display | more...

"Signs" is M. Night Shyamalan's version of the old alien invasion scenario. Although the advertising for the movie holds out the promise of an X-Files sort of mystery involving crop circles, the movie itself wastes no time making it clear that aliens have come to Earth and are preparing an invasion force. It's all downhill from there, as Shyamalan attempts to use his trademark blend of mysticism and family values in a genre that simply doesn't mesh well with these themes.

All of the motifs Shyamalan used so well in "The Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable" can be seen in "Signs" as well. The family recovering from traumatic events, the broken father figure who has to confront his loss of faith, the precocious child who instinctively knows the answers to all the mysteries, and even a helpful ghost of sorts. These things had their place in the previous movies - superhero stories and ghost stories are all, to an extent, about faith and destiny and traditional morality. By using these themes, and emphasizing the human aspect of his stories rather than the grand conflict, Shyamalan managed to put a human face on stories more traditionally associated with the mysterious and the numinous. "The Sixth Sense" showed us one of the most believable ghosts in the history of the genre; "Unbreakable" did not quite make superheroes believable, but presented us, through an emphasis on realistically flawed characters and family dynamics, with a quietly magnificent origin story. Both movies managed to almost completely dispense with the dazzling special effect shots and intense action of their genres, and still work as unusually taut thrillers.

The problem is that these things don't work with the science fiction conflict of "Signs". In fact, they make the conflict completely meaningless. The aliens, in the final analysis, are nothing but an obstacle in the father's search for his lost faith. The movie isn't really about Mel Gibson fighting the alien invasion singlehandedly, it's about Mel Gibson putting his priest's uniform back on and getting a new dog.

Since most of you probably won't take my word for it and will want to go see the movie anyway, I will refrain from doing my usual detailed listing of plot holes. Two more things have to be said, though - Mel Gibson gives us some of his worst acting ever, and since the aliens are really nothing but a huge plot device, Shyamalan didn't bother to put any work into making them logical. Their biology is incredibly, horribly wrong, and is a huge slap in the face to all science fiction fans. Feel free to /msg me if you disagree, upon which I will give you a list of books to read. Just some basic biology and Science Fiction 101.


If you want to see this sort of thing done right, check out the following:

"Signs" is a 1970 song by the Canadian group "The Five Man Electrical Band", and also returned to fame in 1990 when hard rock group Tesla released a live cover of it. This is the only song by the band to reach prominence, making them a one-hit wonder of sorts.

The song attempts to be some sort of social commentary about how straight society is filled with rules and regulations. I don't know if anyone has ever come to an understanding of the oppressiveness of the bourgeois after having their consciousness awoken by this song. It comes across as a novelty song, and its entertainment value seems to be in the self-righteousness of the narrator as he strikes out at non-longhaired society. This reaches its height when he exclaims:

What gives you a right to put up a sign to keep me out, or to keep mother nature in? If God were here, he'd tell you to your face, man, you're some kind of sinner.
Although channeling the judgment of God is an accomplishment, it doesn't make the song that much more listenable. The only thing the song does accomplish is getting stuck firmly in the listener's head. A note should also be made about the cover version by Tesla. I imagine that some sort of irony was intended in their cover, but even so, it was not particularly notable. I have commented earlier that we have probably forgotten just how dull music was in the area immediately proceeding grunge, and the fact that a hard rock band would be covering this song shows just how bad the situation was in the early 1990s.

There are many vapid pop songs. In fact, most pop songs are vapid. But in songs like "Signs", where they attempt to "make statements", they reach the pinnacle of annoyance.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.