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M. Night Shyamalan's Signs is a thriller set in Bucks County, Pennsylvania focusing on the mysterious appearance of crop circles carved into a family farm. Mel Gibson stars as Graham Hess, the family patriarch and town reverend, whose faith is tested in a journey to find the truth behind the circles. Joaquin Phoenix is Merrill Hess, brother to Graham and a former minor league baseball star
Neil, Goodwood. 11 November 2002
M. Night Shyamalan, the writer, director and producer of Signs, has a somewhat unique approach to the normal run of the mill Hollywood why of making films. In all his movies thus far, he has had big name actors such as Bruce Willis in both Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, and now Mel Gibson in Signs. But despite these high caliber stars, his movies have all had a very unstated and a sedate feel to them.
The public in general has responded very well to Shyamalan film making style. All his movies have been great successes and so far Signs has made over $ 200 million dollars in the US Box office alone. This is quite amazing if you watch Signs and take in what kind of movie it is. There are no of very few special effects, no gunfights,car chases or things being blown to small pieces in fiery explosions. No what you get is a story of a preacher (Mel Gibson) who has lost his faith, living with his two small children on a maize farm along with his younger brother (Joaquin Phoenix).
The movie starts with the discovery of mysterious crop circles on the ex-preachers farm. Are these circles the work of creative vandals with to much time on their hands, or is some other force at work? As the movie moves along the story is told mostly from the limited perspective of these farm people with little access to the outside world, other than what they see and hear on their television screen. And then there are the other noises and strange happenings at night on the farm itself.
Although the movie isn’t bad, I seem to have a problem with M. Night Shyamalan work in general. I never really liked Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and now Signs as well. Perhaps it’s just me, but there are just too many inconsistencies in Signs for it to make any sense. I won’t go into detail about what they are here, but you will probably also be puzzled after you’ve seen the movie.
I would say if you’ve liked M. Night Shyamalan other movies, then you would probably enjoy Signs. If you haven’t then be prepared to be disappointed. 6 / 10
Steve, . 26 March 2003
A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes
In SIGNS, Mel Gibson plays an ex-priest who gets in touch again with his spirituality through something akin to a WAR OF THE WORLDS encounter. It's an intense and intelligent horror picture by writer/director M. Night Shyamalan (THE SIXTH SENSE and UNBREAKABLE). If you have trouble sleeping later, don't say that I didn't warn you. It certainly affected my teenage son, who, nevertheless, really liked the film.
The story is set in the corn fields of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, where Graham Hess (Gibson) lives with his two young kids, Morgan and Bo (Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin). Since his wife died six months ago, Graham has given up on religion. Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix, GLADIATOR), his younger brother, has been staying with them in their remote farmhouse.
Graham is a strong disbeliever. "I'm not wasting one more minute of my life on prayer," he proclaims at a time when he most needs help. Merrill is an ex too, an ex-ballplayer. After setting records in the minor leagues, including five for home runs and some for strike outs, he has taken to making a living at the local gas station.
As the movie starts, the kids have gotten lost in the cornfields, where they discover a large sign made by someone or something. Although Merrill tries to convince them that the signs were made by a bunch of nerds in some sort of scam, his explanation becomes harder to believe when similar signs are found to have been made simultaneously in fields around the world. Meanwhile, the animals are going crazy as if they are attacking some unseen predators.
The movie too often falls back on old tricks. When it is obvious that something is out there, Graham, nevertheless, ventures into the field one dark night, armed only with a flashlight. As the audience whispers to themselves, "Don't go there!" Graham goes deeper and deeper into the abyss. Think he'll drop the flashlight? Of course. We've seen this scene a thousand times before, but Gibson does a fine job of trying, without much luck, to make it feel fresh.
After answering a simple, "Yes," to whether this could be the end of the world, Graham makes the key observation of the story. "Is it possible that there are no coincidences?" he asks Merrill rhetorically. And it is no coincidence that a picture by Shyamalan will produce the same reaction on the audience that these paranormal events produce on Morgan. An asthmatic, Morgan finds himself frequently having trouble breathing. Bring your inhaler.
SIGNS runs 1:46. It is rated PG-13 for "some frightening moments" and would be acceptable for teenagers.
My son Jeffrey, age 13, gave it *** 1/2. He thought that it was really well-written and thought through. He found it both freaky and realistic. Although he loved it, he said that he never wanted to see it again.
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