Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix
Directed By:
M. Night Shyamalan

Most of us are familiar with the phenomenon of crop circles. There are those who believe they are the work of extra-terrestrials, beings from some other place attempting to make contact with us. Others believe that crop circles are nothing more than an elaborate hoax; there have been numerous television specials showing us that with a board, some rope, and a few friends, you can make a crop circle of your own. In Signs, director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable) gives us his take on which of the theories is true, though I won't say which one.

I'll attempt to give you the basic story without ruining the movies' plot. Mel Gibson plays Graham Hess, a former reverend who loses his faith when his wife dies. He lives on his farm with his son, Morgan (Rory Culkin), daughter Bo (Abigail Breslin) and brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix). He awakens one morning to the sounds of his children screaming and yelling, and rushes out to his cornfield to see what is wrong. There he discovers that his field has become another in a string of crop circles that have been popping up all over the world within the last 72 hours. I really don't want to tell you any more than that, and if you have seen M. Night Shyamalan's other movies you know why. It's best to go into this movie knowing as little as possible about the plot.

Much like The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, Signs takes a while to get moving. Some people complain about the plodding pace, others (myself included) enjoy a movie that has a slow, steady buildup. Unlike M. Night Shyamalans' previous films however, you don't have to wait until the end to find out the big secret, it's revealed about 30 minutes into the movie. That doesn't mean you will not be surprised any more, quite the opposite; knowing what is happening actually seemed to add to the tension, not diminish it.

If you were a fan of M. Night Shyamalan's previous movies, you will absolutely love Signs. Even if you didn't enjoy (or didn't see) those other films, you owe it to yourself to see Signs, as it is one of the better films released this year. In a season of mediocre sequels, lame comedies and been there, done that action films, Signs is a reminder that there are still a few filmmakers who can produce original, well written, directed and acted movies.

- - Darken Rahl

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