Monday, May 18, 2015

Area 51 Review

Area 51 Review
Area 51 has always been a place shrouded in secrecy. I am not saying that for affect of  this review, literally nobody knows anything about the place. Apparently, it is run by the United States Air Force and it could be a base where they experiment with new weapons and technology, but not even that is confirmed. This sparked lots of controversy and conspiracy and maybe, just maybe, the United States government is hiding alien life forms there. You may all call me crazy after you read this, but I attended a cross country camp at the University of Wisconsin with a friend before my sophomore year of high school. Walking back to the dorm rooms after a early evening workout, a decent size group of us noticed something in the sky. Something that was hovering in the sky, not like a plane or even a helicopter. No, this thing was crude in its movements, but what was shocking was that when it turned to one side, there was a spike. Or, at least, it looked like a spike. The colors on the object were purple and orange, weird colors to have on a plane or helicopter. I had always been skeptical of aliens growing up, no matter how much I liked alien movies, but after that point, a part of me always believed that we are not alone in the universe.
Like I said, you don't have to believe me if you don't want to. I know what I saw, and so do the people I ran with, whether they forgot or not. So, I do have a soft-spot when it comes to alien lore and alien conspiracy theories. I love it. So I was excited when I heard about this new movie "Area 51," which hit video on demand over the weekend. The film was directed by Oren Peli, the director of the first "Paranormal Activity" movie. Experiencing "Paranormal Activity" in a theater full of horror-fans is something I will never forget the rest of my life. It was a great experience and Oren Peli's name was the one  thing that really drew to me to see this movie.
What set me on edge was that this movie has been dormant for a few years. It began in 2009, then there were some script re-writes. Then Peli replaced the director. In 2013, Peli was apparently "tinkering" with the movie during the editing process. What I am getting at is that this movie took a long time to finally get released. Usually, that is a bad sign, but this is from the guy who gave birth to "Paranormal Activity," could it really be bad? Did he just want to make the best movie possible?
Nope, "Area 51" is nothing new. It is nothing fresh. As far as found footage movies go, it is more of the same. There is an hour set-up, followed by thirty minutes of supposed "scary stuff" and then it ends. Of course nothing about the movie gets explained, and of course (SPOILER ALERT!) all the characters we watched run around from a threat the audience never sees, get killed. Which leaves the audience wondering how their footage got out into the open in the first place. Seriously, if there was ever a big leap in logic in one of these found footage movies, its "Area 51." How does a governmental, top-secret facility just decide to release this footage? Who is actually watching this footage?
The film begins with three friends going to a party, I would use character names and actor names but honestly, it doesn't matter. The actors first names are the names of the characters, to make everything more real. Of course, anybody could act in these found footage movies, since all your doing is running and yelling, but more on that later. One of the friends mysteriously disappears at the party and is found on the road on the way home by the other two friends. Why did this friend disappear? It never fully answered (seriously, what the fuck?), but it evidently forced this person to want to break into Area 51 and snoop around. This is exactly what happens. The next hour is spent on the three friends gathering gizmos that will help them get into Area 51, all of it seems silly, but I can forgive some minor logical silliness in order to get a good payoff. But that payoff never comes.
Once the friends actually make it into Area 51, they do some snooping, get figured out, then start running and yelling. Everything that is revealed is never quite explained and its just ideas that have been circling around Area 51 for years now. Nothing is done to further explore the material, or put a unique spin on the conspiracy theories that surround Area 51. The movie works more a checklist of things people have talked about, and those things are never discussed or explored with anything resembling depth.
Basically that's the movie. One friend gets chased by alien, even though we never get a good look at the alien. But its pretty clear that it is an alien. That's just a shame that so little was done make this movie more engaging and more interesting. I can't believe that the original director of one of the best found footage film of the last decade could barely get me to raise in eyebrow. The last half-hour was meant to be powerful, but I never felt anything toward it. What a big waste of time. This movie spent so much time in post-production for such a bland finish? Can somebody tell me why?

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