cranky home
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do         Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

amazon.gif
Top Selling DVD     Books

BLU-RAY DVDs:
50 Shades of Grey
Exodus Gods and Kings
Grand Budapest Hotel
Imitation Game, The
Into the Woods

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Robocop
Selma
Theory of Everything
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
Akira
Avatar
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Bambi
A Bug's Life
Cars
Chronicles of Narnia set
Coraline
Ghostbusters
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Ratatouille
Rio
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
combo
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE

OFCS

Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

 DISNEY PIXAR DVDs
Alice in Wonderland
Bambi
Beauty and the Beast
Bolt
Cinderella
Coraline
E.T.
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Pinocchio
Princess Mononoke
Ratatouille
Rio 
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy


Click for full sized poster

Buy the Poster

Signs

Starring Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Cherry Jones, Rory Culkin, Abigail Breslin, Patricia Kalember
Written and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
website: signs.movies.com

IN SHORT: Intelligent, if slow paced thrills. The positives outweigh any negative. [Rated PG-13 for some frightening moments. 107 minutes]

Ah, let us now delve deep into the Great Mysteries of Planet Earth. No, not the ruins of a great Roman Era city found submerged in the depths of the Bermuda Triangle. No, not the alleged alien spaceship runways scratched into the high plains of South America. Let us set out sights on the Heartland of the Great America, a small farm community in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Bread basket to a continent and a natural canvas to something that likes to smash the pre-harvest crop into circles and lines, patterns that pose a mystery to all. But before we get to all that . . .

It may be hard to imagine, but before television there was a thing called "radio," in most homes a huge box with big tubes lining its gut, spitting out pictureless dramas called "radio plays" which, sometimes, scared the hell out of the country. Get an encyclopedia. Look up "Orson Welles". Seventy plus years after Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast, writer/director M. Night Shyamalan lets his sound technicians go wild as he brings the best elements of radio drama -- things are a lot scarier if you can't see what is doing the scaring (now look up "Spielberg" and/or "Jaws" in any readily available film history tome) and lets loose Signs. At its best, the scares come out of nowhere and had us jumping out of our seat. At its worst, it takes a damned long time building up to those "at its best" moments. Running all through the middle is a bit of backstory about the loss of Faith and what it takes to get it back.

Which brings us back to Father Graham Hess (Mel Gibson), sorry, he hung up his collar six months before the story starts due to a freakish set of events that robbed him of his wife, Colleen, and his Faith in God. Those events are detailed in flashback by Shyamalan, who hides the truly disgusting parts in dialog that sets the scene and speeds off. Radio tactics, you gotta love 'em. In the intervening months, Hess has been joined on the family farm by his brother, ex-minor league ballplayer Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix). The pair run watch over Graham's kidlets, an asthmatic son (Rory Culkin) and a snippet of a daughter so young that she probably won't remember her mother in a couple of years. If, that is, she lasts a couple of years.

Weird things start to happen on the Hess homestead. Noises in the night. A discovery of tramped down crops in an elaborate pattern -- crop circles, the current equivalent to other alleged alien sightings. Dad thinks that some local kids are playing a prank. The son, believing everything he reads in a book about these things, is convinced that extraterrestrial aliens are about to descend and destroy.

Whatever it is, it ain't "little". Don't forget that the centerpiece of this story is formed by a quartet of emotionally shell-shocked characters who don't need much to fire their imaginations. What happens to their world is best left to your imagination. More radio stuff. This ex-radio guy loves seeing that classic stuff, so to speak. Signs is too smart to be a standard BEM flick Shyamalan's script intelligently builds the tension but, when the scares come, they just weren't as big as our expectations were.

That means the capper in the Third Act didn't deliver for us. Your results may vary but, by the rules we laid down for this site years ago, we can't go into a deep discussion of what works and what doesn't because it means giving the ending away. That's a no-no here. Feel free to discuss it all on the message boards.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Signs, he would have paid . . .

$5.50

Overall, our audience was happy enough with Signs. Us too, but that didn't keep 'em in their seats to decompress after all the shocks and escalating tension had played out. This ain't a summer "movie" movie. It is the second film with aims at statue nods and a wish for an early start on that race. T'ain't no diss, but Signs ain't no bug eyed monster flick, either.

Had to explain that BEM thing for the kidlets . . .

amazon com link Click to buy films by M. Night Shyamalan
Click to buy films starring Mel Gibson
Click to buy films starring Joaquin Phoenix
Click Here!

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.