on 23 August 2003
This is a great film with an underlying subtle power.
If you like the 2 previous M Night Shyamalan films, then you won't be disappointed.
I think the director continues with the idea of confusing the audience with the narrative - 6th Sense is not about the boy but about the psychiatrist, Unbreakable is not a medical story but about a superhero, and Signs is not about aliens but about family and faith.
I especially like the director cameo, when we first see him, the audience is asking "Is that...?" when the characters are saying the same thing.
'M.Night Shyamalan' does write some unusal material, 'Signs' being no exception.
In this film a series of 'crop-circles' begin to alarm people, when sightings are filmed of strange beings along with 'lights' from U.F.O's
Craft hang over the sky's it becomes increasinly apparent an alien invasion is on the way ?
The film follows one family's expierience of events, former priest 'Graham Hess' along with his two children, 'Morgan and 'Bo' and brother.'Merrill'
As events and sightings around them become more intense they try to shut out what's happening around them, trouble is the threat
gets a whole lot closer.
'Mel Gibson' and 'Joaqin Phoenix' lead the cast list.
i myself enjoyed the film on each of the now three occasions i've seen it, starting at the cinema when first released.
the 'blu-ray' picture and sound quality is good.
on 22 December 2013
This is a film that's become popular to hate these days, especially on the internet and while I think it probably does have one or two flaws, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. It has some great atmosphere, tense moments, a great score and it creates a dark tone, which I love. The blu-ray transfer is really good as it has some great picture quality. I would give the film an 9/10.
Signs is written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. It stars Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin and Cherry Jones. Music is scored by James Newton Howard and cinematography by Tak Fujimoto.
Still reeling from the death of his wife, former man of the cloth Graham Hess (Gibson) lives and works on his farm with his two young children and younger brother. When the family awakes one morning to find a huge crop circle in their plantation, it is asked if it's a prank or the sign of alien contact?
I don't know if M. Night Shyamalan discouraged the marketing of Signs? Where evidence very much pointed to it being an alien invasion movie for all the family to enjoy? But Signs is anything but a family alien invasion movie. The trailers were deliberately vague, there was a mystery element hanging over the picture and with the Shyamalan CV already boasting the phenomenally successful The Sixth Sense and the divisive, but very moody, Unbreakable, hopes were pitched somewhere between excited and intrigued. Gibson on board, and Phoenix as well, good selling points without a doubt. However, Signs is a grower, a film that pays better dividends on further viewings once armed with the knowledge of what sort of theme drives it on. Yet it still frustrates greatly and you can see why it proved so divisive.
Shyamalan's movie is primarily about faith, the loss of such, the alien visitors are merely a component of this theme, they act as the catalyst that takes Graham to the pinnacle of his voyage of discovery. The meditations on faith and grief are subtle initially but they drive the picture forward, but then Manoj Shyamalan slips into sermonizing and his picture strives for a huge ending to justify it, which unfortunately never arrives, this after having been tickled and baited by the mystery of what the aliens want, friend or foe? Questions leap out such as will the Hess family come through this latest crisis in one piece? And will this "invasion" marry up with the director's thematics that he is so keen for us to open our hearts to? The answers to these questions are mixed, and take further viewings to digest fully. That is if you can forgive the downright idiocy of the alien visitors in the first place?
The last third has killed the film for many, which is a shame given the excellence on offer in the first hour. Shyamalan's camera is wonderfully fluid, his mise en scène is ace and he garners wonderfully low-key performances from his cast. While as much as his critics hate to acknowledge it, the director has a brilliant knack for building suspense, the ability to draw the viewer into his world, playing on our basic inquisitive nature. That he hasn't delivered on his promise, both here with the finale to the film and later in his overall directing career (though this writer personally loves The Village), is hard to argue against, but there is major talent there buried in his egocentric/confused make up. Elsewhere, James Newton Howard's score is channelling Herrmann and Fujimoto's photography is sublime, this really is a beautiful movie to look at.
