Signs: no story, no ideas

March 28th, 2006

"You wanna go with me to NBC?"
"Yeah, I think we really got something here."
"What do we got?"
"An idea."
"What idea?"
"An idea for the show."
"I still don't know what the idea is!!!!!"
"It's about nothing."
"Everybody's doing something, we'll do nothing!"

There is a worry that if you watch too much television, it may warp your perception of reality to believe that what you see on tv is actually real. That's one take on it, how about a second opinion?

The culture of soccer fans is one that I've become quite intimate with over the last 5-6 years. I won't say that I've seen it all, but I have seen the bulk of it. I've talked to maybe 200-300 different people about soccer, read their opinions, had discussions etc. I haven't adopted everything in the culture, in fact there's probably a lot more that I've rejected than what I've adopted. But if you blend in with these people, one thing that will strike you is how they manage to get their whole life philosophy all entangled into following the sport. That's right, if you talk to the "real fans" (as opposed to the "plastic"/"bandwagoner"/"gloryhunter" variety) as they call themselves, what they will convey to you is that supporting a "smaller club" is more "honorable". If you stick with a small club through all the ups and downs (but mostly downs) and then the club wins some trophy, apparently that victory is so much better than winning something every year. Why, because the accumulated "suffering" has made this climax look a lot better than it really is. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? It's not religion, but it does have a similar vibe, doesn't it? "Blessed are those who suffer"? I know there's a line that goes something like that in the Bible. So basically, suffering is a Good Thing (tm).

Which brings us right back to the core of the issue. I saw "Signs" on tv last night. If you haven't seen it, maybe you're under the impression that it's a nail biting thriller packed with excitement. Well, let me relieve you of that delusion right now. It is basically a movie about nothing. Just like George Costanza's idea on "Seinfeld". Only they based a two hour production on that idea. "No story? You gotta have a story!" "Who says you gotta have a story?" Who indeed. The story is this.. two brothers live out on a farm, aliens come to kill them. Only when I write it in one sentence, you probably get the idea that the movie actually did have a plot? My bad. This is the blueprint of every scene in the movie:

We start with an annoying camera angle that doesn't really show you much and clearly isn't showing you what you want to see. Then gradually it moves onto the character, the room, some more vital part of the scene. There is no sound, it's completely quiet, no music, no sound effects. You see Mel Gibson, he looks depressed. His face is like set in stone, expressionless, he's just standing there. He says one sentence. Camera turns to Joaquin Phoenix. He's sitting down, looks unhappy, he takes a long pause before he replies with one sentence.

And then they copy/paste that onto a 2h roll of film. The thread about the aliens is actually hard to imagine being done any worse. In the 1.5h build-up they are totally paranoid and terrified about someone making a crop circle in their field. Then when they actually meet the alien, they beat him up with a baseball bat and leave him bleeding to death in the kitchen, not even making sure that he's dead. Then there's something about how Mel is a minister, his wife was killed in a car crash and he re-gains his faith at the end, total bs.

So what about the suffering? You probably know where this is going, don't you? See, Mel Gibson is in this movie. So every Mel Gibson fan probably raced to the movies to see their favorite in this production. But this is a lot like that soccer fan supporting his team when they're about to get relegated. This has to be one of the worst movies Mel Gibson ever played in, and yet the faithful fan will still go watch it. Even knowing that it sucks, he will still go see it. Because that's what fans do. And after a movie like this, they go and see.. say, "The Patriot" and they think that is a great movie. Well, if you compare it to "Signs", it certainly is.

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6 Responses to "Signs: no story, no ideas"

  1. ash says:

    I wonder if there really are Mel Gibson fans out there who'll see any film just because he's in it. Doesn't seem likely, but if there are then they probably deserve crappy movies.

  2. erik says:

    I would like to meet a Mel Gibson fan some day. I have never come across anyone of the sort... I think it would be very interesting, albeit a little disturbing.

  3. numerodix says:

    You don't think there are Mel Gibson fans? I'm sure there are, fanatics even. Every celebrity has their fans surely?

  4. ash says:

    Maybe, but if there are they're not worth paying any attention to :D

  5. erik says:

    Mel Gibson, to me, falls into the category of celebrities I can't imagine having fan clubs.

    It's like Jim Carrey and Kevin Costner...

  6. ash says:

    Oh there will be fan clubs. I mean I've been around the internet long enough to know that there are fans of pretty much anything. But my point was more that I don't think those few poor schmucks are worth caring about, even if they do waste their money on bad films.