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242 out of 371 people found the following review useful:

What was the guy on who invented this ridiculous story??? ***Spoiler Alert***

1/10
Author: Martin Lange (martin_lange) from Auckland/NZ
28 February 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

*** Spoiler Alert **** Spoiler Alert *** Spoiler Alert ***

OK, this movie has a good cinematography and one cannot argue about the good craftsmanship.

However, who invented this ridiculous story???

Let me get this right:

a) Aliens can travel millions of light years in their space crafts, but lack the technology of breaking into a wooden house. b) For that matter - a seven-foot-tall alien, who can run like an Olympic athlete, can be locked into a wooden kitchen pantry without being able to escape. c) Aliens (able to travel space) run around naked and cannot deal with water. Does this imply that a raincoat is a more sophisticated invention than a spaceship? d) Aliens come to `harvest human beings', but can be scared off by wooden clubs. Aehhh . the human body consists 90+% of water, which the aliens cannot handle . does this qualify for the `real dumb plot award'??? e) A referent looses his faith when his wife dies (which is fair), but regains it when he remembers her last words which tip him off that Aliens doesn't like being beaten with wooden clubs . are there more people who think this is crap???

Also:

f) When confronted with an imminent Alien attack, board yourself into a lonely wooden house in the prairie - don't go into the next town, arm yourself and join the local militia / military organisation.

g) Don't have the asthma medicine your son's life is depending on handy. h) After you boarded up your house, just hang around in the lounge. Don't fortify your cellar basement and shift all your water, food and medicine there. i) Lacking fire arms, don't arm yourself with knifes, axes or whatever you can find. Leave your vicious guard dogs (who detect aliens earlier than you and could scare them off) outside the house.

.. And the top price goes to:

j) Alien communication can best be observed on baby monitors!!! . sophisticated civil air control and military radar equipment cannot spot them.

Well, they don't make movies like that one any more. Hopefully, no-one will never ever make a movie like that one again!!!

My opinion - right down there with `Battlefield Earth' and `Giggli'. 1 out of 10.

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220 out of 356 people found the following review useful:

underrated film

Author: J_Charles from over there
28 July 2005

I don't think this film deserved the poor reviews that some gave it. I've only seen 3 of Night Shylaman's films (6th Sense, Unbreakable) and this one is the most sophisticated in my mind in terms of the director manipulating the viewers into seeing and believing what he wants you to believe.

This is not Gibson's worst film by any means. If anything he gets to try to portray an understated, confused, and emotionally scarred character and I think he soft-sells it very well. Joaquin Phoenix also has a similar character to play and he too soft-sells it well. That was probably not an accident as their calm, sullen personalities contrast with the unbearable situation they find themselves in.

If you haven't already, see it - and keep an open mind.

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144 out of 239 people found the following review useful:

Deplorable...no respect for science fiction or for intelligence, for that matter

1/10
Author: gregep from United States
10 December 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As a long-time science fiction fan and as a scientist, I was not prepared for the insult foisted upon this viewer by this miscarriage of the legacy of true science fiction. If one wishes to have a movie about faith and redemption, fine, but don't trash a whole genre in the process with unbelievable sloppiness. Three years after seeing the film, I still feel insulted.

Spoilers: Why would an intelligent life form capable of traversing untold distances and for whom contact with water is fatal choose a planet for invasion whose surface is predominantly water? Why would that intelligent life form be incapable of sufficient intelligence and tools to free itself from an ordinary locked room? Why would those beings choose to prey on beings that are primarily composed of that substance they find fatal? The list goes on and on, but the bottom line is that some director with no feel and, obviously, no respect for the genre choose that genre for his vehicle? Oh, yeah, name stars and $$$.

Next time I see the name M. Night Shyamalan, I'll forego the experience.

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130 out of 216 people found the following review useful:

Advanced beings who have mastered Space Travel but have a deadly

1/10
Author: coj_lewis from United Kingdom
21 May 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Advanced beings who have mastered Space Travel but have a deadly aversion to water choose to invade a planet where every breath you take is full of moisture, the atmosphere is full of moisture so guess the outcome. Also, even with there advanced knowledge they seem to have a problem breaking down wooden barriers. And was it only me but didn't that maize field scene look remarkably like the scene from E.T. But hang on this film isn't about Alien Invasion at all I hear you shout, its about man questioning and rediscovering his faith. Well, he may have done that but i lost my faith in the American Film Industry in the process. This is a film that insults the audience's intelligence.

