Why "Signs" isn't as bad as you think it is

For anyone that isn't aware, Signs is a sci-fi mystery movie that came out in 2002. It stars previously well-loved actor Mel Gibson, Joker legend Joaquin Phoenix, Abigail Breslin, and Rory Culkin. This film was directed by controversial twist legend, M. Night Shyamalan who is known for other movies such as The Village, The Sixth Sense, Glass, and The Visit. While twists are expected from Shyamalan at this point in time, he was still able to surprise audiences when this film came out. While it is still well regarded as a creepy melodrama, the twist ending has fallen out of favor with modern day movie audiences. If you have not yet seen Signs, I highly recommend watching it before reading the rest of this article.

*Spoilers ahead*

While Signs is certainly a decent work of fiction, the problem audiences most have with it is the twist ending. The alien invasion story is not new to modern day cinema, with Aliens, Independence Day, and E.T. all coming to mind as well-regarded science fiction movies. The difference between these films and Signs is how different the aliens perceived weaknesses are. While fire and bullets are a common weakness to pretty much all organic life forms, the main weakness of the aliens in Signs is water. This is annoying to audiences because for a lot of us, water is easily accessible. It gathers in large bodies in the wilderness, it pours from our taps, and our bodies are 45%-75% made of water according to The earth itself is 70% water. Why would aliens who are considered to be far more intelligent than humans go to a planet that is essentially made of the very thing that is toxic to them?

With this same mindset, my thoughts turn to our own endeavors regarding space exploration. Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon on July 20th, 1969. While technology at the time was certainly impressive, there were several risks involved that are still present today, even with our advances in engineering. Humans need oxygen to breathe, and with the moon containing no atmosphere, there is no oxygen present that we know of. We are continually venturing out into space as often as we can knowing fully well that the smallest technological malfunction can result in instantaneous death for all humans outside of the earth's atmosphere. How is this risk any different from aliens having a weakness to water and still venturing out to a planet that is almost entirely made up of water? Humans are literally venturing out into the most hostile environment possible for our given weaknesses, and while tons of research is being done to work towards the safety of all persons involved, accidents do still happen.

This idea of space exploration being dangerous to humans is explored in several other forms of media as well. In the Aliens prequel Prometheus, a human team of astronauts along with an android venture off to a distant planet that they know virtually nothing about. The scientists make several risky decisions, such as removing their helmets in what they perceive to be a safely oxygenated area and interacting with the planet's native species of plants and animals, which goes just as well as one might expect. These decisions are considered natural "human error" as it is considered human to make mistakes, and yet it seems that aliens invading earth despite being allergic to water is still considered to be a more stupid decision.

While my opinion still stands that the twist in Signs isn't a terrible twist, it is certainly an underwhelming one, with a glass of water dumping onto the alien's face being the final nail in the coffin for the intergalactic tourist. The underwhelming isn't uncommon with Shyamalan's work with the ending of Glass and The village being prime examples, but Signs could easily be considered a lazy means to end an otherwise compelling story. Despite this shortcoming, Signs is still worth a watch for any science fiction fans looking for a heartfelt story about faith and family.

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