four, meet temudjin

it’s not unusual for me to watch more than one movie in the course of a day. like yesterday. i could have spent some time writing, or studying, or even reading, but i opted for mindless entertainment and a sojourn from the house. i took myself off to the meridian 16 where i spent an exhorbitant amount of money to see a movie that i had, initially, scoffed at.

i am number four is a coming of age alien movie. also, it’s not a comedy, like a lot of teen movies are (why are all teen movies comedies?) it was, however, very well written.

my hands! they're...glowing! also, i'm really hot!

here was my dilemma. the producer was michael bay. i have a violent hatred of all things michael bay. the man never met an explosion he didn’t like. i have to wonder if he looks over a script and says, “okay, that’s great, but could you blow up a few more buildings or cars in here? that would really make it pop!” however, the script for four was written in part by marti noxon, one of the resident writers for the TV series buffy the vampire slayer. and no one does paranormal teen angst as well as buffy did. eventually, i crossed over to the dark side, reasoning that bay didn’t direct the film, he only produced it. maybe there wouldn’t be all that many explosions in it.

(i feel the need to clarify a point here: i love explosions. and car chases. one of my favorite movies last year was the expendables. but bay uses explosions to excess, i feel, or at points where it’s completely unnecessary. kind of like when guy ritchie blew up the armory in sherlock holmes.)

an alien race, of which there are now nine, were sent to planet earth with a couple of guardians when their planet was under attack. these aliens, who look like incredibly attractive humans, are supposedly the key to saving their planet and alien race. number four, who is now calling himself john, has run from florida to somewhere in the boonies, ohio, trying to escape, again, the alien trackers called mogs. on the outside, four looks like your average abercrombie teenager model, complete with bleached tips, which is supposed to change his appearance enough to throw people off. henri, who is his guardian/pretend dad, wants him to keep a low profile. of course, four completely ignores henri’s advice and falls for the outcast-yet-hot photographer girl. chases ensue, and yes, there are a few explosions, but eventually the movie ends and sets up a sequel. OF COURSE there’s going to be a sequel.

i actually enjoyed i am number four. the script was pretty well written, hottie photographer girl had a very impressive collection of cameras (all film, no digitals, mind you) and sam (played by callan mcauliffe), the outcast kid who four also befriends got most of the best lines. the other great lines went to henri (played by timothy olyphant). i also got to see a trailer for fast five, the next installment in the fast and furious franchise, which had me grinning like a kid in a candy store. raise your hand for more awesomely bad film!

then last night, the BF and i finally turned our attention to a movie that had arrived in our mailbox a few weeks ago: mongol. the opening salvo in a planned trilogy about the life of ghengis khan (played by tadanobu asano), mongol is EPIC, with not just a capital E, but a PIC as well. focusing on his late childhood up to the point where he managed to unite mongolia, the film was probably not all that accurate (historical films usually aren’t) but was a rather excellent piece of movie making.

temudjin's horsemen of the apocolypse

the story portrays temudjin not as a fierce warlord, but more as what the mongolian people believed him to be like: a man who was a brilliant tactician, who was a firm believer in maintaining laws, and who went to war over a woman, in a time when that just wasn’t done. mostly, you get the impression that temudjin was a family man, someone who would do anything to come back to his wife, who would forgive her for doing what she needed to survive, even if it meant being a father to another man’s child (oops, did i just spoil something there? meh.)

normally when i watch movies, i’m paying attention to the acting. sometimes, like when it’s written by aaron sorkin, i may pay more attention to the script and how well it was written, or i might notice the way it’s shot, like in blue valentine. with mongol, beyond the cinematography, i found myself registering the score. and it was good. peppered with tibetan throat singing, the strings and rapid beat set against the battle scenes punctuated the images playing across our TV screen. speaking of the cinematography, the scenery was beautiful, but a few of the shots, particularly of the arial battle scenes, were incredible. they must have been shot out of a helicopter or something, they were so high up.

oh yeah, and the acting was pretty good, too. good enough that i may just have to watch some of asano’s other films. but i kept asking myself, “aren’t they feeling all gross and nasty, covered in all those clothes and dirt? when do they get to shower?”

*images via dreamworks, kinokompaniya ctb


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