Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Movie Review: "Signs" (2002)

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Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Year: 2002
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

When a crop circle appears in Graham Hess' (Mel Gibson) cornfield, he first writes it off as a hoax, but as more crop circles appear in many places all over the world overnight, people start to believe they are the real deal, and a message from aliens.

Not all movies directed by M. Night Shyamalan are bad. In fact, at one point, he had a pretty prestigious career. His first few films came out with a bang, and over the years, he has dropped off significantly in popularity because of his awful last few films. While some might disagree with us, we really like his movie "Signs," where he offers his take on an alien invasion. Mel "Sugar Tits" Gibson plays Graham Hess, a former minister who lost his faith when his wife was killed after being hit by a car while on her walk when the driver fell asleep at the wheel. Joaquin Phoenix plays Graham's brother Merrill, a former minor league baseball player who has since been helping Graham with his two kids Morgan, played by Rory Culkin, and Bo, played by Abigail Breslen.

Though this is, in a way, an alien invasion film, it still has a strong focus on Shyamalan's favorite subjects of faith and destiny. This time, there is a primary focus on the Hess family and their personal struggles with these issues. Since "The Sixth Sense," Shyamalan has had a habit of casting himself in his own movies as if he were striving to be the next Orson Wells. Unfortunately for him, he doesn't have the acting ability to do it in a non-distracting manner. Up until this point, Shyamalan had played rather insignificant roles in his movie, such as one-scene doctors or passers by, but in "Signs," he has a far more significant part and is probably the least successful and convincing character in the movie. The rest of the cast are fine in their parts, and no matter what you think of him personally, no one can deny the acting ability of Mel Gibson at this point in time. Of course, Joaquin Phoenix is very talented and one of our favorites, so we like him as the former baseball player turned jaded babysitter. This is also the film debut of Abigail Breslen, who is adorable in her part of a little girl with a weird quirk about her drinking water, something I can personally identify with...what? I'm not drinking contaminated water!! She and her brother Morgan obviously have a close relationship since she follows him everywhere, but like most brothers and sisters, they do fight and argue from time to time, though they seem to get closer once it is apparent that aliens are bound for Earth. With a strong beginning, this movie really plays on the "what if" factor as far as aliens are concerned.

Though the aliens were probably appealing for their time, the graphics displayed here are now very outdated and look super phony, but overall, this film is quite enjoyable. As expected, there is a signature Shyamalan "twist," if you can call it that, but in retrospect and when watching his other movies in succession, the one presented in "Signs" is rather weak and contrived. The rest of the film has a lot to offer in the way of thrills and suspense and it is still fun to watch from time to time. For us, we are willing to overlook the aforementioned flaws in order to re-watch Mel Gibson's flawless fake crying.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 74%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Nashville"

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