(2002, rated PG-13) Mel Gibson (Graham Hess), Joaquin Phoenix (Merrill Hess), Rory Culkin (Morgan Hess), Abigail Breslin (Bo Hess), Cherry Jones (Officer Paski), Ray Reddy (M. Night Shyamalan), Patricia Kalember (Colleen Hess). Music: James Newton Howard. Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan. Director: M. Night Shyamalan. 106 minutes.

Tags: Horror, Suspense, Kitsch, Stupid

Notable: Apart from indicating just how bad Shyamalan can be, not a helluva lot.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Well, there’s two hours of my life that I won’t get back.

Former minister Graham Hess (Gibson) wakes to find a 500-foot crop circle in his cornfield. As worldwide reports show similar, nearly identical crop circles all over the globe, people begin to fear that this is not a hoax, like the ones in the early 1980s; aliens really are here, and no one knows if they’re friendly or not. After sightings of ships and actual aliens, the world throws itself into panic, and they fear that the human race may be run. Hunkering down in his farm home with his brother Merrill (Phoenix) and two children (Culkin and Breslin), Hess must find a way to survive the possible “end times” without the power of his faith. Continue reading “Signs”

The Andromeda Strain (1971)

(1971, rated G “but may be too intense for younger children”) Arthur Hill (Jeremy Stone), James Olson (Mark Hall), Kate Reid (Ruth Leavitt), David Wayne (Charles Dutton), Paula Kelly (Karen Anson), Ramon Bieri (Maj. Manchek), Kermit Merdock (Dr. Robertson), Eric Christmas (Sen. Phillips), Ken Swofford (Toby). Music: Gil Mellé. Screenplay: Nelson Gidding (based on the novel by Michael Crichton). Director: Robert Wise. 130 minutes.

Tags: Sci-Fi, Suspense, Alien Contact

Notable: All of the tech that you see was directly from then-current-day laboratories, showing we’re further ahead than we all thought before; actor Arthur Hill really used the mechanical hands himself; James Olson, usually cast as a “bad guy,” gets to be the hero for a change.

Rating: ★★★★★

A NASA probe, Scoop VII, has crash-landed near the tiny town of Piedmont, New Mexico (Population: 68). An Army team of two sent in to find and retrieve the satellite finds a town full of dead bodies, and they too are swiftly killed through no identifiable means from a distance. A biological agent is suspected, creating a “Wildfire Alert” – an immediate priority to scramble a specific team of scientists to gather at a huge underground facility specifically created to combat a biological emergency of this type. Jeremy Stone (Hill) petitioned the government to create it a few years earlier, citing a failure to avoid contamination at the NASA lunar lab; now, the facility, and the scientists who have been called, are about to be put to the test. Continue reading “The Andromeda Strain (1971)”