Bob Lazar: Area 51 & Flying Saucers is a documentary film that’s strictly for fans on the subject but doesn’t delve deeply past rehashing old stories.
I think we are all suckers for a good conspiracy story. Netflix has hundreds of streaming documentaries and even a show that offers Top 10 conspiracies on a wide variety of topics that are compulsively watchable. There’s nothing wrong with a little indulgent fantasy, letting your brain power down to take some much-needed rest from the stresses of everyday life. What makes Bob Lazar: Area 51 & Flying Saucers different is that it focuses on a man who essentially, through his credibility, career, and life out the window, sets out to expose what he claims is the truth about what he saw when working at site S-4 near Area 51, just outside Las Vegas, NV.
Bob Lazar, a former government physicist with masters degrees from MIT & Caltech, decided to go on a local television news station in Las Vegas, NV to verbalize a claim, on camera, of reverse-engineering an alien spacecraft for the US Military. The only problem with that is that not only has the United States Government said they’ve never heard him, even MIT and Caltech also have issued statements they have no records of him attending their institutions. While this all seems like a claim by a con-man looking to cash in fame, book, or film deals, this all feeds into my childlike yearning to get my Mulder on and expose the cover-up with Scully at my side (Right now I’m convinced the impossible burger is going to turn us all into zombies, but that’s a story for another time).
Director Jeremy Kenyon’s documentary film can be the streaming equivalent of comfort food. The issue I have is not even really with the content; people are free to make their own judgments. Lazar wants to chronicle a man’s struggles and why he went silent for 30 years after his initial claim but abandons that premise (not to mention Lazar’s IMDb page has 16 credits from appearances on the subject through 2017). Kenyon takes an unusual mix of almost trivial montages with YouTube-like conspiracy videos with a serious look at Lazar’s reputation and disclaiming attempts of others to discredit him that mixes as well as oil and water. There is also the issue of Mickey Rourke, who narrates the film, but comes off almost cartoonish. While I welcome a bit of fun and over the top narrative style from Rourke, who is guiding us through the film, if he isn’t taking it seriously, why should we?
Bob Lazar: Area 51 & Flying Saucers does have some credible people on its side; like the local reporter, George Knapp, an Edward R. Murrow Award, Peabody Award-winning reporter, who broke the story and has remained a staunch supporter. The film offers evidence that Lazar’s name was on government documents and even on local news coverage in the mid-80s, that he was indeed there and can be verified online; then again, issues on more, say, down-to-earth subjects have fake news on the internet, can we really trust anything we see or read anymore? That there lies the problem of how the documentary glosses over its subject’s criminal history (Lazar was caught up in aiding and abetting a prostitution ring in 1990), denying the viewer an equal treatment of both sides. A good example of this would be Tom Meadmore’s The Spy Who Fell to Earth, a documentary film available on Netflix, that does a wonderful job questioning both sides of its narrative subject that makes a stronger film because of it.
Trust in the government and cover-ups have been at an all-time high since probably Watergate. While I want to be on the side of the conspiracy theorists, that’s always more fun than being a Debbie-downer, I’m the one who thought the Cigarette-Smoking Man and Alex Kryeck where misunderstood government heroes. Having driven past AREA 51 and having never seen an alien, a space ship, or any Men In Black, I did find a goofy gift shop that I’m sure will be selling DVD’s of Bob Lazar: Area 51 & Flying Saucers at some point. This documentary film is strictly for fans on the subject but doesn’t delve past the rehashing of old stories. Anyone looking for a serious look at both sides of believers and the squelchers, find Peter Jennings Reporting: UFOs – Seeing Is Believing, that offers an equal treatment look that only the best documentaries do.
M.N. Miller has been a film and television writer for Ready Steady Cut since August of 2018 and is patiently waiting for the next Pearl Jam album to come out.