Signal (2014)
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Signal (2014)

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Like most forms of artistic expression, cinema can be used in a plethora of ways, running the gamut from light entertainment to an open step must be deeply considered over the course of many viewings and much discussion. The 2014 film, ‘The Signal’, written and directed by William Eubank and coal or position of the screenplay credited to David Frigerio, this is definitely a work that has earned its place in the latter category described above. Although I pride myself neighbor to discern various nuances infused in in a film I freely admit that this one required by complete attention and a number of viewings before he could begin to fully appreciate what the filmmaker was doing here. For those who put their trust in aggregate review sites this film came across as rather lackluster. I can understand this assessment as it requires more than a casual commitment when you sit down to experience this film. After a generation subjected to quickly paced music video and educational paradigm of changing subjects after only a few sound bites of each are presented, have indoctrinated many in the modern audience to expect the story to be given in quickly presented segments that are easy to combine for an overall story. I can understand the need for this in the modern fast-paced world, but for those of us who remember the joy of finding a quiet corner, and pulling out the thick, masterfully constructed novel, losing ourselves in the intricately constructed world offers. ‘The Signal’ is certainly not on the level of a Tolstoy or Huxley, but it does require, and deserve, is significantly greater commitment to its consideration.

Jonah (Beau Knapp), Nic (Brenton Thwaites) and Haley (Olivia Cooke), of three close friends or pursuing studies at the greatly lauded mecca of cutting edge science, MIT, on a road trip to California at the behest of Haley. Haley and Nic, our couple the late be there has been an increasing strain on their relationship that this road trip is just exacerbated. Haley is certain that Nic is deliberately distancing himself from her in response to his medical condition. It’s been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy and is concerned that a relationship with him. We just hold her back from the career she was meant to have. As with any group of young people, especially those engaged in an education involving cutting-edge science, as soon as they make it stop at a roadside motel, the immediately tried to connect to the net. They are greatly upset when they find that a hacker known by the handle, NOMAD, has somehow found the location. This hacker was responsible for almost getting Jonah and Nic expelled from school, but he reached the security breaking into the universities server farm. They will become obsessed with no longer remain impassive as the hacker continues to torment them. They trace his location to a deserted farmhouse in one of the remote sections of Nevada. It is not all from the route they had planned to decide to investigate NOMAD and force him to stop them from cyber stalking them. Upon finding the location they move closer to the house to confront him. The house appears to be empty, but Nic and Jonah blackout just as Haley is quickly pulled into the air by an unseen force.

At this point, you are probably thinking that the premise of this movie is just another alien abduction flick like so many that are found in the direct to video while for overly dramatized on cable channels extensively mandated factual studies. This is precisely the point in the story that you must clear your mind preconceived expectations and open yourself up to a completely different type of story concerned with a novel set of themes. Nic awakens and notices his arm now bears attached to of the numbers 2, 3, 5 and 41. His surroundings all a stark white room with the definite appearance of a laboratory grade clean room. A man comes in dressed in a white high level hazmat suit, who introduces himself as Dr. Wallace Damon (Laurence Fishburne), the head of the "transition group". Veteran science-fiction aficionados, if we missed the shot of Nic accepting a strange red pill from the man because it definitely seems as though reality has gone elsewhere. In keeping with modern science-fiction film protocol, Dr. Damon explains to Nic that he has had an encounter with an entity described with the new acronym EBE, extra-terrestrial biological entity. When Nic is moved to another room, he hears Jonah’s voice through the vent lamenting that his ‘body feels weird’. The oddness of the circumstances quickly becomes compounded as Nic notices that his legs, once we can barely usable because of his disease, are now normal and strong. When Dr. Damon returns to continue questioning Nic young man has plenty of questions, none of which are directly answered. Among them was how Haley was doing. Many questions the doctor about condition of Jonah is told that "he was never recovered." While being transported within the facility, Nic catches a glimpse of Haley in one of the rooms. Once again subdued and restrained Nic makes a startling discovery. Both of his legs had been amputated and replaced with highly advanced cybernetic prosthetic limbs. It is obviously that the technology is far beyond anything known on earth.

Eventually manages to break out of the facility with Haley and commandeer an 18 wheeler truck. Desperately tries to find his way out of the canyon that extends around the facility, but to his dismay, it seems endless. They happen across a man dressed in a hazmat suit who turns out to be Jonah. They discover that Jonah has had his legs replaced the same way as Nic. In addition, one of his arms has received a similar upgrade. They conjectured that they are in area 51 and this is some elaborate testing procedure. The possibility of this seems particularly real when you discover that alien technology has been introduced to Haley’s spine. The desperate fight for freedom continues and although they are facing overwhelming forces Jonah offers to sacrifice himself as a diversion to allow Nic and Haley to escape. It doesn’t always plan and what happens next is after all the dénouement and finally reveal of the story. The have to judge for yourself, but even though I strongly suspected how the outcome would unfold. It was still satisfying conclusion to the movie. It had a feel of a particularly well-crafted episode of the Twilight Zone, which had is well earned reputation for the twisted conclusions.

The direction is impeccable, Nelly, a frame of the film considered extraneous. The movie immediately posterior when a quickly allows you to form a sufficient bond with the three young people that you cannot help but to be concerned with what happens to them. The young cast of relatively fresh faces having appeared in some television in a few movies. Perhaps the most recognizable for people who enjoy quality television is Ms. Cooke was a principal character in the amazing horror prequel, ‘Bate’s Motel’, where she portrays the character affectionately known by fans as ‘Tank Girl’. Mr. Fishburne has the acting ability necessary to infuse his role with the gravitas necessary to make it believable. The film tackles a few rather esoteric themes that go directly to the core of what it means to be human. The dichotomy between emotion and in logic is explored in a rather interesting fashion. Nic, being trained in the binary world of computers expects everything to be black and white. Unfortunately, the technology developed by the aliens has moved beyond that, to a point that many are now calling the singularity; where machine-based intelligence is far superior to its organic counterpart. Once this is covers that is organic self is being replaced by exceptionally advanced bionics is only means of survival is for his mind to rely on its emotions as a means of survival.

The cinematography by David Lanzenberg, maybe reminiscent of the iconic grandsire of the singularity film, ‘2001: a Space Odyssey’. The stock whiteness of the sets in the seemingly endless rows of repeated doors lures the viewer into a sort of sense of the infinite. In many ways, Nic faces a philosophical dilemma known as Plato’s cave. In this set of circumstances, a person’s view of the world is shaped by shadows of reality entirely separated from the world. In every step of the way, Nic’s worldview is carefully shaped, presented to him with little reference afforded by the outside. It’s going to take you a few viewings to appreciate some of the subtle details contained here, but it is well worth the effort. That is, admittedly significantly beyond most of the science-fiction you might be accustomed to.

bulletDeleted, Extended, Alternate Scenes
bulletBehind The Signal
bulletBrilliant!
bulletFeature Commentary with Co-Writer, Director William Eubank and Co-Writers, Consulting Producers Carlyle Eubank and David Frigerio

Posted 10/12/2014

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