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Signs (2002)

  Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: Abigail Breslin, Rory Culkin, Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix
Links: Signs on the IMDb, Official site, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Sci-Fi

This movie gets: 4.50 (2 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 158th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Signs (2002) is also mentioned in pearly's review of The Village (2004) and andy-j's review of War of the Worlds (2005).

"Not exactly what I expected" - a review by andy-j

Mel Gibson plays Graham, a vicar who has recently hung up his ... vicar-guy robes after the death of his wife. He lives on a farm with his two children and his brother, Merrill. One day, large "crop circle" patterns mysteriously appear in his fields. What are they, where did they come from and what do they mean? This is only the beginning...

After The Sixth Sense (1999), I have a huge level of respect for M. Night Shyamalan. But Signs... well.. it's a bit different! In terms of the plot, I was expecting a lot more than what I got. The biggest surprise of this movie is that there really weren't any surprises. I was sort of hoping for something to happen that would change my whole perception of what was going on plot-wise, but it never came. Instead it was all rather straightforward. At one point, Merrill announces "It's like War of the Worlds", which is right on the money. There were a helluva lot of suspense and tension, one thing I thought this movie did superbly (watch out for the video footage at the children's birthday party. That's scary!), and part of that was generated by the promise of twists. But the suspense just sort of stretched over a kinda slow, not-too-exciting script.

At the same time though, I found that there were some underlying themes that gave me a bit of food for thought afterwards, and, upon reflection, I found these parts were very entertaining. There were lots of neat little touches, and it all tied in together nicely. For example, Bo (Graham's little girl) leaves half-empty glasses of water everywhere she goes, which has some significance to both the plot and the theme of co-incidences. Also, I found the emotional scenes were very well done indeed (as they were in The Sixth Sense), they were really quite touching and well-placed.

Even though I was disappointed by the plot (that's what happens when you go in expecting a movie to play out in a certain way), I have to say I still very much enjoyed Signs for the high level of suspense, the emotion, and the clever little extras. I think these aspects are more of what this movie is all about. I'd be happy to sit through it a second time knowing what is going to happen, so I could focus more on the peripheral bits that are constantly going on.

andy-j gives this movie 7 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 5 Sep 2002

"I can do a somersault" - a review by pearly

Sometimes, if you go into a movie with low expectations, it means you can be pleasantly surprised. But I don't care how low your expectations are when you see Signs - if you have any taste in movies, you will be disappointed.

Whilst watching this movie, I was so bored that I actually sat there and figured out what I could say in my review of it. The words that kept popping into my head were "absolutely mind-numbingly slow". It was just sooo drawn out and long - I am sure this was all intended to be suspenseful, but it wasn't, it was just awfully dull.

I hate movie reviews that contain spoilers. But I have such little respect for this film that I don't care about that rule - so this review will have some spoilers in it. If that bothers you, don't read on.

The movie centres around the mystery of crop circles. A family who have a huge cornfield discover these "signs" in their crops at the beginning of the movie. There's the father, Graham (Mel Gibson), his brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix), and Graham's two children. Graham's wife recently died in a car crash and Graham, who was a reverend, has since denounced his faith. But, through the events that follow the appearance of the crop circles, he realises that there are no coincidences, and his faith is restored.

Aside from the whole alien thing, that's pretty much it. I've talked a lot in my movie reviews about scripts having twists in the story just because it's the cool thing to do. And after The Sixth Sense (1999) and Unbreakable (2000), it looks like Mr Shyamalan decided to make this one twist-free. Which was probably a good idea - mix things up a bit. Except that the whole premise for this film is just awful.

I'm not against science-fiction at all (see my review of The What If Man: The Science Fictional Life of Peter Nicholls for more info about this), but the whole alien thing is just weak. I really was hoping that they'd be thinking it was aliens the whole way through, and then it wouldn't be aliens at all. But no luck.

And the "clever" sequence of coincidences is not clever at all. It's just a bunch of stuff that happens. Furthermore, being asthmatic, I refuse to believe that the kid (and I don't care how young he is) did not take his medication with him to the basement. He used it every five minutes for the rest of the movie, so the fact that it took him about an hour to realise he had forgotten it.. just dumb.

Sometimes, a bad movie can be redeemed by the performances of the actors. Not here. Mel Gibson is adequate, but I just couldn't believe his rants about faith - they just didn't sit right with me. Even Joaquin was just so-so. And another thing, Shyamalan pops up in not only a bit part, but with a speaking role! Stick to directing, please, Mr Hands-in-lots-of-pies. I must also mention the army sergeant (or whatever he was) - the worst acting I've seen in a long time. What was that scene even in the movie for anyway? It had nothing to do with anything. Yes, that's right. I'm so over this film that I feel it necessary to link to quotes from The Simpsons in order to stay interested in this review. I feel better now. Over and out.

pearly gives this movie 2 out of 10.
Review created on Thu 5 Sep 2002

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 4.50
Lowest rating: 2 (by pearly)
Highest rating: 7 (by andy-j)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

  1. This is a very entertaining and suspensful movie. Sure, the plot was predictable, but that's what was brilliant about it. The movie is titled Signs, and this gets you thinking about the crop circles that are "signs" for the aliens. But if you think that this is what the movie is about, you missed the point. The movie is really about all of the little "signs" that we receive in life. In this case, they are messages from God, or some higher power. This is a movie about faith, and the belief that everything happens for a reason. It makes you think.

    Rating given: 9

    A comment from Bob on Tue 06 Apr 2004 09:01 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 9.00 (1 rating)

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