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110 out of 182 people found the following review useful:

Outlandish plot holes ruin film

1/10
Author: jakekelly from United States
25 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this film at a packed opening weekend showing in NYC. As the film progressed and the tension rose I thought to myself that this was actually a pretty good film. There were scares, some laughs and even some scenes that tugged at the old heart strings. It reminded me of Night of the Living Dead and the original War of the Worlds, both of which are long time favorites. Durring the final, climactic scene something so completely retarded occurred that I was ripped out of the contented haze the movie had lulled me into. I was shocked. I turned to my girlfriend and said "They get killed by water? Water kills them?" She said, loudly "This movie is F*CKING DUMB!" And I said "I don't believe it..." And that's it. Naked aliens who find water to be deadly come to the wettest place in this solar system. Then, believe it or not, they get killed with water. Other posters (nearly 1,000 or something) have pointed out how utterly insulting this is so I won't go any further into it. I would like to know why the people who rate this a 10 don't bother addressing this outlandish plot device that destroys the entire film for so many others. I would even accept an explanation like "I am an idiot and MAJOR plot-holes don't bother me at all". Has M. Night ever defended this ludicrous flick? No? That's probably because it's indefensible.

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133 out of 229 people found the following review useful:

Mostly dreadful, with some redeeming features

3/10
Author: Everton_Paul from United Kingdom
25 February 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film could have been so, so much better. Its greatest weak points are 1) the overly religious theme and the complete pap that links coincidence, fate and religious faith, and 2) completely stupid and illogical storyline regarding the Aliens attack of the earth.

The cinematography is good, but nothing special. Mel Gibson's acting is laboured. Joaquin Phoenix is better, and has real talent, but is wasted in this. The dialogue is cringe-worthy in many over the top sentimental scenes between Gibson and his kids.

The best thing about this movie is the genuine build up of tension for the 1st hour or so. Like some of the best monster/alien movies, the creature(s) are only revealed a tiny bit at a time – and old (but good) tricks are used to keep the suspense high. Up until this point I was quite enjoying the film, and it 'had me going' a little.

The finishing 30 mins does not do any justice to the build up, and the plot at the end is just silly and lame. I don't really know where to begin .. Well, OK, for starters, it seems absolutely ridiculous to me that an extremely advanced race of Aliens (as they must be to build space craft that can travel great distances in space and that can also be rendered invisible to our eyes when they get here) have to…

i) create crop circles to navigate the earth ii) cannot work out ways to smash down wooden doors and battened windows of a house.

You would think that had they come millions of miles to 'harvest (????)' humans they would have come prepared with some sort of hi tech guns that paralyse us, or at the very least some suits that make themselves invisible (like their ships) or maybe carry some hi-tech equipment to aid them in their task. But oh no, they wander around our planet surface butt naked thereby enabling us to lock them in wooden pantries! Perhaps if we were told that the Aliens are giving us a sporting chance (a la the Predator alien that hunts Arnie) then we might be willing to suspend disbelief regarding their apparent incompetence in 'harvesting' an inherently inferior race (i.e. us) a little more, but we are not led to believe that they are doing any such thing.

You would also think, that such an advanced race of Aliens would probably work out a way to feed themselves without having to travel round the galaxy looking for beings to 'harvest', assuming that they are 'harvesting' us for food (we are not really told). And if it's meat they want, you'd think they get better value harvesting cows, sheep and pigs, no? In fact, if they'd just have asked us, 'hey we need some food', I'm sure planet earth's leaders would have given them a good supply of meat. But no, they attack us and risk themselves in the process!

Also why, if water is like acid to them, are they wandering around butt naked on a planet that has most of its surface covered in water and whose atmosphere is full of water droplets and vapour??!!? Are we supposed to believe that bulk quantities of water 'melt' the aliens, but they can quite happily breathe our air complete with the high levels of water vapour that is in it?!? And if they don't breathe (we are never really told much about the aliens) then still the high levels of water vapour in our air would surely be a bit of a problem to them, no?

There are just so many stupid inconsistencies in this film, it is almost quite laughable. And it is a shame really, because (as I said initially) the film is genuinely scary and suspenseful in the 1st hour. It's just that when the final credits roll, you think, 'hang-on a minute, that ending was just complete nonsense!!!'

