As I'm officially on record as recommending the movie "Signs" to a few friends, I feel compelled to clarify a couple of points, so as not to be pilloried by those critics who would seek to hoist me by my own petard, based on an incomplete understanding of my perspective (and you know who you are--Tyrell Ventura).
The strength of the movie is the direction by M. Night Shyamalan. He is truly masterful in creating suspense and in triggering and manipulating the audience's emotions. He's able to evoke a slight degree of anxiety and tension, then to sustain and build on it slowly, step by step, then bring it to a rushing crescendo, through sound and images, and then finally easing up ever so slightly or letting it drop in a free fall. If you let yourself go, to be simply swept up in the provoked emotions (and you allow yourself to forget some of the logical inconsistencies and politically untenable assumptions of the script), it's literally a wild ride.
Watching this movie, you feel like you're in the hands of a master, confident that he knows exactly what he's doing and confident that you can trust his instincts and judgment. This contrasts to the cheapened feeling you get in a run of the mill Tarantino derivative. In these types of movies, you feel like you're in the hands of an immoral lunatic or a sadist, where tension is only achieved through the pointing of a gun directly into the camera lens or into the face of the protagonist and where suspense is replaced by gratuitous violence and gore. I guess some people appreciate this, but it's come to repulse me.
Another pleasure of the movie was the subtle and not so subtle references made to sci-fi classics of the past, including Night of the Living Dead, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Predator (which is not a classic). This respect for the history of the genre, which will be noticed only by those who respect such history themselves, adds context and texture and intimacy to the whole experience of watching it.
Once again, the movie has some serious flaws, which aren't fully realized until the last 10 minutes. I don't want to give anything away, but I think it’s fair to state that the conclusion is a very blunt and literal presentation of the mysterious phenomena portrayed in the rest of the film. As most of the movie dealt with issues of faith, and how different people can interpret the same set of facts in different ways, that's how the movie should have ended as well. The existence of aliens on Earth should have been left intentionally ambiguous at the movie's conclusion, and the actions of the main characters throughout the film should have ultimately been judged in this spirit.
After the movie I came to realize that while watching it (at the Grandview, and flanked by a beautiful red-headed Bridget Fonda look-a-like, sharing MY popcorn) I was so enamored by the movie I wanted to see, that I was overlooking evidence that it was not entirely leading up to where I thought it should go. That is until the last 10 minutes, whereby it all fell apart, and I couldn't fool myself any longer. This kind of doppelganger movie experience does prevent me from giving an entirely fair review to what the actual movie consisted of and it may prevent anyone else from appreciating it as I did. But since I ain't no Roger Ebert, and nothing is really depending on my accurate recommendation (except for the hard earned 7 bucks of all those intelligent enough to listen to me), it stands as it is. Welcome to MY world (but stay away from my popcorn).