A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sci-fi thriller from director Olatunde Osunsanmi mixes supposedly real footage of alien abductees with re-creations played out by actors (including Milla Jovovich and Will Patton). That mix makes it hard to know what to believe, and it could confuse or mislead overly trusting kids (be ready to talk about telling the difference between fact and fiction). Plus, in addition to an overall sense of dread, there are a couple of shockingly violent moments -- including a bloody stabbing and a blurry scene in which a man kills his wife and children and then himself -- that could scare the daylights out of some viewers.
What's the story?
Milla Jovovich appears as herself in THE FOURTH KIND, explaining that the events in the film are based on real events. She informs viewers that she'll be portraying Dr. Abigail Tyler, a sleep specialist in Nome, Alaska, who begins experiencing disturbing phenomena during her interviews with patients. Filmed re-creations of these sessions use actors as well as video footage of the allegedly real sessions. Director Olatunde Osunsanmi also appears as himself, interviewing a haggard, wasted-looking woman who's identified as the real Dr. Abigail Tyler, who also tells her own story. Through both the "real" and re-created footage, viewers follow Tyler's story as she discovers the truth about alien abductions and begins to suffer terrible experiences of her own.
Is it any good?
A good deal of time will be spent trying to determine just how real everything is in The Fourth Kind. Skeptics will have a good time tearing the film apart, while believers will be swayed by the film's presentation. Frankly, without the "based on true events" framing and the video footage of the supposedly real incidents, there's not much here; in other words, if this had been presented as a straight fiction film about a doctor and some alien abductions, it would have been a yawner.
None of the characters really comes to life, and the film spends too much time dangling and withdrawing its details, unable or unwilling to prove or disprove anything. As a result, there's very little mystery and no sequence of events that leads to anything; the horror is ultimately too intangible and indefinite to be very terrifying. Still, the movie sometimes manages some briefly effective scares and some moody atmosphere, and it may be an effective "check your brain at the door" kind of chiller for some audiences.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether or not they think the events in the film really happened. Are the things presented in the movie necessarily factual? How could they have been faked? How can you tell what's fact and fiction in situations like this?
If the movie is a put-on, what is the effect? And what are the consequences?
Why are some characters ready to believe that aliens exist, while others deny it?
Why would aliens be interested in abducting and experimenting onhumans? Are there any similar circumstances in which humans behave thesame way toward other species?
- In theaters: November 6, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: March 16, 2010
- Cast: Elias Koteas, Milla Jovovich, Will Patton
- Director: Olatunde Osunsanmi
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violent/disturbing images, some terror, thematic elements and brief sexuality
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.