For all the hype M. Night Shyamalan is getting for writing, producing and directing his films, he really should learn a bit of science before trying to write a plot involving science fiction

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79 out of 126 people found the following review useful:

Don't Believe The Hype - Especially Not Your Own

1/10
Author: TheJudge-2 from London, England
9 February 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

*** Possible Spoilers Ahead ***

I was originally sad to have missed this movie in the theatres, because I had heard good things about it. So it was with anticipation that I rented the DVD and settled back for a good evening's viewing... ...Ooops!

I always start by trying to say something nice about a film, because almost no movie is universally bad. Well, "Signs" is extremely well-shot, with production design and camera work combining seamlessly to evoke a sense of atmosphere and growing panic - hats off to Tak Fujimoto. The casting and acting are good too - Mel does a classically Gibson good job of creating the role of the self-doubting agonised ex-Father father, Joaquin Phoenix provides a good foil as his ingenuous brother, and both child actors are convincing and endearing, their performances realistic enough to engage your sympathies.

Sadly, that's as far as it goes. I started to worry as soon as I saw that M Night Shyamalan, not satisfied with writing *and* directing the movie, had decided to shove himself in front of the camera too, in his role as the hapless killer of Mrs. Mel. Bad move, M Night. You're no actor, but worse still in one stroke you evaporated my suspension of disbelief - I'm instantly asking myself "Good grief - it's the director! why the Heck does he feel the need to be on screen?" This totally smacked of self-indulgence and a nasty little suspicion of self-publicising arrogance. It's almost as if, after just three movies, M Night has decided that he deserves a Hitchcock-esque cameo performance in his forthcoming movies as some sort of signature - except he picks out a role for himself that is way larger than incidental.

And destroying the suspension of disbelief is what this movie achieves effortlessly as the action progresses. Forget the obvious borrowings from at numerous other mainline sci-fi sources - M Night would probably call these deliberate "hommages", and frankly it helps pass the time to pick these out. You'll find Night Of The Living Dead, Independence Day, Day Of The Triffids, War Of The Worlds at the very least and there's more.

This however is not the problem. It's the gaping plot holes, the sheer stupidity of the actions of both people and aliens in the context that's been created for them. To highlight just a couple out of countless - aliens capable of interstellar travel being unable to get past a flimsy wooden door? Those same ultra-genius aliens not realising that perhaps bringing an umbrella along with a crowbar might be a good idea?? Mel deciding not to bother calling the authorities to alert them there's a trapped alien in his neighbour's pantry, and for him to just go on home instead??? I couldn't avoid hearing leaden clang after clang as these incongruities kept smacking me between the eyes.

I also scowl at the massively misrepresented marketing of "Signs" - it simply cannot be a movie about alien invasion, because it's so threadbare of plot, so it *must* therefore be a contrived vehicle about one man's loss and subsequent regaining of his faith, although the massively laboured and contrived series of coincidences in the movie - the fortuitously half-full water glasses left around, the precognitive message from the dying wife, the well-timed asthma attack - would be enough to turn the most rabid atheist back to God. Who needs faith in those circumstances, because blatant proof is being rubbed in your face.

In summary, my central criticism of "Signs" remains the way in which we the audience are implicitly patronised as being stupid. You can almost hear the thought process - "Give the poor fools enough style and atmosphere and they'll not even notice the fact that there's no sense in the plot." Don't believe your own hype, M Night. Sure, "Sixth Sense" was a good movie, though less original and far less "shockingly twisted at the end" than the media would have had us believe, but "Unbreakable" was no more than poor to average. "Signs" has its good points, but never presume you can get your audience to swallow everything. Yes, we like style and love atmosphere, but sorry, if you're going to set up a narrative context - and remember you wrote the story too - then we need even vaguely convincing plot too. Sorry, but we as viewers deserve better than this.

Four out of Ten - and that's for cinematography.

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91 out of 153 people found the following review useful:

Sucked totally.

1/10
Author: Priceguy from Sweden
30 November 2003

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie was the most illogical and predictable piece of crap I've seen in years. I loved Unbreakable and Sixth Sense, but this film feels like M Night Shyamalan's attempt to see how ridiculously absurd he can make a movie while still getting it made. He did a good job too. I can't really explain what's so bad about it without spoiling it, so:

***********SPOILERS***********

- Nothing makes any sense. Water-allergic aliens landing on Earth without protective suits? Don't give me that "alien logic" stuff. It's just dumb.

