CanVention 22 and the Aurora Awards
If It's Tuesday,
this must be TOR
Cosmonaut Keep by Ken Macleod
The Alchemists Door
by Lisa Goldstein
ed by Harry Turtledove
by Stanley Schmidt
Logic by Laurie J. Marks
Iron Grail by John Woodstock
The Sacred Pool by L. Warren Douglas
The Sky So Big And Black by John Barnes
Spaceland by Rudy Rucker
Straw Men by Michael
Sisters of the Raven by Barbara Hambly
To Trade The Stars
The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Ellen Datlow and
Murder Mysteries. Original short
story and radio play by Neil Gaiman. Graphic story script and art by P.
Journal of Pulse Pounding Narratives
& Metropolis Essay
Reign of Fire
Review by Ernest Lilley
"I see dumb people."
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Writing credits: (WGA) M. Night Shyamalan
Cast: Mel Gibson: .... Graham Hess / Joaquin Phoenix .... Merrill Hess / Rory Culkin .... Morgan Hess / Abigail Breslin .... Bo Hess / Cherry Jones .... Officer Paski / M. Night Shyamalan .... Ray Reddy
Official Site: http://bventertainment.go.com/movies/signs/
IMDB Site: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0286106
I've really enjoyed M. Nigth Shyamalan's movies so far, and though Signs adds nothing new to his resume, except Mel Gibson, it's fun, scary, and surprising...just like Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. I don't think he can get away with pulling this trick out of a hat more than three times in a row without folks catching on though.
In Signs, Mel Gibson plays Father (Don't call me Father) Graham Hess, who lost his wife when the director (in cameo) ran off the road and into a tree...with Gibson's wife in the middle. Macaulay Culkin's brother Rory plays the athsmatic geek child, complete with
telescope, tin foil hat and a book on UFOs. He's great. Abigail Breslin plays the Drew Barrymore/ET character, as the little girl Bo, who has visions, or dreams, that are
just on the edge of right. All her comments are delivered deadpan, which provied the film with much needed humor. "There's a monster outside my window. Can I have a glass of water?" Cherry Jones plays the local head cop, and she is the closest thing to a
sensible person in the film. Joaquin Phoenix plays the brother Merril, that's
brother-sibling, not as in Monk. He's not that quick, but I think we're
supposed to think that's cause he's from a small town.
M. Night Shyamalan (hereafter to be refered to as MNS) has fallen under the
spell of an addictive formula. Its semi-active ingredients involve an action
hero playing against type, a kid who sees things adults can't, the slow
dawning on the inactive hero that the kid isn't delusional, and the
surprising twist at the end...which reveals the entire movie to be a string of
deliberate pieces of misdirection to keep the audience from guessing the point
of the movie, but which, from the point of retrospective, actually lead up to
the final revelation. Which point is driven home by a sequence of flashbacks to spell it out.
Tragically, when MNS looks out over an audience of moviegoers...I think he sees dumb people.
He's made this film three times now, and it gets less surprising each time. Twice with Bruce Willis, whom we can only
imagine was getting tired of it, and now with Mel Gibson, who no doubt worked
really hard to bring his fallen father character across...but do to the
unnatural rquirements of the formula, winds up more pathetic than priestly.
MNS has evidentally reached the point in his career wheren investors trust him
completely. Like Clint Eastwood, who I wish had made this movie (see
footnote), he directed and wrote and had a significant role in the film.
Ironically, he plays the man who killed (accidentally) Gibson's wife. In real
life he plays the guy who nearly killed the film. When Gibson and his family
see MNS through a pizzaria window, River Phoenix's brother, Joaquin Phoenix, playing Mel's
brother, says..."Is that him?" Yes, it certainly is, in typical double
In order to pull off the gag, everyone (except the chief of police, a
straightforward gal played nicely by Cherry Jones) has to check their cunning at
Unfortunately, Mel's classic nothing to lose strategy is foiled by his
circumstances. Backed against the wall by the "senseless" loss of his wife,
his loss of faoth, and his need to protect his children, he becomes inefectual
in the face of adversity.
Perhaps the strangest moment in the film is whe Mel, urged to go out and act
crazy to scare off what is assumed to be local pranksters, professes not to
know how to act crazy. For a man who'se career started off with a character
named "Mad" Max, it must have been a difficult role.
Of course, he hasn't really lost his faith, he's just mad at a god that would
take so much from him and threaten to take the rest.
Sadly, not mad enough to get up and actually take responsibility for his life,
and he spends the movie sitting around in a puddle of fatalism and self pity
that no self respecing action hero would wallow in.
Did I say I enjoyed the film? Sure. It had plenty of suspense, enough scary
bits to leave permanent finger marks on my chair arm. The kids in the film were great, though they would have been better off if they were left home alone. I even checked my brain at the door. But when I picked it up on the way out...if Eastwood couldn't have done either the hero or director...mabye Rory's brother could have given some technical direction on how to
intruder-proof a house.
Footnote: Signs as directed by Clint Eastwood
Eastwood: Let me get this straight. I've lost my wife, lost my faith, my farm
is about to be run over by shadowy monsters and all I can think of is to board
up the house and hide? Where in this script does it say a twelve gauge shotgun
won't apply the laws of physics to their gray hides?
MNS: That would ruin everything.
Eastwood: Maybe these monsters aren't facing a man of god...but that
doesn't mean they aren't facing a man.