DOASKDOTELL MOVIE REVIEWs of  Roswell movies (and The Bermuda Triangle: Startling New Evidence; Extraterrestrials)

 

Title: Roswell: The U.F.O. Cover-Up

Release Date:  1994

Nationality and Language: USA, English

Running time: about 86 Minutes

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

Distributor and Production Company:  Lions Gate Films; Viacom, Citadel  

Director; Writer: Arthur Kopit

Producer:

Cast:   Kyle MacLachlan, Martin Sheen, Dwight Yoakam

Technical:  Regular, Video, Dolby

Relevance to doaskdotell site:

Review:

Viacom presented Roswell: The U.F.O. Cover-Up in 1994 on cable, and the film came across as a rather microscopic account of a possibly important incident in our military history, the Roswell “UFO” crash in July 1947. The story is told in flashbacks by Jesse Marcel (Kyle MacLachlan) before his death in 1986. The screenplay centers upon the attempt of the Army to cover-up the apparent “truth” that this really was a U.F.O. crash. The political motives would be clear enough: protection of the credibility of the military. There is discussion of whether service in the military requires one to hold back on the truth (“don’t ask, don’t tell”) about anything for the apparent common good, in response to orders through the chain of command. At one point Marcel asks his son to return a sample of alien metal, and the son asks “why should I have to obey; I don’t want to be a soldier.”  Well, in those days we had a draft.

 

The scenes with the aliens, including one live one, are interesting and remind one of the infamous British  alien autopsy” videos. The grays seem to have no gastrointestinal tracts and no reproductive organs or genitalia; they seem not to be autonomous individuals as we understand them.

 

But the most important value of this film is the roundabout discussion on “truth.”

 

Six Days in Roswell (1999, at the 2000 Minneapolis-St. Paul international film festival), from Benevolent Authority Films, directed by Timothy B. Johnson, is a narrative documentary (85 min, PG) of a homebody’s (Richard Cronfeld, apparently playing himself) taking a bus trip from his native Minneapolis to Roswell for the UFO festival in July 1997. In fact, the protagonist’s domestic personality is most striking: he lives at home and takes care of his ailing mom, works in an electronics shop and expects little—never having left Minnesota until this trip comes up.  Getting abducted would make him somebody. Cronfeld is homey enough to have to barter-work off his camper rental in Roswell (to avoid paying $200 a night).  

 

In 1998, I visited Roswell myself, including the UFO museums and the Roswell crash site 30 miles away. I also visited the Alien Inn near Area 57 in Nevada in 2000, and I’ll say that at a rest stop along I-8 on the way to Yuma on that trip I lost an hour with no explanation. I’ve seen one other major UFO myself, above Tonopah Arizona (above the Fry saucer city, now dismantled), a red and green triangular hovering thing back in 1978.  In 1992 I drove past the biological research lab at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.  And I visites rgw SAC museum in Omaha in 1982.  So I’ve been to these places and the film makes it pretty real.  It’s all on location, down to the shot of downtown Minneapolis from Burnsville on I-35 as they’re “on the way.” 

 

The film presents the theories—the 1994 release that the Air Force was using crash dummies, for example, and that there had been various secret Cold War experiments. There is a curious pro-government demonstration in one scene.   The mylar-metal of Jesse Marcel is mentioned. There’s an off-off-off-Broadway musical that dramatizes the aliens.  I can’t say how convincing it all is, but it’s a good introduction for the novice.

 

When will the Roswell story attract the attention of the big-money producers at Disney or at AOL Time Warner studios? This seems like a good topic for Oliver Stone, or maybe Jerry Bruckheimer.

 

The History Channel has presented a Roswell: Case Closed program, which seems to explain Roswell in terms of the Air Force experiments. However, the Sci-Fi Channel offers a two-hour film The Roswell Crash: Starling New Evidence (2002, dir. Melissa Jo Peltier) narrated by Bryant Gumbel. This film presents some recent soil or site evidence from the Foster Ranch, as well as more “eyewitness” accounts of the government’s behavior after the incident, as if the government is waiting for witnesses to die off. I would like to be able to do a detailed comparison of the two sides and come to an objective conclusion. Maybe, some day.

 

And, by the way, the “aliens” of The Mothman Prophecies (Sony Screen Gems, Lakeshore Entertainment, 2001, starring Richard Gere) seem a bit off track. (There once, in the 80s, was another sc—fi thriller called “Prophecy.”) They come up in the imaginations of the Point Pleasant, W. Va, townspeople and of one Washington Post reported, as kind of flying manta rays. And they predict upcoming catastrophes, like a bridge collapse over the Ohio River in 1964.  The film was scary but a bit half-baked.

 

The Sci-Channel broadcast a 2-hour documentary, The Bermuda Triangle: Startling New Evidence, in Nov. 2005. The documentary, using several well known network news reports, traced the familiar stories, especially the disappearance of the five Navy Avengers in December 2005. The possibility that Atlantis could have existed in the Bemini area 10000 years ago when sea levels were lower is presented. There is also the idea of a vortex with a singularity or time warp in the eye, perhaps produced by aliens. (I will accept nothing less!)  But there is little or no “new evidence.” This documentary prepares for the Sci-Fi channel miniseries “The Triangle” starting Dec 5, 2005, dir. Craig Baxley, story by Dean Devlin.

 

National Geographic has Extraterrestrials (2005, 60 min), a richly animated documentary showing how earth-like life could have evolved on two different worlds within 50 light years of so of the Solar System. One planet revolves around a red dwarf, a stable star that can last about 100 billion years. One side faces the star all the time, so the far side is frozen, and at the hottest point there is a perpetual Hurrincane Katrina. But in the temperate areas there is a kind of Jurassic park, with large parasol plants (reddish in color) and dinosaur like animals. The biological kingdoms resemble earth’s. A sea Portist has the ability to form huge slime or blob colonies that go on shore and attack animals. The other world, “Blue Planet,” is a moon of a gas giant relatively close to a sun-like star. It is about twice as big as earth and has a thick, oxygen-laden atmosphere where much life is airborne, including sea whales. Algae float in the atmosphere also.

 

See associated blog entry about the discovery of a new “Earth 2” like planet 20 light years away around a red dwarf.

 

Communion (1989, New Line, dir. Philippe Mora, 101 min, R, based on the book by Whitley Strieber, 1985) is a UFO film du jour. On Dec 26, 1985, while at a ski cabin in upstate New York, Whitley finds out that he and other family members shared a dream. (Does this really happen? Are telepathic dreams the ultimate Instant Messages?) They had been abducted, taken on board a UFO, and probed with various humiliating medical examinations. The processes would be repeated.  

  

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