signs is thinking science fiction ranking up there with the best work of Ray Bradbury and John Heinlein. It's both entertaining and engrossing, you can't ask for more from a film.