" Let me pause here to say that I never, ever, want to live by a cornfield…those things are creepy. "
Title: Signs by Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Format: DVD-Suspense Drama
Reviewing Monkey: Chimpan-A
The Hype: M. Night Shyamalan's latest directorial treat featuring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix. A gripping tale of terror, claustrophobia, and Aluminum Foil hats. A simple pastor turned farmer must protect his family from what could be an impending invasion. Of course we all know that M. Night is rather infamous for his tricky plot twists. If I wasn't wearing my protective gear, you could just read my mind and find out what the review says. Thanks to the nifty promotional gear they sent us (which included aluminum foil to wrap around me noggin), you'll just have to read on.
What This Monkey Thought...
Story and Acting: Mr. Shyamalan does not disappoint with this flick. The plot and story are all wonderfully cohesive, even given the premise of the movie (the importance of coincidences). Essentially, and without giving away too much, we start out with our good pastor discovering that a crop circle has been made in his cornfield. Let me pause here to say that I never, ever, want to live by a cornfield…those things are creepy. Anyway, as we move through the movie we find out that there are more circles, and even lights in the sky, and everything progresses from there. The acting is terrific, with Mel Gibson turning in a stellar performance. He really plays the part of a faithless man facing down an unimaginable terror to the hilt. Joaquin is a great second to Mel- the two playing off each other perfectly. Even the kids give good accountings. Rory Culkin goes a long way towards atoning for his brother's horrific crimes. If the acting had a weak point, I'd have to say that M. Night could use a couple more lessons (as he puts in his mandatory cameo), but it's a good natured rib. The acting is certainly solid all around. 5 out of 5
Visuals and Directing: Well, Shyamalan has certainly proven that he has the skills required to properly direct a Hitchcockian tale of horror…and believe me that's what this is. With very long drawn out visuals that just beg your minds eye to make up anything and everything and very seldom revealing the source of the dread. Shyamalan manages to create a suspense piece wholly different from the common "Ooh look, I cut off its head and blood splatters" films of today. The movie does a great job of making you feel shut in and claustrophobic. Lots of interior shots and close ups on characters. Some of the tensest moments in the movie take place in a very small basement- and it's shot with excellent flair (and, speaking of which, this seems like a good time to again reiterate that I don't really want to live by a cornfield). The only hiccup the movie experiences is some of the CG towards the end. Otherwise, the visuals are all very well done and keep well to the theme. And you can certainly tell that none of the actors are searching for a way to be or react as they've all got their parts down. I do have to say a word about the music, which the director definitely had his hands in, only to say that it is most excellent, and fits this piece to a T. 4.5 out of 5
DVD Extras: Up until now this review has been raves, and that's because Signs is an excellent movie. Unfortunately, the DVD is not exactly a great addition above and beyond the movie. You get about five or six deleted scenes, six little mini-documentaries, and a clip (a clip mind you, not the full thing) from one of M. Night's first movies. There is no director's commentary and, as you might expect, on a movie like this- a complicated, image heavy exploration, that's a crime as it's incredibly useful and entertaining to hear what the director was thinking. The best parts of most DVDs are the deleted scenes and director's commentary. They let you know about the stuff that you missed, and what the hell was going through his mind when he came up with half this crap. Sadly, this disc is lacking. Even the features that they do give are only kind of interesting. The shorter ones are better, for my money. 2 out of 5
Value vs. Price: Well, you're mostly getting an excellent movie for your money here, but keep in mind that it is an excellent movie. There are some extras, but nothing that will really sell the DVD on its own. Even the few deleted scenes are nothing that will really expose some hidden facet of the movie. If you're buying this movie, it's mostly on the weight of the movie itself, which is pretty good. 3 out of 5
|Signs is a truly awesome movie, I will say that right up front. The visuals and the acting really sink the feelings home. It's also got a lot of natural humor to it, to relieve some of the tension at times. M. Night. Shyamalan has not disappointed here. The main issue with this DVD is the lack of meaty extras. Had they really included some juicy extras on this thing it would have catapulted the movie to superstar levels. As it stands, it's just a very good movie.|
The Good: An excellent film in a classic sci-fi sensibility
The Bad: Not enough extras for this monkeys taste
The Overall Ugly: Personally I think Shyamalan should have stuck with the visuals he pioneered in his first alien film…
What it's Worth: Oh pay full price, it's DVD quality we're talking about here, full THX optimization support and everything.