Caught Signs over the weekend, and, I must say, it was the worst movie I’ve paid money for in some time. (Ok, Reign of Fire wasn’t very good, but it never pretended to be anything but a B-movie…one look at Matthew McConaughey as Ahab/Kurtz could tell you that. Signs has delusions of grandeur.) I liked both Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, so was quite dismayed at how dismal this film turned out. It’s hard to go into the many problems with it without giving the movie away, so click to reveal any spoilerific information below (and sorry this post now looks like a letter out of Catch-22):
a) Let’s begin with the ending….if you’ve seen it, you know what I’m going to say, but c’mon…the water bit made absolutely no sense. Even aside from the fact that both this planet and its inhabitants are made up of mostly water, what were these aliens going to do if it rained? b) Why travel interstellar distances in state-of-the-art ships, cloak after everyone’s seen you, and then run around the planet comprised of 75% water stark-naked? c) Why was the alien fx so horribly bad? It gave me shivers about Gollum. d) Every one of the small-town folk came off as completely Hollywood-false, particularly the good-hearted sheriff and Basil Exposition, the “probing” army recruiting officer. e) Mel’s a preacher, Joaquin’s a down-and-out minor leaguer…who’s actually harvesting all that corn? f) The ridiculous foreshadowing of Mel’s crisis of faith – “Don’t call me father” over and over again. Which brings me to another problem with the ending: So all of these signs somehow do add up to cosmic design, such as the kid having asthma and the dead wife being savvy enough to tell Mel it might be a good idea to have Slugger go after the alien with a baseball bat…what does this mean about God? He’s a God of Humanity only, unconcerned with the fate of this poor water-hating, lousy-FX alien? I don’t buy it.
g) The kids…ugh, the ever-lovin’ kids. Too wise, too special, too obnoxious. h) The family scenes, and particularly the strange last dinner episode and both of the ill-timed disquisitions on childbirth…flat, bizarre, and wholly unrealistic. i) The television. You’d think after 9-11 it’d be much easier to create realistic looking “crisis television.” But every time they turned on the idiot box it was stilted, exposition time again, the Brazilian birthday party scene aside, one of the only legitimately scary and well-done sequences in the film. j) With the exception of the shiny knife under the pantry door (don’t get me started on why these aliens have so many issues with doors – this away team didn’t bring a phaser or an axe to their alien invasion?), almost all of the “Hitchcockian flourishes” seemed too consciously crafted, particularly both long scenes involving the flashlight. I think I liked it better when it was called “The Blair Witch Project.” Ok, enough dissing the film. Suffice to say, I don’t recommend it. Joaquin was very good, and to be honest Mel wasn’t bad either. I blame Shyamalan. (In happier news, I saw Sexy Beast on DVD last night and quite enjoyed it.)