Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"The Signal" - - Call Waiting

You can't have it both ways. You can't have a "deep" movie and then ask the audience to turn their brains off when something stupid happens.

Case in point: about an hour or so into the terribly paced and unimaginative sci-fi thriller "The Signal," one of our characters has robot forearms and he punches the ground. We then see a slo-mo explosion as guards start getting tossed by the shockwave and instead of being wowed by a cool moment I was wondering how his shoulder wasn't instantly dislocated.

Why robot forearms? Why not replace the whole arm? What about the upper body?

What is the signal? Who sent it and why?

Is this Kristen Stewart?

No, not the plank of wood, the girl in front of it.

None of these questions and more are left unanswered during this dull flick. (Maybe the Kristen Stewart one would have been answered during the credits but I couldn't watch any more.)

"The Signal" is about three bland college students tracking a hacker to a shack in the middle of nowhere and being abducted by aliens. The rest of the movie involves Nic talking to Damon, a doctor/scientist played by Laurence Fishburne who may or may not have a few screws loose.

Consider this less of a spoiler and more like an act of charity.
Seriously, save your money.

Throughout the movie, I felt very turned off by the characters and the drama surrounding them. The scenes between Damon and Nic had no sense of urgency and the three pals seemed to have just met on Craigslist. There was no rapport between any of them and it seemed that the director realized that because every ten minutes there is a flashback to them having fun at the fair. Imagine watching "Outbreak" and your TV randomly jumps to "The Notebook" and you've just imagined a more cohesive and enjoyable viewing experience.

So let's get down to brass tacks: "The Signal" is supposed to be a head trip but it fails every step of the way. Did they get abducted or were they always on the spaceship? Are WE on a spaceship? If aliens recreated Area 51 on a spaceship; why? To fool three kids? Why did that dude have robot arms, another dude had robot legs, and the girl had robot nothing? Where's the rhyme and reason to that? Robot leg dude, Nic, couldn't walk without crutches at the beginning of the film so does that mean robot arm man had trouble doing handstands? Why is Lawrence Fishburne a robot? Was he always a robot? Are WE robots? Etc, etc.

"So if we're going be sitting in this room, maybe we could explain some stuff . . ."
"Uhm, ok"

The movie tries to build a mystery as Damon travels around town chasing down Nic and randomly killing people. But were they people or robots? Were they abducted too and if so, where are their robot parts? And why is Damon killing them? The answers are nobody knows, nobody knows, nobody knows, and nobody cares.

Aliens replace his legs with advanced technology but give him
back his busted New Balance shoes because "Screw You, Audience, that's why"

I was really looking forward to "The Signal" but halfway through I was reminded of "Chronicle," a much better film involving youths and alien technology. Then I began to, help me Jesus, wish I was watching "Transformers 4." When you're eating at Red Robin and thinking you'd rather be eating at McDonalds, you know something is wrong.

Skip this movie unless . . .no, no unless. Skip this movie.

"If I run fast enough, maybe I can run into a better movie . . ."



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