Definitely not a family film, and not really an alien invasion film, with it showcasing both the good and bad aspects of its director. Yet still compelling and pretty enough to warrant a second viewing me thinks. 7/10
on 12 May 2003
Despite some weaknesses in the story such as an intelligent galaxy crossing aliens inability to penetrate a pantry door, the film is generally entertaining though far fewer spine tingles than The Sixth Sense.
The children do as well an acting job as the adults and the occassional humor, especially those tin foil helmets are great.
There is NO big twist ending here and only a fair pay off to the "swing" setup but in all worth renting and watching in the dark.
Get a pair of fake alien claws and give the one you're snuggling with a heart attack.
on 26 September 2007
With M. Night Shyamalan's third major studio release as director, he once again proves that he may just be heir to the Hitchcock throne of suspense. Do not think I am comparing him to the level of Hitchcock as a film maker, because Shyamalan still has a long way to go to achieve that goal. However, of the film makers today you'd be hard pressed to find a director who could produce such a suspenseful film on such minimalist methods.
Hollywood's mentality has long been the bigger the explosion the bigger the return, and in an age of special effects and showing off what they can do on the computer (take note, George Lucas), Shyamalan bypasses all that and harkens back to a time when the most important thing was the story. Shyamalan constructs the film around the history and idiosyncracies of the family using everyday things such as half-filled glasses, a baby monitor, and other like things. When Spielberg directed Jaws, he learned that by not showing the shark that much made the film much more effective. In a time when we have the specials effects to envision anything you could possibly dream, this film aptly illustrates that just because you have the technology it doesn't mean you have to use it to tell a good story. The old adage of "less is more" fits wonderfully here. A wonderful example that incorporates technology without sacrificing the story or characters is Minority Report.
What is so remarkable about Signs' plot? It's the fact that the characters exist in their own right and never feel like just plot devices or mouthpieces. Mel Gibson plays an apostate preacher suddenly has to handle the fact that crop circles are appearing in his corn field. Simultaneously, all across the globe crop circles are, shall we say, cropping up. His children (Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin) and his brother (Joaquin Phoenix from Gladiator) begin believing in the aliens, and try as he might Gibson's character realizes that these crop circles won't just go away. The movie then moves to the question is are these alien formations, and if so what are they used for? If there are aliens, are they hostile or not? What do they want with Earth?
Because Shyamalan always makes sure the Gibson's character and his family are in the forefront, the viewer becomes involved with them as individual characters to the point where the aliens are more events anything else. More and more scripts have characters taking backseat to the special effects and this is sapping the film industry of vitality. In Signs, when Morgan (the son) has his asthma attack during an assault on the house, we are much more concerned with what effect it would have on the family if they lost him, instead of it being some cheap and lowbrow ploy that is more of a plot device than a character study (Panic Room anyone?).
One of the key themes in Signs is faith. This film deals with the anger that Gibson's character feels toward God and how he must work through that throughout life's circumstances. Shyamalan's character (yes, he acts) is responsible for Gibson losing his faith. The film traces Gibson's progression of losing his faith and then struggling with God over losing his wife. This is illustrated ingeniously in the film's climax.
While my faith in God hasn't left me, my faith in Hollywood has long since evaporated. With directors such as Shyamalan still on the go-around, I find it getting a little stronger everyday.
