UFO's Are Real

Director: Ed Hunt  

I believe I have said in past reviews that I have a wild imagination at times, and I find myself often distracted by a task at hand to daydream about various topics. One subject matter that I like to think about every now and then is the idea of aliens, beings from another world visiting our planet. And when I think about aliens, my thoughts more often than not turn to thoughts of what if I was to encounter aliens. I would think about my initial encounter - if a flying saucer landed on the parking lot next to my apartment building, would I flee in terror, or would my curiousity prevail and get me to stay and investigate? And if the aliens proved to be peaceful, what on earth would I talk about to them? Would there be a common ground beings so advanced would share with a species that would look primitive by comparison? But not all of my thoughts about the subject matter are so serious. For several years, I have had an idea for an alien-themed single-panel cartoon that I would have submitted to some publication almost immediately after first getting the idea had there not been a problem - namely, I can't draw. Anyway, if I could draw, the cartoon would depict a flying saucer swiftly moving through the streets of a major city, flying only twenty or so feet off of the ground. The cartoon would depict various citizens of the city screaming and running away from the flying saucer, which is firing lasers and causing great destruction. In a window of the flying saucer, you would see two aliens, one talking to the other. The talking alien would be saying, "Well, this should finally remove all doubt once and for all!"

Before I go on, I would like to copyright that cartoon idea as of the date of this movie review's publication, which is May 15, 2014, so don't you dare steal the idea unless you want a lawsuit on your hands. Anyway, back to business, which in this review is aliens. As you probably saw from the first paragraph of this review, you see that I like the idea of aliens in this vast universe of ours. But that doesn't answer some other question that has possibly popped into your mind, that being whether or I not I actually believe that there are aliens in this vast universe of ours. I'll answer that now - I think that there is a pretty good chance that there is life of some form or another on different worlds. Scientists have found with their powerful telescopes other planets many light years away that have water - a big building block of life on our world. Also, with the universe being impossibly big, it seems kind of silly to think that there is only life in the isolated part of the universe we happen to live in. But I know all too well that no matter what arguments I put out, there will be some people who will strongly disagree with my opinions. I admit that there are some pressing questions about the possibility of aliens, like why on earth they haven't made themselves known to all of mankind. Possibly they are running under some kind of law like the Federation had in Star Trek, to not interfere with a developing species. If a highly advanced people interfered with people more primitive, it could bring in some deadly consequences, like what happened to many natives of the Americas when the Europeans crossed the Atlantic hundreds of years ago.

Another theory I have come up with as to why aliens have not made themUFO's Are Realselves known to all of mankind can be compared to many activities human scientists have done. They have captured animals and studied them with various experiments, but they have never announced their presence to the entire animal species in question. Aliens may think of us as we think of animals, and that it's pointless to teach about themselves to a more primitive form of life. By now, you can probably see that I have a great interest in the subject of extra-terrestrial life, which explains why I was attracted to a feature-length documentary called UFO's Are Real. No, that is not a typo - that apostrophe does indeed appear in the title on the front of the video box, as well as when the title is posted during the opening credits. That amused me just as much as the blurb on the back of the box exclaiming, "Footage never seen before!" Well, I think practically every documentary has footage never seen before, footage shot especially for the documentary in question. Enough with the giggling, let's take a look at this documentary. It starts off with a point of view of someone drifting in space through the stars, and a narrator starts to speak. He says, "In November 1961, a secret meeting of leading government sponsored astronomers was held to estimate the number of planets in our own galaxy with intelligent life. These scientists concluded that there are probably forty to fifty million intelligent extra-terrestrial civilizations in our galaxy alone. There's ever-increasing evidence that some of these extra-terrestrial civilizations are visiting our planet."

I'm sure the narrator thought that these claims would start off the documentary with a bang for many viewers. As for me, however, this opening provoked me into asking several questions. Who exactly in the government sponsored the meeting? If the meeting was supposed to be a secret, who subsequently revealed its existence? What evidence did the astronomers have to make their conclusion? I waited for the documentary to give me these answers, but instead, the movie jumps a few seconds later to footage taken at Catalina Island in 1966. Over some hills, we see an object far away from us cross from one end of the screen to another. The narrator tells us, "You are seeing an unidentified flying object. It is not a hoax. It is real." Indeed, I was pretty sure that it was real. But what proof does the documentary have to indicate that this U.F.O. was not man made and was instead alien in origin? Well, the narrator tries to sound convincing by telling us it was shot by someone working for the Navy. Also, the narrator reveals that the film was examined by "photographic experts" that determined that the U.F.O. was circular in shape, had a 30 foot diameter, and was travelling over one hundred miles an hour. Sounds impressive... at least at first. More questions started to fill my head, like: Who were these supposed photographic experts? How did they determine the shape of the U.F.O. when it looks not much bigger than a speck in the sky? Maybe the documentary thought going into depth with questions like these would be boring, though I think it would have been interesting. Though I have a feeling that more likely than not the filmmakers thought going into depth might strain their credibility - that is, if they still have any at this point.

The narrator does mention at the end of the footage that, "This sighting is only one of the many of the pieces of evidence the producers of this film will present to verify that some U.F.O.s are extra-terrestrial spacecraft." Well, it's good to know that the producers feel some U.F.O.s are of earth origin. But why not this one? Isn't there the possibility that this U.F.O. we saw was really a top-secret government aircraft? Why automatically think that something looking and moving oddly is extra-terrestrial? Anyway, let's move on. After a stock footage montage, the narrator tells us that that astronaut James McDivitt saw a U.F.O. during a space mission, but it moved away when he tried to film it. Interesting story, but where's the proof? Sorry, on to the next subject, astronaut Gordon Cooper. The narrator tells us that he supposedly chased a U.F.O. in his fighter jet while in Germany in the 1950s. Proof? The movie instead reveals that Cooper in 1978 wrote a letter (which we get to see) to the United Nations stating his belief in extra-terrestrial life, and that these beings are visiting the Earth. Okay, we have someone who believes in extra-terrestrial life, but that's nothing new - probably you know someone in your life who believes the same thing. The documentary seems to feel that just because some astronauts believe in extra-terrestrial life is proof positive that such beings actually exist.

