Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Fourth Kind

Today I sit here with a big smile on my face. I have that smile because I am doing some research and laughing at what many are now doing regarding the legitimacy of the film The Fourth Kind. I find it humorous because while some applaud certain films like The Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity, some are upset who thinks the makers of The Fourth Kind are trying to get one over on the movie going audience. Here is all I know; I felt Paranormal Activity was highly overrated, obviously false while following a tired formula, I come home interested enough in The Fourth Kind to do some research and see what is true and what isn’t. This first person account does something many other first person account movies have forgotten about, it uses some originality that causes some of the audience to believe the story they see on screen.

The premise of The Fourth Kind is we are seeing footage of a study and research regarding Alien Abductions and tragedies that have occurred in Nome Alaska. The filmmakers reportedly mix in real footage with dramatized scenes. The style of the film, whether legitimate or not, is unique, fresh and even with the subject matter, entertaining. Without speculating on whether the events or some of the footage in the film is legitimate or not does not change the interest I had when leaving the theater as to the reality of the film, or the desire to do some research, neither does it change the intriguing questions the movie raises about not just aliens, but evil and the likelihood of the existence of God, and ultimately what type of God is God.

As mentioned earlier, The Fourth Kind is a first person, supposed real account of events in Nome Alaska. One of the things that makes this different, and leaves some room for speculation is the reported style of mixing in supposed real footage alongside dramatized footage via split and sometimes quad screen views. It draws us into the story, and the directorial style of following the split screens keeps our eyes moving in such a way that at least my brain was working constantly trying to figure out the difference between reality and entertainment, searching for truth and reality or fake footage with the sole intent to entertain. First time director, Olatunde Osunsanmi does a credible job of mixing in footage while at the same time following the supposed real psychologist, Abbey Tyler, played nicely by Milla Jovovich. We also have brief appearances of Sheriff August played by Will Paton. Both do a credible job, and the supporting cast also play nicely to the story and questions raised by the film.

One of the concepts presented in the film is the visitation to earth some 5,000 years prior to Christ of apparent aliens. Many have seen the footage of concepts of this nature but one of the things the film does is it raises the question of God in relation to the alien visitations. We see this by the usage from the aliens of ancient, dead languages, where when interpreted speak specifically of a savior and of God. In one interesting scene in the movie, Dr. Tyler is asked if she thought the beings were in fact God. She states no because she felt they were void of hope. An interesting concept, if God exists, then hope has to be present and a part of his personality. This is consistent with the aspects of hope presented by Jesus and some of the writers of the New Testament.

An interesting question of faith is also addressed in The Fourth Kind. How receptive are individuals in accepting the stories of devoutly religious people when those stories are outside the realm of faith? We see Dr. Tyler for example praying around the table in Jesus name, yet she is ultimately challenged to tackle concepts outside of her faith, and her experiences lead her to conclusions that are not only outside the norm of her faith, but outside the norm of many within society. The challenge of accepting those who are different is presented in a challenging way that at least caused me to think. I even noticed the questions on national message boards like IMDB that has people asking the question of can Aliens coexist with Christianity? This is an interesting question that seems to be a part of the movies intent, but also shown is the challenge to foundational beliefs and ones ability or desire to hold onto those beliefs when they are challenged.

While the challenge to belief regarding aliens may be outside the norm or possibility of reality for many people of faith, at one time, so was the concept of the ability of the earth being round, the earth revolving around the sun, or even the possibility of a person of non Anglo decent having a soul. Many things once held as truths have changed with time. There seems to be ample evidence of the reality of UFO’s, Aliens, or even Demons as presented by some. The Fourth Kind while not adequately answering those questions did at least have me and others in the theater, entertained and questioning the possibility.

I liked this film, much more than Paranormal Activity. As I spoke to some people as we were leaving the theater, they felt the same way. There are some aspects I would have liked to have seen addressed, but I suspect that to address some of those areas in the movie would have answered the questions many are asking. Personally I doubt the story has much legitimacy to it, but that doesn’t devalue the questions it raises. There could have been better character development and while the editing was choppy, it fit the style. Overall I was rather pleased and think that most that enjoy these types of film will be as well.

On a scale of 1–10, while not perfect, The Fourth Kind was better than Paranormal Activity, so if I added a 2 to the score for Paranormal activity, The Fourth Kind would have a deserving 8.

To view the following just click on the video, if the video don't appear, just click on the link:

A Featurette on The Fourth Kind:

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