Movie Reviews

Signs (10/8/2002)

Rated PG-13 for some frightening moments

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, The Village, Unbreakable)

Starring Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix and Rory Culkin

Tragedy yanks us out of our comfort zone and leaves us with nothing to grasp but our faith and hopes. If we have no faith and don't truly hope … then tragedy brings emptiness. The movie SIGNS, available on video and DVD, raises excellent questions about what we cling to when tragedy strikes. This thought-provoking film, starring Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix, may look like just another movie about visitors from outer space … but it's much deeper than that.

The film follows a small farming family in Bucks County Pennsylvania that wakes up to find 500 foot crop circles in their backyard. Soon crop circles are appearing all over the world along with sightings of extra-terrestrial beings. Finally the news shows 14 lights in the sky- most likely UFO's. The question arises, “Is this the end of the world?”

The Hess family, having recently lost their mother in an auto accident, is once again faced with fear and who to turn to during these times of tragedy. Ever since the loss of his wife, Graham (Mel Gibson) doubts whether there is a God at all. Regardless, his family continues to look to him for comfort or a glimpse of hope in this dire situation.

One of my favorite scenes is where the Hess family is sitting on the couch watching the news, learning about the appearance of UFO's in the sky.

NEWSCASTER: (voice on T.V.) You are seeing a live feed from our affiliat down in Mexico City … What you're seeing is real. It's unbelievable. Everything they wrote in science books is about to change!

After an evening of silence in front of the T.V., Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix) finally turns to his brother Graham (Mel Gibson) and asks a question.

    MERRILL: Some people are probably thinking this is the end of the world.

    GRAHAM: That's true.

    MERRILL: Do you think it could be?

    GRAHAM: Yes.

    MERRILL: (Pausing, and thinking about what he just said) How can you say that?

    GRAHAM: That's not the answer you wanted?

    MERRILL: Can you pretend to be like you used to be? Give me some comfort.

    GRAHAM: People break down into two groups. When they experience something lucky, group number one sees it as more than luck, more than coincidence. They see it as a sign … evidence that there is someone up there watching out for them.

    Group number two sees it just as pure lucky– happy turn of chance. I'm sure that the people in group number two are looking at those 14 lights in a very suspicious way. For them- this situation is a 50/50. It could be bad. It could be good. But deep down they feel that whatever happens …they're on their own. That fills them with fear. Yeah. There are those people.

    But there's a whole lot of people in group number one and they see those 14 lights and they're looking at a miracle. And deep down they feel that whatever's going to happen, there will be someone there to help them. And that fills them with hope. And what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs or sees miracles. Or do you believe people just get lucky? Or look at the question this way. Is it possible that there are no coincidences?

The film provokes incredible discussions on how do deal with tragedy, the existence of God, the importance of family, and hope.

This film is an excellent film (although the entire film may be intense for younger audiences). It has the jumps and thrills of some of Hitchcock's best films along with a well written script, incredible performances, and comic relief throughout. This was one of the better films of 2002.

Conversation Starter
Three Simple Questions (with Answers You May Be Looking for):

  1. What are some of the messages or themes you observed in this movie?
  2. How do you suppose we—as serious Christ-followers—should react to this movie?
  3. How can we move from healthy, Bible-based opinions about this movie to actually living out those opinions?


Jonathan McKee

Jonathan McKee is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Bullying Breakthrough; The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices; If I Had a Parenting Do Over; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers on Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.

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