History Channel // 2009 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dylan Charles (Retired) // August 1st, 2009
What if life on Earth began in outer space?
About sixty years ago, Erich von Daniken wrote Chariots of the Gods, which had the notion that aliens visited Earth and influenced primitive peoples to build pyramids. The History Channel, with von Daniken's help, further explores this idea with the foremost researchers and scientists in the field of ancient alienology. As the back of the box assures me, this will be a balanced investigation.?
Ignoring, for now, the ideas contained within this particular documentary, it's simply not very good. I never thought I'd say this about a History Channel special, which usually blitzes through a subject at lightning speed with colorful graphics and CGI animations of Romans sacking Troy with ray guns, but Ancient Aliens dragged to an unbearable crawl in places. They talk for almost half an hour about the drawings in Nazca, a full quarter of the show, and then sprint full speed past the ancient computer. There's not much one can say about giant drawings of monkeys, except that one has no real clue why these pictures are there. Which is pretty much what they do for that half hour: Explain, ad nauseum, that they have no clue what these drawings are or why they were created, but that most definitely aliens were involved.
There really doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to how the show is arranged. As far as this theory goes, there doesn't seem to be much there and they stretch that not much into a full 90 minutes. Hell, if they cut out all the sections where ancient alien proponents talk about how they've been shunned by scientists and rational people, that'd drop the running time to an hour. We get it, most people don't dig the theory. How about more information about what this theory entails?
The long and short of it is there isn't much there. All they show is that ancient peoples did some pretty amazing things, which they couldn't possibly have done on their own, so it must have been aliens. There's no real evidence, no real attempt to show that there was actual alien intervention, just people marveling in wonder at ruins that are so impressive that they must have been built with extraterrestrial means. They do show pictures and artifacts that look like our pop-culture notions of alien life, but that's hardly conclusive. Ancient peoples also drew pictures of men with dog heads and giant serpents with wings. It seems a little odd to me to focus on the drawing of the man with large eyes simply because he looks the most like an X-Files gray.
As for the "balanced investigation," the skeptics do get a moment to speak, but not much. In some cases, what they say is completely disregarded by the narrator seconds later. Someone was describing the functions of the ancient computer (navigation and checking zodiac signs apparently) and immediately after came the grim narrator intoning, "What possible reason could ancient people have for building this computer?" Navigation and checking zodiac signs! We just went over this!
There are no extras, subtitles, or other language tracks. Looks like the History Channel just heaved this one out the door as quickly as possible.
Ignoring any and all personal feelings regarding ancient aliens, Ancient Aliens has done little or nothing to gain any followers. It dawdles, hems, and haws, and, in the end, admits it has no real evidence for what it says and takes a hell of a lot of time to do it.
Ancient Aliens is guilty of wasting this judge's time.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Not Rated