Thursday, August 16, 2007

Signs (2004 on DVD)

Signs is a sci-fi thriller about a family who discovers ominous crop circles in their fields. It's written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, who was brilliant in The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and The Village.

Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) is a reverend who lost his belief in God after his wife was killed in a tragic car accident. His brother, Merrill Hess(Joaquin Phoenix), thinks the circles are simply a hoax whereas Graham's children, played by Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin, are convinced that aliens have finally reached Earth and they may not be friendly.

This hypothesis is supported by newscasts which indicate that crop circles are popping up all over the world, and actual aliens are caught on film.

The movie revolves around the family's struggle to barricade themselves from a potentially hostile force, but the larger picture has to do with religion, faith and spirituality. What do we believe in? Is there a higher power that will protect us? Is there a purpose to death and can those who've lost their belief in God regain it?

If this sounds like a movie with a lot of depth, it's not. It's slow-moving and the acting is quite wooden from everyone except for scene stealer Abigail Breslin who wooed the film world in Little Miss Sunshine two years later. Gibson, ordinarily above average, gives a completely emotionless performance and Phoenix is, at best, subdued. Culkin is cute but slightly annoying.

Moreover, the plot itself has huge holes in it. Gibson and Phoenix are brothers although in real life there are at least 18 years between them. Depictions of the aliens are so ridiculous that they seem juvenile and their Achilles heel, which I won't mention here as a spoiler, is so absurd as to be laughable.

The truth IS out there but you won't find it in Signs; if you're truly interested in extraterrestrial life, rent Contact with Jodie Foster based on the last book that astronomer Carl Sagan wrote before he died.


Joaquin and Liv

This is such a romantic video -- had to post it!! Joaquin Phoneix is sensational and it's so clear that he and Liv Tyler are infatuated here in Inventing The Abbots.


When You Say Nothing At All