Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Stick with The Third Kind

The Fourth Kind (2009)

“I’m actress Milla Jovovich. I play Dr. Abigail Tyler…”

With those words - heard at the start of the picture - I knew I was going to hate this movie. Instead of a simple card reading, “Based on a true story” or “Inspired by true events,” the filmmakers chose to play this goofy game by having its lead actress come out and say she’s an actress playing a character based on an actual person, but one whose name has been changed to protect her identity (you following this?).

The problem is it’s all a bald-faced lie. There is/was no Abigail Tyler, nor any of the other “real/pseudonymous” people “portrayed by actors” in this movie. It’s like the marketing department took over from the filmmakers. It’s a gimmick, and a badly thought out one at that. Moviegoers have seen enough footage on the news to know that shaky, videotaped scenes feel "real" or documentary-like, especially when compared to the the slick movie footage. But instead of clarifying things, all the onscreen titles and pronouncements merely come across as muddled and confusing, as if the filmmakers weren't sure of what they were telling.

It’s a simple enough tale of mysterious abductions in an Alaska town. Tyler, the town shrink, starts seeing similarities in the stories of disturbed patients, which leads her to believe – naturally for a trained, card carrying, diploma-on-the-wall psychologist – that aliens are abducting folks. I guess those anal probes go down better in cold climates?

The movie has tremendous fun with its audience by employing split screens showing the “actual” videotaped patient sessions with the movie’s “reenactments.” Also whenever a main cast member shows up in the movie, we get helpful titles like, “Will Patton: Actor, Portraying Sheriff Fred Gravy” or whomever. Egads. You just want to yell, "Stop it!" at the screen (which I did many times).

Someone tell me why the “actual videotape footage” of the “actual patients” always goes scrolling up into electronic gobbledygook just when things start to get interesting? I’m talking about patients levitating interesting. The aliens aren’t around. There are no implants we know of to interfere with the camera. The doctors all witnessed these levitations, but we’re denied the actual footage, even in the “fictionalized movie version,” not just the “actual videotape.”

It’s all just a big tease, leading to nothing. And who likes being teased in this manner?

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