August 28, 2002
on 16 May 2004
I'd like to talk about the credibility of the aliens. This film leaves much of it to the imagination and focuses on the characters and atmosphere (and since this is an American film, I'm very pleased, coz most Hollywood film makers think ambience is a French perfume and atmosphere is a thing that belongs in a restaurant)and it overall is the same approach as the Brit TV series Dr.Who. As a Dr.Who nut I can use my imagination and with SIGNS you need to use your imagination as you see little of the aliens. I notice the aliens are naked and that their weapon is a gas which sprays from part of their body, so their are naturally deadly like snakes, not creatures who develop technological weapons as we do. Very different. This explains the lack of armor, they probably have thick hide like Alligators (they ARE green!) and the whole thing with water...they are probably hurt by something in Earth's water that is unique to our planet and did not expect this! (Note the Middle East people are the first to discover the "ancient method" of defeating the aliens? This is probably a reference to sprinkling Holy water to ward off demons!)Their purpose is a "raid" to snatch humans swiftly and by stealth, not an all-out invasion. Their ships are certainly advanced, but they may not be anything like we would build, perhaps composed of light or energy or some such to enable them to travel at speeds which metal could not attain. Who knows? And that's the key to this movie, by keeping it enigmatic, the aliens retain credibility if you se your imagination. Why could they not open wooden doors? If they rely on their bodily venomous gas rather than developing "tools" and "weapons" as we have done, then our artificial world would prove a problem for them. They seem to be at remote spots to snatch humans, not trying to stomp cities flat. Overall, I found the aliens in this film well-concieved and very different to the usual Hollywood tentacle-waving types (ala Independence Day). I thought the massive coincidences and proof of everything having a purpose at the end, to restore Gibson's faith, was a bit much to swallow at first, but then again, it's just his way of interpreting what's happened, it's not as if it's being stated as solid fact. All it means is that Gibson has decided to see everything in life as having meaning and purpose again. Overall, a brilliant movie if you use your imagination and think about it, rather than just wanting a typical American SFX fest. The humor was a bit distracting, but it was a great night at the movies and great to rewatch at home!
on 8 January 2011
If you find crop circles thought provoking, love the idea that other worldy creatures may be out there and enjoy watching Mel Gibson & Joaquin Phoenix - then you will love this movie, just like I do. It's a great film.
on 13 March 2014
I remember this movie actually frightened me when I saw it first, The aliens were freaky at the start because you could only see bits of them and it really sent chills all the way up my back and over my arms.
There are some really good moments that stand out for me that involve the corn field, just like in ET you know something is running around in there, you can hear it but you cant see it. That's scary and memorable I think, like the footage of the birthday party I really got caught up with that still image. It just felt very real which adds to the feeling of the whole movie.
All the cast were fantastic and a joy to watch. This movie really isolated the family and even though they are in the middle of an open area you really appreciate how cornered they become. The ending had me scratching my head a bit. I thought was a bit off for me but it didn't ruin the movie for me, just thought it wasn't very realistic, are these aliens just stupid for picking this planet or what? Plus they looked a bit over SGI'd at the last scene.
The music at the start and finish credits is brilliant and really gives you a jolt.
I really enjoyed this movie, there are so many good moments in it, funny, scary and touches on mother and daughter sharing the gift of forsight. So if you believe in aliens or not I would suggest giving this movie a go, its a fun ride of giggles and chills.
on 19 September 2003
This film has got to be up there with Halloween and The Haunting as a genuinely creepy film which has the power to make you jump out of your seat and make the pulse start racing. It's an example of a grown up thriller/horror genre movie which does not need to rely on goo and gore to shock, which can turn many a movie into a laugh riot. This aspect makes Signs intensely watchable. However, after seeing the film for the first time, I had the feeling that I had seen it all before. The idea of a family being boarded up inside a house, hiding from monsters outside has been done I don't know how many times, for example in The Birds and Night of the Living Dead. In this sense the film was a little predictable. Because the film contained a number of laughs, I was not quite sure whether Shyamalan was trying to say something serious about regaining lost faith or whether he was just trying to, in laymans terms, take the mick, particularly out of programmes like The X Files and the beliefs that some hold about aliens. There appeared in short, to be a slightly mocking tone present throughout. The family's 'last supper' scene is a great example of this. As a final point, the idea of regaining lost faith is an interesting one to explore, but in this context, ie something which is pure science fiction and fantasy and often forms the basis of uninspired children's programmes and cult viewing. I feel it became slightly ridiculous.