Recent Updates

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
B+ ( Bob )

Tropic Thunder
A- ( Bob, Joel, Matt )

Pineapple Express
A- ( Bob, Matt )

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters
A+ ( Matt )


Search 1150 movie titles

Movie News


Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/morpoed/public_html/movies/index.php on line 116

The play's the thing
A review of Signs
by J. D. Rummel

Periodically in my reviews I moan about the terrible scripts that movies spring from. Signs is not one of those movies. Signs is a film about an alien invasion made by a man who understands that story is everything. Even if Signs did not boast excellent performances from every person that gets screen time, even if it were not beautifully, artfully lensed, it would still be a solid story about people who could be you or me.

Director: M. Night Shyamalan

Stars: Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin, Cherry Jones, Patricia Kalember, Jose L. Rodriguez

Rating: PG-13

Release: 08-02-2002

Time: 120 minutes

Buy Movie at M. Night Shyamalan, the writer, director, and producer of (and player in) Signs understands that story is key. He builds a wonderful tale about human beings dealing in human circumstances who come to realize with increasing tension that the fantastic is encroaching on that familiar world.

That simple story is really about Graham Hess (Mel Gibson) who is recently widowed and has lost his faith in a God with a plan. As Hess and his family discover crop circles in the adjoining cornfield they (and the viewers) are swept up in world of fleeting glimpses and eerie noises. Shyamalan grasps that the best fear is well fed by the unseen or the hinted at.

The tale builds momentum as we and the Hess family are informed by local events and the television that the world is experiencing the same strange events. This could have simply been a War of the Worlds, or Independence Day, but Shyamalan won't aim a special effects cannon at the premise and score. He builds this with the raw details of people we recognize as ourselves in a frightening situation.

It has chills, a few laughs, and it taps that part of us that hopes for survival. By its conclusion the story has taken Hess on a journey back to his lost faith and used virtually every detail to make it work. It is economical, lean, and powerful. There are some very minor questions the thinking viewer might put to the premise and details, but they are hardly crippling blows.

This week's Newsweek calls M. Night Shyamalan the next Spielberg. Based on his track record it doesn't seem that unlikely. Signs is the work of a master storyteller.