Minority report: ‘Signs’

Apparently, most people like ‘Signs’, Mel Gibson’s latest film. An rating of 7.5 is illustrative. But I don’t. Why? Because it’s simply a bad film. I am right, and the others are wrong.

Has anyone ever heard of vampire style bad-guy aliens able to fly zillions of miles in warp-speed-vehicles with the intention to kill humanity only to give up and fly another zillion of miles back home because they could not manage to enter a room protected by wooden boards nailed to the door? Can anyone believe that mind reading aliens in possession of mind blowing technology that would, according to the film, change everything ever written in (human) science books – but who are, unfortunately, lethally allergic to water – could actually be stupid enough to go on a largescale manhunt on a planet that largely consists of water without ever thinking about how to protect themselves? I’ll stop here, gentle readers, for your and my brain’s sake.

It’s a bad, bad film. And it’s even worse because of all the religious allusions trying to tell the viewer that God has accorded humanity a special status even with respect to the rest of the universe. Everything is taken care of in a big masterplan in which we are lucky enough to be on the right side. As long as we believe.

When Mel’s wife dies in a car accident she utters strange last words. Because of her early death, Mel loses his faith, quits his position as reverend and becomes a farmer only to discover the extraterrestrial signs in his field (which, as a footnote, the aliens use as navigational devices, because their mind blowing technology is unable to provide sufficient electronic landing information). Of course, neither his wife’s death nor her last words, nor his son’s asthma, nor his daughter’s eating disorder (she puts half-full glasses of water everywhere), nor his brother’s talent to play baseball are actually random – they’re the most important pieces in the puzzle leading to the defeat of the last alien vampire, gracefully left behind by his fellow invaders to die and thus help end the film. After his dead wife’s last words prove to be the clue to killing this last stupid alien, Mel can rediscovers his faith and resume his position as a reverend.

So what is the gist of the film, for those of you who will wisely decide not to see it. The truth is I don’t know: If this was supposed to be a film about the special bond between humanity and God then the clearly stated complete predetermination of events does not make any sense. Predetermination cannot create a bond, not even dependence. It reduces agents to puppets of their principal in any context.

If this was supposed to be a film about a lonely widower fighting alien vampires to protect his family, then the religious allusions seem misguided.

And if this was supposed to be a film which wants to scare humanity with the abrogation of free will, then it is helpless. Matrix did a much better job there. It’s a stupid film which does not know what it wants. Not that this would reduce its box office potential, although, in an ideal world, it should.

But that’s just my opinion. And it’s apparently a minority report.