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EXCLUSIVE FIRST REVIEW OF ‘SIGNS’ MOVIE - 09/05/2002

Swirled News is proud to present, as far as we are aware, the very first review anywhere of the forthcoming Mel Gibson movie ‘Signs’, which involves crop circles. Through genuinely staggering chance, some US correspondents of ours were able to attend a preview screening. As for the film itself, the, er, signs, perhaps predictably, are not good…


In an astonishing coincidence, some Swirled News correspondents in Los Angeles recently found themselves being offered free tickets for a preview screening of the movie ‘Signs’. These screenings are used to gauge public reaction to films a few months before they are released, allowing time to perform edits if deemed necessary.

Because of preview etiquette, we cannot reveal the names of those whose comments follow below, suffice to say these are GENUINE reviews by GENUINE correspondents.

Everything about these reviews screams that ‘Signs’ should be treated with the utmost caution in terms of having anything valuable to say about the real crop circle phenomenon, confirming the fears aired recently on Swirled News (see April headlines). Those fronting the PR or attaching great hopes to the film might wish to pause for reflection on reading the following reviews and comments… - Ed.

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REVIEW

Through a typical surprise of synchronicity, this reviewer stumbled upon the opportunity to attend a Hollywood screening of the new Mel Gibson starrer ‘Signs’. The first notable is that this screening even occurred at all. Considering that the movie is not scheduled for release in the US until August 2nd, a "sneak preview" this early is unusual, and most likely an indication that the producers and studio are nervous about it. Also, it is particularly significant that they would preview it in Los Angeles at all, generally considered a "no-no" for market research screenings (the buying tastes of Los Angeles audiences are generally not considered as representative of the "masses"). I can only think the filmmakers are wondering, "What do we have on our hands?"

’Signs’ is basically four movies rolled into one:

1) It's a Sci-Fi movie about evil ETs arriving. This part of the movie is a very loosely organized adaptation of HG Wells's ‘War of the Worlds’. Evil ET's appear all over the world and threaten to land and destroy everything.

2) It's a suspense thriller. In this part of the movie the cast boards up their house, ending up trapped in the basement, in order to stay safe and keep ET outside.

3) It's a comedy. There is constant ‘comic relief’ in the form of jokes and gags, which somehow are supposed to fit in with the above scenarios, but usually don't.

4) It's a thoughtful commentary on inner faith. Through all of this, our star Mel Gibson (a former priest) grapples with the bigger questions of what does this all mean, and why was his wife unexpectedly killed six months earlier (known in Hollywood parlance as "backstory").

On the whole, this is yet another example of Hollywood arrogance and ignorance. The crop circles play a pivotal role, but only as a visual prop. In the beginning we are allowed one overhead shot of a formation on Mel Gibson's (maize) farm, followed by a few clever lines of dialogue about nerds and conspiracies and bent-but-not-broken stalks. From then on the movie stumbles along, trying to unravel a simplistic plot about who makes them and why they are here. We are shown, in the guise of television news, that these formations are appearing all over the world simultaneously. In the end we find out that the crop formations are made essentially as landing locators for the ET's [wasn’t this also the plot of the TV series ‘Dark Skies’? – Ed]. We eventually see one, in the final scene - a seven feet tall green evil-eyed alien who is apparently allergic to water. The end of the film is astonishingly disappointing, with absolutely no sign of epiphany or twist.

From a crop circle perspective, with regard to the real phenomenon, this movie could not be less significant. Its value shall be in creating awareness of the phenomenon within a very large and as yet unexposed segment of the global population. Fortunately, the information contained in the film, what little there is, does not misrepresent the phenomenon too badly. On the other hand, the way in which crop circles are portrayed is essentially so unoriginal as to be mundane. The notion that they are the product of an evil source is so ineffectively portrayed that it ends up, essentially, as a benign portrayal.

There have been rumblings about to what degree might the real phenomenon be aware of, or interacting with, the making of this movie. Having seen it, I can easily muse upon this question further. What we have here is essentially a $60 million commercial for the crop circles surrounded by a petty, mundane and disappointing movie. Makes one wonder.



FURTHER COMMENTS BY THOSE WHO ACCOMPANIED OUR REVIEWER:


#1

I think this was the worst major movie I've ever seen. The only thing that it has going for it is the few crop circles it shows. Quite astonishingly, aside from the one maize circle they made, it shows very few images on the TVs people are watching (there are more in the trailer than in the film), which quickly switches to static shots of lights over cities, a la ‘Armageddon’.

The plot is illogical (my favourite is when Mel sees his first alien in a neighbour's cupboard, and he doesn't tell anyone but goes home and boards up his house), the dialogue is awful, the acting is terrible (although Mel as Mel is always OK), and I doubt that they intended as many laughs as they got. Also, I take exception to "thoughtful," as in, "It’s a thoughtful commentary on inner faith." All the film showed was that Mel had lost his, and it was just one of the many clichéd plot points that all were pasted together - indeed, "with absolutely no sign of epiphany."


#2

‘Signs’ was very disappointing. The premise is hollow and the acting doesn't manage to add any depth. Although the female cop (Cherry Jones) and Mel Gibson's brother (Joaquin Phoenix) performed admirably, they couldn't make up for the fact that Gibson's character was nowhere to be found. Far too many scenes were far too long.

Although I was somewhat impressed with the level of suspense I felt throughout the film while watching, the lack of payoff in scene after scene left me very frustrated. The film's official genre is "supernatural thriller." Uh... not! More like comedy with some thrill and suspense thrown in, and some soul-searching drama sprinkled on top. (Oh, and a little bit of sci-fi as an afterthought.)


#3

This film was an insult to the courageous spirit of humanity. Its ‘heroes’ are so completely helpless that they do not even try. It does not even occur to them to meet the challenge. We watch them hide. The best they can do with their intelligence is to make tin foil ‘dunce’ hats to wear as they sit on the sofa, while humanity is being destroyed.

The silliness of this story made me wonder why anyone even bothered with it in the first place. Why celebrate fear and helplessness? And why add to the already abundant fear and insecurity surrounding what is unknown in life. Why connect crop circles to this pathetic vision? And why use precious time and energy to create ‘entertainment’ that demeans, insults and maligns?

This film made me think about the responsibility of being creative. In that way it had value for me. But I wonder if audiences in general will be able to use this kind of input as a springboard for productive energy, or if it will just add more difficulty to an already difficult life. To my mind, this film is more than a waste of time, it's a detriment to human growth and integrity.


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Roll on the UK crop circle movie, then! – Ed.

'Signs' poster
'Signs' poster

 

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