- The divine message from God is "take the big bloody piece of wood and whack the alien over the head". Yeah, he'd never have thought of that himself. It takes divine wisdom to think of clobbering an intruder with a baseball bat.

- A Middle Eastern village finds out how to defeat the aliens (water, how original!) and from there it spreads throughout the world. How? We're conveniently not told, but it managed to elude the reporter with 30 cell phones and 50 fax machines. Every Pakistani peasant got the message, but CNN missed it. Yeah. Sounds likely.

- Did anyone believe Mel Gibson wouldn't get his faith back at the end? Even for a second?

Waste of time, money, and celluloid.

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105 out of 188 people found the following review useful:

Visually terrific

Author: xfile731 (xfile731@pacbell.net) from SF, California
3 August 2002

M. Night Shyamalan has done it again, and this time, better. If 'Unbreakable' left skepticism about the young director, `Signs' will make you a believer again.

Mel Gibson and his family, one boy, one girl, and Gibson's younger brother (Joaquin Phoenix) take residence in the small town of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Gibson's wife is not a member of this household (we find out why, later). Shot over and around a 'Walton's-style' house and surrounded by crops, we get the eerie feeling that we are to be entangled here for the next two hours. Immediately, the children notice gigantic perfect circular shapes or signs as we like to call them, appearing within the crops. Is this a hoax or War of the Worlds? And, that's all you need to know. The rest of film will dazzle you with style, suspense, and downright scariness.

The key ingredients to this recipe for storytelling is one half Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a dash of Stephen King, sprinkled with Orson Wells. Shyamalan also uses Hitchcock like close ups, wicked camera angles, and a blasting score. You are locked in as soon as the movie begins. You will tilt your head in wonder and confusion, as characters in the film do. There is a deep desire to figure this all out, while your stuck in the middle of nowhere, nowhere being Bucks County.

The picture gives us two ultimate dilemmas to wrestle with. Two basic questions we must ask ourselves. Are our daily occurrences and the paths we choose Coincidence? Or, are is it just plain Luck? Shyamalan weaves these posing questions into a subplot, with trickery until the end. From scene to scene, he leaves no fades to black. As one scene ends the other smartly begins. That's what keeps the audience watching as if we were tucked tightly into our beds and rapidly turning pages of a good book. Each page is significant. This movie isn't just about crops. That's what makes Shyamalan such a keen filmmaker. He has the talent and ability to fog up the film, and distract you with different propositions.

Shyamalan uses technique to peak his story, rather than dialogue. His masterful and favorite formula is the usage of flashbacks, which gives the audience a chance to catch up on what they might have missed. He emphasizes his points by re-occurring scenes and replaying them for the grand effect, the 11th hour, until he hits you with the finale. Whether you believe the outcome or not, you cannot deny his aptitude for storytelling.

This nervous and paranoid feature film with a heart-pounding ending is terrific. I was still thinking about it when I left the theater. You too, will enjoy the ride. But, when it's over, say your prayers, get into bed, pull the sheets over your head, breathe a sigh of relief, and close the book!

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157 out of 292 people found the following review useful:

Riveting and clever scarefest reinvents the modern horror film

Author: Rob from Charlotte, North Carolina
6 August 2002

I have been a horror film fan for 30 years. While I remember a few films actually scaring me as a kid (Jaws, Psycho), I have failed to encounter many in my adult life. I like to be scared, but Hollywood has seen fit to retread every tired formulaic convention in just about everything it throws at the local multiplex. Even the independent filmmakers, free of the "system", seem to forget what FEAR is. Mostly I sit solemnly staring in disbelief at the screen, waiting and hoping to get those goosebumps. Then, finally, we were given Signs. Most will say, including the director, that this is not a horror film; I genuinely disagree. If this is not a horror flick, then it is time for this film to start a branch of its own and begin a new genre. I admired every little aspect of this picture, from the use of everyday objects: baby monitor, a blank television screen and a half empty glass of water, to convey and act as a vehicle to extract fear from the ordinary. Most of all, Shyamalan is an expert craftsman and knows how to get the most out of space, actors and sound. It is the lingering shot on a basement staircase when you are desperately hoping he moves his camera to show us more, or the screeching sound in the next room whose source he won't reveal . This director knows just how long to hold the shot, to increase the tension and build the suspense, long enough for our mind to begin forming pictures. And those pictures can be the most frightening of all. Stay the course Shyamalan.

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