Our second M. Night Shyamalan film in the countdown
gets reviewed.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info

Mel Gibson as Graham

Joaquin Phoenix as Merrill

Rory Culkin as Morgan

Abigail Breslin as Bo

Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan

Complete information is available from the
IMDB
.

Buy from: Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca

Past movie reviews can be found here.

Premise

A rural family face off against an alien invasion.

High Point

The character focus. This isn’t about the aliens or
the fight, like
Independence Day was, this is about how
people react to that
invasion. Shyamalan gives us all sorts of
information about those
characters in the first five minutes. I don’t like
giving spoilers,
but this time, I feel I must. The next paragraph
will spoil the first
five minutes only.

The opening shot is of a playground in a backyard.
We know that we’re
looking at a family, and viewing it from a lofty
vantage point, which
probably means it’s the perspective of the head of
the family. The
camera then pulls back, revealing the poor quality
window we’re
looking through. This is a slightly distorted view
of reality, and
it’s shielded from the world. The character who has
this view is
somehow isolated, and has some incorrect ideas about
the world he or
she lives in. Then we cut to Mel Gibson waking up
alone in a large
bed, and checking on the kids rooms without opening
the doors. He
walks through the house, passing a spot where a cross
once hung on the
wall. He hears distant screams shortly thereafter,
and starts
running. When outside, we meet Merrill for the first
time. He’s
living over the garage, and not in the main house.
This is someone
who is close, but still a step removed from the rest
of the family, as
though he doesn’t quite fit. At this point, we know
a bit about the
relationship between these two characters, and we
know the lay of the
land immediately around the house. Then they start
running to track
down the screaming kids. The corn fields are
established. We meet Bo
for the first time, wandering around in the area. In
this very short
conversation, we learn that there are two children
(as he’s only
concerned about one more), and that Graham is the
head of the property
as well as family (as Merrill waits for Graham’s
actions, and takes
orders watching Bo while Graham takes action looking
for Morgan.)
Then we meet Morgan, who is looking at the crop
circles with the two
dogs. Morgan suggests that God did it, which implies
that Morgan
still maintains faith that his father lost (as the
cross likely would
have still been on the wall if Graham had his faith.)
Here’s our
family dynamic in five minutes. Graham is in charge,
the mother is
missing, Merrill is around to help, Bo is more
inclined to listen to
Morgan than Graham, and Graham and Morgan have some
disagreements
between them.

Low Point

The cameo made the significance of the little theory
way too obvious.

The Scores

I have to give originality credit for making
a monster movie
that’s not about the monsters. I give it 5 out of 6.

The effects are primarily implied. There
was some jerky
motion in the scene that starts with the reflection,
but the rest
looked very good. Unfortunately, that was the one
moment that really
gave us a good look at these things, and it really
needed to work. I
give it 4 out of 6.

The story is well assembled. The big
solution was lacking
subtlety, certainly. As for the complaints that it
wouldn’t work at
all, well, such physiologies are possible, although I
doubt that
they’d manage in our atmosphere without support gear.
Still, the
nature of the solution wasn’t the point. I give it 5
out of 6.

The acting was good from the adults. The
kids were stiff
even for child actors. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response is excellent. Yes,
most of us saw the
ending coming, but the events along the way still
work. I give it 6
out of 6.

The production was excellent. The pacing,
the photography,
and the mise-en-scene are all extremely well
executed. This is a very
well made movie. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a good thriller, with a twist
more obvious than
previous Shyamalan work. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Signs receives 35 out of 42.

Halloween Countdown to date