All `Signs’ point to brilliant performances

Jarrett Keels
University Times (Niner Online<

Hold the phone. You didn’t actually think that the summer was over, did you? Yes, “Spider-Man” set all kinds of records and “Star Wars” and “Austin Powers in Goldmember” were supposed to be some more top grossing movies of the summer.

But not anymore.

For anyone who hasn’t yet seen M. Night Shyamalan ‘s newest thriller “Signs” is missing out what it truly means to be a “Summer Blockbuster.”

This is the same director that brought us titles like “Unbreakable” and “The Sixth Sense.” His newest adaptation to the screen is by far his best work to date. This movie will keep you guessing until the very end – like most of his movies have been and though I was a little bit disappointed in the closing scene, the entire movie works – and works brilliantly.

From the opening credits, I was hooked. James Newton Howard’s creepy, nail-biting score seemed to accent every time my heart was about to jump out of my chest. The opening credits roll much like an old `B-movie’ flick – with just the names of the characters and director flashing up on the screen, all in time with the eerie music. Very cool.

The film doesn’t waste any time and the very first scene has Mel Gibson waking up, going outside in his field, and immediately finds himself in the middle of the first crop circle.

Of course everyone expected Gibson to put on a great performance. He has been around the block and has done so many different genres of film – this should be natural to him by now. He always tends to amaze me. The last time I saw him was several months back as an General in “When We Were Soldiers.” I thought he was flawless in that, but his character, Father Graham Hess in “Signs,” is by far his best. I was captivated by the performance – I felt what he felt. Around every corner, every time it was dark outside and you knew something was about to jump out at you – I felt that my heart was racing in time just as his was. You will feel like you’re in the movie.

Just as impressive were two newcomers – Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin who play Hess’ children. Shyamalan was able to shoot “Sixth Sense” key child actor Haley Joel Osmond into superstardom and he will do the same for Culkin and Breslin. Not only do these two have a lot of screen time in the movie; they also have very important key dialog to the film. It has been a very long time sense I have seen a child actor control the camera like these two do throughout the one hour, 47 minute running time of the movie.

M. Night himself makes a “cameo” in the film that turns out to be a little more. His character role builds and builds until you realize that he is the turning point of the flick (hint, hint.)

This movie has several story lines, but unlike “The Sixth Sense,” Shyamalan makes sure that you know exactly what’s going on. There aren’t “hidden clues” like in his other movie. This is both good and bad. I understand that he wants to make sure the audience understands, but he plays it off like “this is a weird movie, you won’t get it unless I tell you.”

Yes we will, man! I figured out the other movies!

I can’t recommend this movie enough. I wanted to get up and get a drink or something in the middle, but I could not pull myself away from my seat for even one second. It’s that kind of movie. I don’t want to tell too much more because I’ll give a lot away – but just be ready. This movie has everything – it’s smart, it’s funny – and it will scare the hell out of you. But in a good way.

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