Wednesday, August 30, 2006

"Signs" review

Signs (2002)

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Writing credits M. Night Shyamalan

Mel Gibson.... Rev. Graham Hess
Joaquin Phoenix.... Merrill Hess
Rory Culkin.... Morgan Hess

Mel Gibson has a farm, two dogs, two kids and some funky alien crop circles. Gibson doesn't know what to make of it. Soon it becomes apparent that aliens are checking out the Earth. Why? What does it all mean? Can you see the signs for what they are or are you a heathen non-believer? Ever since his wife died, Gibson has lost his faith in God. Perhaps an alien invasion can help him get it back.

The most amazing thing about "Signs" is how tightly directed it is. There is nothing spontaneous about this flick. Every scene is directed by a guy who knew exactly what he wanted to see. Everything must have been planned a long time beforehand: Where he wanted the camera, what he wanted the actors to do and say, the facial expression they should portray and how long they should keep it. Everything was exactly where it should be. This is definitely Shyamalan's film. Every other person involved in this flick was there to do his bidding. He deserves the praise or the blame.

Which to give him? "Signs" is a very well made, suspenseful flick. Top notch direction. I praise him for that. But "Signs" begs a lot of questions. Is the movie saying that every little thing that happens to us is a sign? Does God always have benevolent designs for us? Do people die so that others may live through an alien invasion? "Signs" is making a loud argument for faith in God. It's an old tale in which we are supposed to draw comfort from our sorrow because God let it happen and knows what's best for us. Everything happened "for a reason". Have faith in God because He is watching over you and throwing signs in your face. Are you paying attention or are you a deaf, dumb and blind heathen? Got Faith?

More questions than answers or just a simple alien invasion flick? I suppose you could take it either way. Overall, I enjoyed it. I just don't know if I can believe in the message of "Signs". It's preaching in its own low tech, sci-fi way. I believe in God but I don't think every little thing that happens to me is a sign from above or even meant to be a part in God's cosmic plan. When I stub my toe, God isn't telling me to watch out for a wall six months down the road. Sometimes we humans do stupid things. I'm sure God's got a handle on the big picture and leaves the details to us.

SCORE: 3 out of 4 signs from above

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