Signs

235 ratings (216 Epinions reviews)
Epinions Product Rating: Very Good
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"Give Me A Sign(s)...Hit Me Baby One More Time

Jan 9, 2003
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Very Good

  • Action Factor:
  • Special Effects:
  • Suspense:

Pros:The humor.

Cons:Miscasting, typical tear-jerker moments

The Bottom Line: It's worth watching once on DVD. Do the rental thing.


Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

Preamble
It's official. I'm the last person in the world to see this movie. That's okay. Sometimes being the last means that you don't get sucked into the hype and therefore you're able to make a better decision on whether you liked the movie or not.

The Story
The Hess family - Graham (Mel Gibson), Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix), Morgan (Rory Culkin), Bo (Abigail Breslin) - live in a small farm town in Pennsylvania. One morning, Graham wakes up to find his two young children (Morgan and Bo), standing out in the cornfield. Sometime during the night, someone came in and made patterns in his cornfield. He's not very happy. Graham decides to call the sheriff's office and Officer Paski (Cherry Jones) makes her way over to investigate.

Convinced that it's a prank, Graham goes about his business. Never mind that one of the dogs went berserk, attacking one of the kids. Somebody stuck a fork in him (the dog), and he was done.

Over the next couple of days, there continues to be weird things happening to the Hess family. A bedroom window gets broken and upon investigation, Graham and his brother Merrill hear someone but never actually see them.

Flipping on the television the next day, all sorts of weird things are being reported from across the world. Graham isn't buying it but his family starts to get spooked.

Trying to keep his family away from any of the media hype. Graham takes his family into the city for a nice meal. As they are eating, they spot Ray Reddy (M. Night Shyamalan). Only glances are exchanged as we find out that the veternarian accidentally fell asleep at the wheel, killing Graham's wife, Colleen (Patricia Kalember).

Upon returing home, Graham realizes that there is a real threat and that he must take care of his family. Normally, he would turn to his faith to get him through but since the death of his wife, he has turned away both professionally (his Father designation) and personally.

The family takes cover as aliens invade.

Why are they here?
Do they take over the world?
Does Graham ever regain his faith?

All of these questions and more, can be answered if you watch the movie.

Yeh Yeah...What I Think
Where to begin. Let's start with the story.

I actually thought that the idea behind the story was neat. Writer M. Night Shyamalan picked something that is universally on the minds of many people no matter where they live, how old they are, or what religion they are affiliated with. Unfortunately, once he started unfolding his idea into a script, he resorted to a handful of cliched moments instead of stringing everything together into something more thought provoking.

If you're going to go down the "God" avenue then at least try to be original about it. I don't want to spoil anything so I won't mention specifics on what ticked me off. Let's just say that they involved Morgan. What that scene proved to me is that if you want something, pray, it'll happen thus your faith is restored.

My second complaint has to do with the casting. I'm not a huge Mel Gibson fan however, I will concede that he pulled off his role nicely. My main problem was with Joaquin Phoenix and M. Night Shyamalan. Never did I buy that Mel and Joaquin were brothers. The one of these things doesn't belong with the other started playing through my head the moment he entered a scene. I didn't think that Mel and Joaquin had any chemistry either. In some key moments between the two brothers, when we were supposed to get teary-eyed, I didn't feel anything.

Someone needs to tell Shyamalan that he's not an actor. His part in the movie, although small, was just bad.

My third complain is that at times, the music was all wrong. Yup. It set up the movie to feel like "scary" when it should have induced the feeling of "fear". Big difference.

The directing? Shyamalan pulled off his usual tricks of making sure that the lighting played a big part of the mood and that the camera angles were affixed in a way to keep an audience on edge. Superb? Nope. For him, just average.

Did I like anything? Sure I did. I thought that the humor injected into the movie was priceless. Seeing the kids and Merrill on the couch with alumnin foil on their heads was hilarious. Watching daughter Bo drink from a bazillion glass of water was funny. Seeing Mel acting uncool was cute. The little girl who played Bo was cute. The woman who played the sheriff's deputy was different. These were all charming things about the movie.

Signs is rated PG-13 for some "frightening" moments. It's definitely not a movie that I'd let my 8 year old watch. The alien scenes would probably give him nightmares.

DVD Features
I've been so spoiled by DVD extras lately that this seemed a little light to me.

The main special extra is the making of Signs. Although I enjoyed that piece, I almost wish that M. Night Shyamalan had merged it in with the film in the form of commentary. Sadly, there is no commentary for this film.

If you're familiar with Shyamalan then you know that he's a meticulous editor. There are five deleted scenes here. One, if it had been included, would have been too much of a clue into the final moments. Three were scenes that were included in the movie but were cut back significantly, and the last involved shots of Graham and his wife in happier times.

Other things you get are one of Shyamalan's early alien home movies and storyboard comparisons.


Recommend this product? Yes


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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