We then move to more supposed footage of alien spacecraft. Footage taken from a moving car in Colorado shows us a U.F.O. streak by at an incredibly fast speed. The footage is then show to us at one-quarter speed. Then one-eighth speed. Then one-twelfth speed. At any speed, the object in question looks like a bad blur, with no clear detail visible. It could be anything, but the movie is convinced that the object is extra-terrestrial in nature, telling us that it was moving faster than jet aircraft at that low attitude could move. To make sure that the audience buys its theory that the object is an alien spacecraft, the documentary ends this segment by repeating the footage (in normal speed) five times in a row. Next, we move to some shots of supposed alien spacecraft taken with single-shot cameras. While we see the still pictures, the narrator tells us that the photographer has never used the pictures for fame or for profit. Well, the fact that he released the pictures kind of makes the first point wrong, if you ask me. Anyway, the pictures of the unidentified object look remarkably like the hat Buster Keaton used to wear, which if you ask me is kind of a silly shape for an alien spacecraft. While we are watching all of these pictures, the narrator abruptly tells us that in a Gallup poll taken in 1978, sixty-eight percent of Americans polled believed that there was extra-terrestrial life. The survey also revealed that with the higher the education of any person taking the poll, the higher the chance of the person believing in aliens. So be alert: If you do not believe in aliens, you are STUPID STUPID STUPID.

Next, we are shown an official report of a U.F.O. sighting by around twelve people. What makes it interesting is that Jimmy Carter, before he was president, was one of the witnesses. What did he and the other people in his party see? We are not shown or told exactly what it was, except that the movie assures us that, "It couldn't have been a planet, a star, a meteor, or aircraft." We just have to take the narrator's word for it. Moving on, we next move to a montage of Saturn-shaped objects photographed in various places around the world, though the narrator does not go into much depth as to why the same object has been seen in many different places. Next, we finally get some original footage, introducing us to Tucson-based retired lieutenant colonel Wendelle Stevens. After a brief biography, we get some interview footage of Stevens talking about his time on an air base in Alaska after World War II, where he would frequently debrief pilots who had seen U.F.O.s while flying. Rapidly talking, he makes various claims as to what he and his fellow officers observed, from radar tracking objects moving seven thousand miles an hour to objects surfacing from under the ocean and flying into the sky. He also claims that many times the pilots filmed the objects with cameras in their airplane, but (government conspiracy!) he never got to see the footage because it was promptly shipped off to officials in Washington D.C., which never reported back what they saw in the film footage. Big claims, but couldn't the producers have tracked down some to Stevens' fellow officers so they could back up these wild claims? As it is, this is just wild stories with no proof to back them up.

Next we are shown a previously classified letter by one General Nathan Twining. Who exactly this Twining was, or what his role in this U.F.O. conspiracy was, is never revealed. Anyway, we get to see this supposed letter he wrote, and among other things he wrote he stated "The phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious" and "There are objects probably approximately the shape of a disc, of such appreciable size as to appear to be as large as a man-made aircraft". The narrator, after reading selected sections of the letter, exclaims, "This report makes it abundantly clear that the United States military knew of the existence of flying saucers and deliberately kept it a secret!" Sounds like hard-hitting evidence, but the effect is somewhat ruined by not just the unexplained Twining, but also that when we see the letter it's stated at the top that the letter is addressed to "Commanding General, Army Air Force". Just who that was is not explained, nor why if the military wanted to keep flying saucers a secret why they declassified this supposed letter. Anyway, the movie then jumps back to Wendelle Stevens, where he talks about a certain lieutenant colonel who had a U.F.O. sighting years earlier, mentioning that this same lieutenant colonel lives not that far away from where Stevens' currently lives. Just who is this lieutenant colonel? Well, Stevens conveniently never tells us. Instead, he goes on telling a wild story about this mysterious person he knows who supposedly had a close encounter with a U.F.O. while on a flying mission. Then he tells us another story about some other mysterious person he knew who had a close encounter, which, like the previous story, doesn't back up with any proof.

Most of the rest of UFO's Are Real consists of more examples of what I have described above. There are more interviews with so-called experts, as well as with people who have supposedly have had close encounters with aliens. None of these people, in all of their claims, manages to produce proof positive as to what they are convinced of or what they supposedly witnessed. In fact, there are a few instances when the claims are downright fake, like when we are supposedly seeing the hypnosis of one witness, and there are cuts to different camera angles in the cramped quarters. And when the movie at one point resorts to showing an article of Barry Goldwater claiming his belief of aliens - and that the article shown came from The National Enquirer - the documentary sinks to becoming downright ridiculous. It's not just that the so-called evidence that is presented never manages to convince the audience, it's the low-rent feeling of the entire enterprise. This is an extremely cheap documentary. There is a ton of stock footage on display, and sometimes the same stock footage is played more than once. Also, in several moments when the movie is recreating an alien encounter and not using stock footage, the movie does not hire actors or build sets to recreate the encounters. Instead, the movie uses paintings to illustrate what happened. (And the paintings, by the way, look like they were made by an art school drop-out.) In the end, the movie shook up my beliefs - not in aliens, but the idea that a thoughful and intelligent documentary could be made on such a fantastic subject.

(Posted May 15, 2014)

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See also: Earthbound, Evil Aliens, Hyper Sapien: People From Another Star