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SIGNS


"... the work of a born filmmaker, able to summon apprehension out of thin air...I cannot think of a movie where silence is scarier, and inaction is more disturbing...In a time when Hollywood mistakes volume for action, Shyamalan makes quiet films. In a time when incessant action is a style, he persuades us to play close attention to the smallest nuances...Instead of flashy special effects, Shyamalan creates his world out of everyday objects. At the end of the film, I had to smile, recognizing how Shyamalan has essentially ditched a payoff. He knows, as we all sense, that payoffs have grown boring." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"...the movie is all tricks and premonitions; it plays on our primitive desire to see what's coming next in a way that proves a lot more compelling than what actually comes next...'Signs' is a virtual homage to 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind,' but Spielberg, in his stirring and magical 1977 sci-fi daydream, took a classic B-movie premise--beings from another world are coming!--and delivered something close to transcendence. Shyamalan, in his gloss on Spielberg, sets us up for transcendence, or at the very least a major wow, and delivers, instead, a highly portentous B movie." --Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

"... a cockeyed alien-invasion yarn about a Pennsylvania farmer, self-defrocked priest and recent widower whose faith in God is restored by a close encounter of the Hollywood kind...'Signs' is really about spiritual faith, not a supposition of alien life, and Shyamalan fuses the fictional evidence of his extraterrestrials with the presumed righteousness of God in a way that will make no sense to anyone who has ever questioned either...In one of the nuttiest speeches ever given in a sci-fi movie, Hess [Mel Gibson] divides people into two types--those who have faith in divine order and are therefore comforted, and those who believe they are alone in the universe and are therefore afraid...I can't remember if Gibson has cried in a movie before, but he does enough of it here to get Noah's Ark halfway up the mountain." --Jack Mathews, The New York Daily News

"The smallest details and scraps of dialogue shimmer with a mysterious significance that will be revealed, we trust, in another of those rug-pulling surprise endings that are the director's trademark...Skillful as he is, Mr. Shyamalan is undone by his pretensions...The movie's fuzzy pop-spiritualism carries a disturbing implication. Unless you have faith (in something tactfully left unspecified), it says, you are putting the integrity of your family and the very lives of your children at risk, and you no longer deserve to be called father--as if skepticism, or indeed any but the most literal-minded expression of belief, were a form of child abuse." -- A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"Shyamalan's great gift is the creation of atmosphere, the conjuring of spooky, unseen menace. When he gets around to doing this in 'Signs,' all is well, but it's a tossup as to whether the film offers enough of a payoff considering how long it takes to get where it's going...There's a strain of quirky, laconic humor here that is unexpected but effective. Less successful is the film's main theme, the power and even the necessity of faith." --Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

"... a compelling drama, a daytime nightmare that's limned in spare but cumulative details. But if hardhearted reason must be heard, the movie ultimately comes up short...Even though he shows some master touches throughout the movie, Shyamalan flits a little too lightly across the surface, like a pond skater...it just might be time for Shyamalan to vary his key." --Desson Howe, The Washington Post