Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

'The Fourth Kind' is kind of a waste

The Fourth Kind (2009)
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Elias Koteas and Will Patton
Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

After the strange death of her husband, Nome-based psychologist Dr. Abigail Tyler (Jovovich) vows to carry on his work, investigating sleep disorders. She discovers that the root cause is alien abductions, only to be targeted by the aliens herself. Or is she being targeted?

"The Fourth Kind" is a different sort of hoax movie than "The Blair Witch Project" or "Paranormal Activity." While it lays claim to being just as real, it takes a "America's Most Wanted" or "Unsolved Mysteries" approach, mixing re-actments with supposedly real video footage and audio tapes. They also decide to use a split-screen approach in many cases, trying to bolster their claim of reality by placing the reenactments side-by-side and even merged with the "documentary footage and recordings."

Of course, it's all a bunch of hooey. Just like no student filmmakers vanished in the forest and there is no demon-possessed Katie wandering the streets of San Diego, there is no Abigail Tyler and the people of Nome aren't disappearing because of alien abductions; they're disappearing because drunkenness and harsh winters don't mix (or so says the FBI).

But that doesn't mean the notion of space aliens preying on Alaskans isn't a good idea for a hoax movie. If it is, though, it didn't translate into this film. Writer/director Olatunde Osunsanmi spends too much time showing off his cleverness with split-screens and sharing his apparent love with areal shots of Alaska and overlong establishing shots to make the movie scary or even interesting. It moves too slowly to ever be truly exciting, and the characters are too drab for it to be scary, because we never really get invested in them. The one truly scary moment in the film is a BOO-Gatcha! moment that doesn't come close to making up for the boring build-up. Not even the secret surrounding the death of Tyler's husband turns out to be all that interesting. (Although it does make you wonder why stronger action wasn't taken against Tyler sooner.)

Ultimately, this is a forgettable film that is badly put together. The most remarkable thing about it is Jovovich's greener-than-green eyes.

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