Signs (Rental) (2002)
|Category||Drama||Menu Animation & Audio|
|Year Of Production||2002|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (54:57)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||M. Night Shyamalan|
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
M. Night Shyamalan
|RPI||Rental||Music||James Newton Howard|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
If this movie doesn't give you goose bumps and have shivers running up and down your spine then I suggest you immediately check your pulse because you'd have to be dead to be immune to the edge-of-the-seat tension created by Signs. This is the fifth movie thus far in the filmmaking career of M. Night Shyamalan, whose last two movies were the highly lauded and much discussed The Sixth Sense and the less acclaimed but nonetheless equally intriguing Unbreakable.
Now, I purposely don't want to describe the plot in too much detail, as with any thriller it is better going in with as little knowledge as possible in order to get maximum impact and enjoyment. Suffice it to say that the Hess family, led by Graham (Mel Gibson), lives in a farmhouse adjacent to large cornfields. One morning, Graham awakes to find his children Morgan (Rory Culkin) and Bo (Abigail Breslin) missing from their beds and initially nowhere to be found. Hearing faint screams, Graham charges through the corn together with his brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix) in the direction of the sound and finds his children standing on the edge of a large crop circle. While initially believing that the circles were created by a group of local vandals it soon becomes known that crop circles are appearing all over the world and commentators are proposing much more sinister and terrifying explanations for the circles than well organised and coordinated hoaxers.
Signs is a well-crafted movie, albeit somewhat slow-moving at least in the initial stages. As the story unfolds, you can feel the tension and suspense building. Just who is creating the crop circles and do they have a hidden purpose? Is it all a hoax or is there more going on here?
Mel Gibson gives a nicely understated performance as the widower and ex-minister who has lost his faith as a result of his wife's accidental and pointless death. M. Night Shyamalan puts in a Hitchcockesque cameo appearance as the local vet, Ray Reddy.
If you enjoy a good thriller then this film is a must-see. I'm sure you'll be as engrossed as I was despite the fact that this was my second viewing!
There has been a bit of hoo-hah lately about the Superbit releases from Columbia Tristar. You know, they're the ones which give you high bit rates at the expense of the extras. Well folks, this disc, while not a Columbia Tristar release, definitely qualifies as "Superbit" with the bits coming fast and furious at a typical rate of between 9 and 10Mbps, as reported by my Pioneer player, with only occasional drops below this. As you might expect from the previous statements, the minimal compression used has result in a fantastic transfer.
The picture is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. To all intents and purposes this aspect ratio is the same as the film's theatrical ratio of 1.85:1.
A perfectly sharp finely detailed image is on display here which is marred only slightly, and thankfully not too often, by some mild edge enhancement. There is no low level noise to be seen and shadow detail can be somewhat lacking in the darker scenes, but as I recall this is consistent with my theatrical experience of this movie.
While the palette available in the interior shots is generally somewhat drab in nature the outdoor scenes provide a much more vivid, but still natural array of colours, all of which are accurately rendered and look beautiful on the screen. Intentional blue toning distinguishes the flashback sequences from the main story.
There were no signs of either MPEG or film-to-video artefacts with even the very common aliasing virtually absent. Film artefacts were limited to a couple of very small marks which is just as it should be for a film which is only 1 year old. Fine film grain consistent with that of the source element is frequently noticeable.
No less than 16 subtitle languages are available and I sampled about 10 minutes each of the English and English For The Hearing Impaired options and found these both to be word perfect! They are well timed and displayed in legible white text near the bottom of the screen.
This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed a few seconds before the end of chapter 12, at 54:57. It's not too bad as layer changes go but is definitely noticeable as the image freezes and the sounds stops briefly. A potentially better location comes a few seconds later at the chapter change.
There are no flaws in this excellent audio presentation. While the audio for this film is of a fairly quiet nature, there are a number of instances in which the sound level abruptly escalates in order to very effectively heighten the impact of the on-screen action.
A plethora of Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks are provided but I only listened to the English version.
I found that the dialogue was always perfectly clear and hence it is easy to understand every word spoken. There were no problems evident with the audio sync.
The musical score from James Newton Howard, in his third turn as composer for Shyamalan, effectively enhances the atmosphere created by the visuals and on first hearing reminded me more than a little of some of the music from various Hitchcock movies. A nice audio commentary would be welcomed on this disc if for no other reason than to confirm my suspicion that Howard intended to pay some tribute to the master thriller maker.
The surrounds are used subtly for the most part to provide ambience but come alive when needed in support of the musical score and in, for example, the various cornfield scenes where we are provided with a realistic representation of the corn rustling in the wind and insects chirping all around us.
The subwoofer makes it presence felt quite powerfully on the few occasions on which it is needed.
|Surround Channel Use|
If you discount an animated menu then there's absolutely no extras on this disc, not even a theatrical trailer.
The 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced menu, which is naturally themed around the movie, features some subtle animation and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded audio.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
At this point it's a bit unfair to make a comparison between the R4 and R1 versions of this disc since the R4 is currently only available as an extra-less rental disc. Here's hoping that the local sell through version will at least contain those extras available on the R1 which include:
Since the movie currently uses only 7 GB of the rental disc's capacity it should be possible to include the extras without compromising the excellent video quality.
Signs is a clever movie and the first three quarters are absolutely brilliant as the mystery unfolds and tension slowly builds towards the climax. If there's only one DVD you watch this year make it this one.
The video quality is superb, and is of reference quality.
The audio quality is equally excellent.
There are no extras, at least on this rental version.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front L&R - B&W DM603, Centre - B&W LCR6, Rear L&R - B&W DM602, Sub - Yamaha YST-SW300|