'Tis the season

Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2009

A "thank you" is in order. From me to you. No, I'm not preemptively sending out "thank you" notes to anyone who might think to send a little Christmas something to me at Juneau Empire. I'm kidding there, of course, although by all means feel free to send some goodies. No, this "thank you" is for something you did not do.

"The Fourth Kind" is playing at the Glacier Cinemas right now. It opened last Friday. And the way logistics worked out, it was pretty much the only option for this column. If you're wondering what the hell "The Fourth Kind" is, don't sweat it. Reviews were poor, and the box office numbers have been worse. It does have Milla Jovovich in it, and it is "based on shocking real events" that took place in Nome. By "based on shocking real events," they mean that they made a bunch of stuff up and maybe sprinkled in the ramblings of a conspiracy theorist or two. It is based on real events, just in the loosest possible definition of that phrase.

In other words, we Alaskans can't even really enjoy the Alaska setting because it's such a goofy plot that we'd probably just feel embarrassed to have our state's name associated with the story. Jovovich is a badass (see "Resident Evil: Extinction" or the currently in production "Resident Evil: Afterlife"), but even her presence couldn't mask the lameness oozing from the trailers of "The Fourth Kind." It wasn't a movie I was looking forward to seeing, especially since I had a Jethro Gibbs-like gut feeling a review today of "The Fourth Kind" would be valid for less than twenty-four hours.

Just like Gibbs (Mark Harmon) on "N.C.I.S.", I trusted that gut. I trusted you! And you came through. "The Fourth Kind" leaves tonight and I didn't have to go. So...

Thank you.

'Tis the season to be thankful, right? Having avoided "The Fourth Kind" isn't all we have to be thankful for on the big screen, either. Some dude named James Cameron has a project he wrote and directed and edited and starred in and did the special effects for himself opening this weekend. "Avatar," with trailers promising movies will never be the same, opens tomorrow. While I have been jumping on and off the hype-filled bandwagon for weeks, "Avatar" is definitely a movie I'll attend this weekend without any hesitation for next week's review. I'm told this Cameron fellow wrote and directed other special effects flicks like "True Lies," "Aliens," "The Terminator," and was at the helm for that sparsely attended "Titanic" movie a few years back.

I suppose I'll give him the benefit of the doubt going into "Avatar." The quick synopsis of the story for the four of you that don't watch television: Humans go to another planet to get a valuable natural resource; the natives there don't want to leave; we decide to make them; special effects, special effects, special effects, and a little bit more special effects. The natives are blue and they ride around on dragons (the details are probably a little off but I'm just trying to paint the picture for those four sheltered people I mentioned a second ago).

Perhaps the best part about tomorrow's new offerings on the big screen is that there's a good alternative for those that have to fight their gag reflex when they think about two hours of epic battles with dragon-riding blue-people. Wes Anderson's "Fantastic Mr. Fox" (based on the Roald Dahl novel) arrives tomorrow as well.

"The Fourth Kind" leaves and "Avatar" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox" arrive. Yes indeed, be thankful, moviegoers!

• Check out Carson's movie blog at www.juneaublogger.com/movies.

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