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"The Signs Of Life"
Rating: PG-13 | for some frightening moments | Theatrical Release: 2002 | Runtime: 106 min.
Critique: "Signs" relies heavily on symbolism and a belief that there are no coincidences. The film seems to be a montage of documentary, sci-fi, thriller, and even comedy since it has a bigger meaning than just sci-fi. It doesn't waste time to lose your interest; rather it immediately cuts to the chase when crop circles are discovered on the family farm. Don't you hate those movies that just drag along? I'm afraid this isn't a huge thriller. There are very few times that this movie actually scares you. There are some, don't get me wrong. M. Night Shyamalan mainly relies on mystery and suspense instead of actually facing fear up close and personal. Shyamalan is the kind of guy who doesn't want to use CGI if at all possible, and frankly I don't blame him. The aliens that are used are CGI, and they're pretty good, but that's not good enough. Even though Shyamalan decided to use CGI, I honestly don't think he should have. CGI hasn't managed to maintain a perfect form and at times it doesn't look real. Even though "Signs'" CGI is top grade, it's not perfect and it tends to deteriorate the movie slightly. Don't expect to see a lot of communication between outsiders and the family. They do manage to go into town, but Shyamalan wants us to focus on the family's characteristics and their problems of crop circles. We are thrown into their own fears while the majority of outside communication is beamed through the family television. "Signs" displays some values of faith in God and it uses that concept along with symbolism to clean house at the end of the movie. Overall if you have a taste for sci-fi and the art of symbolism, this movie's for you.
*Audio 8/10: The audio is available in English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. English subtitles for the hearing impaired are also presented. "Signs" has a nice little score that will keep you on your toes with the discomfort of a possible invasion. In many moments of the film you can hear a pen drop, a nice addition to bring the fear into your hearing senses.
*Video 9/10: The video is presented in widescreen (1.85:1) for 16x9 televisions. Scene access and interactive menus are also available. The video is presented quite well, while beautiful farmland is shown in the filming locations of Pennsylvania. The colors are presented in a traditional and realistic way with dark colors, to show the mysterious terror of the family's problems.
*Extras 9/10: We get more and then some. This film is packed with extras however no trailer or audio commentaries are provided. Deleted scenes, Night's first alien film and storyboards are available. His first alien film is quite dull and corny, but it gives us an excellent example of his determination to become a filmmaker. The most impressive extra is the six-part documentary by M. Night Shyamalan, exploring various concepts including the ideas that made it, to the marketing of the film.
*Since studios release a variety of DVD editions: the audio, video, and extra reviews may be directed at one specific version.
A Walk to Remember (2002)
"It All Comes Down To Who's By Your Side"
A Walk to Remember
Rating: PG | for thematic elements, language and some sensual material Theatrical Release: 2002 Runtime: 102 min.
Critique: The foundation for "A Walk to Remember" is built upon hope, faith and love. The age old story of good and evil is portrayed here, yet not in a traditional style. The rebellion of Landon and his friends is introduced first. Jamie is portrayed as the preacher's daughter who sets the good example. The contrast of their characteristics is clearly defined in the movie, showing good and evil. Even though resentment is taken against their newfound relationship, they prove their love and stay together. Do you hate sappy love movies? Well this movie is anything but sappy. The care for realistic emotions between Landon and Jamie is carefully created while cheesy love is left in the can. Even though this is a romance, a small amount of comedy is added to keep the movie flowing smoothly. Jamie and Landon soon find themselves facing a serious roadblock. This problem is quite unusual for teen movies because I feel it's something that would be presented to an older audience. I can't reveal the situation since it will give away the movie, but I encourage everyone young and old to view the film. I'm glad this plot was chosen because it's something anyone could face at anytime and it should be considered more in film-making. Although "A Walk to Remember" isn't a true story, novelist Nicholas Sparks adds some similar situations in his life to the movie. The crew denies that the movie is a Christian film. However the use of faith, hope, and love develops their relationship. Without these values there wouldn't be a film because it's based on those principals. A specific religion isn't really discussed since it focuses upon a generic stance in the belief in God and the values I just mentioned. What a clever approach to make it basic don't you think? It tries not to offend by taking one side of a religion. The conclusion of the movie is wrapped up very beautifully, being based on faith and love; the values that Jamie cherishes oh so much. You're in for a great experience of faith and hope, proving that love never fails.
*Audio 8/10: There's music ranging from Cold to Switchfoot, however the film score steals the show easily. "Only Hope" is performed in it's entirety by Mandy Moore for the school play scene. It's not one of the highlights because it seems to last for an eternity. Shane West(Landon Carter) delivers a voice-over during the start of Mandy Moore's "Cry", making it a great way to end the film with a punch. There are some minor errors that could be fixed for the audio, but nothing major. Subtitles are presented in English, French and Spanish. Languages are available in English and French (Dubbed in Quebec) in Dolby Surround 5.1.
*Video: 8/10: A crisp and clear picture is presented throughout the entire film. There is some grain but you have to look close to see it. Beautiful arrays of colors are presented from the filming locations in and around Wilmington, NC. The video is offered in a letterbox widescreen format. Scene access and interactive menus are also available.
*Extras 7/10: The extras are quite nice for the film. Two commentaries are provided, the first by film director Adam Shankman, Shane West and Mandy Moore. The second is by novelist Nicholas Sparks and screenwriter Karen Janszen. A theatrical trailer, cast film highlights, and a music video are also provided. The first commentary is rather outlandish since they seem to goof off rather than giving us good details of the story as in the second commentary. Deleted scenes and a 'making of' should have been added for an in-depth analysis, but they fail to give us that. The best extra is the music video entitled "Cry" by Mandy Moore, which is based exclusively on the film.
*Since studios release a variety of DVD editions with extras: the audio, video, and extra reviews may be directed at one specific version.