A&E // 1996 // 50 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Adam Arseneau (Retired) // September 2nd, 2005
After watching this documentary, I wish I was alone in the universe.
In a word, A&E's Ancient Mysteries: UFOs...The First Encounters is horrendous, absolutely horrendous. Not even Leonard Nimoy narrating can save it from the trash heap. This DVD is pure tripe, and I mean that in the pejorative sense of the word; it resembles the rubbery lining of the stomach of cattle or other ruminants. Ruminants, I say! Hooved animals!
This particular 50-minute episode of A&E's cult documentary series is the mental equivalent of the Weekly World News tabloid at the grocery store check-out, striking a logical fallacy between idiocy and lunacy. Follow this leap if you can: there are dozens of unexplained architectural wonders from ancient society that defy modern explanation, combined with pictures in ancient religious texts describing odd shapes and lights in the sky, and strangely-shaped humanoids. Could they be extraterrestrial in nature? A bunch of tweaky and sweaty nerds with badly-researched books seem to think so, so insert heavily edited interview footage to that point. Cue the dramatic music, insert stock footage, and call it a day.
The hypothesis put forth by this documentary (a term I use loosely) is that the recent influx of "unidentified flying object" sightings in the last 50 years has been a global phenomena plaguing mankind since they first crawled out of the caves, and that extraterrestrial presence on earth can explain mankind's sudden technological revolution from the stone age. To prove its point, it shows countless drawings from religious texts, cave drawings, scratches in stone, monolithic head statues, early European art, etc., asking questions like "Could these be depictions of aliens from another planet?," and then simply cutting to the next shot without any analysis or challenge to these hanging statements.
Aggravatingly, this documentary reveals no stunning revelations, and never quotes any scientific research or does anything remotely factual to prove this hypothesis. It just alludes and suggests, and plays dramatic music over long-lingering shots of the pyramids, with interviewers saying brilliant things like, "But they're so big! Look at them! How could they be built by men? Through massive organized slave labor efforts? Yeah, right, like that makes any sense. It must be aliens!"
This kind of deductive reasoning makes an educated man weep. Hooved animals, I say! Hoofs!
There is nothing here, and I mean nothing, to capture the interest of anyone with even half a brain. Don't get me wrong: I'm a science-fictiony kind of guy, and it seems exceedingly arrogant to assume that human beings are the only life forms present in the universe...but this DVD just embarrasses the hell out of me. It is shlocky, manipulative, poorly written, and trashy. Admittedly, some of the architectural locations can be interesting on the eyes, but even the most apathetic and ignorant will be largely familiar with the stock footage shown in this documentary of the Great Pyramid of Giza, the geoglyph drawings of the Nazca Lines in Peru, and other such archeological curiosities, all cited as "possible" examples of extraterrestrial influence on ancient civilizations simply because the records of how and why they were built have been lost. Obviously.
Even the technical presentation of this DVD stinks. The visual quality is VHS-level, with jagged edges, blurred interview segments, erratic color tones, and poor production values overall. Audio fares slightly better, with the 2.0 track carrying the overly-dramatic and manipulative music to the speakers with reasonable efficiency, but the overall presentation of this DVD is cheap and ratty, down to the bland and ineffective packing and total lack of extra materials.
Hell, Stargate has more brains than this documentary, and is a hundred times more entertaining. I have nothing more to say about this trash. If you buy this DVD, I will drive my car to your house, take the DVD from you, smack you in the nose with it, and in a firm yet commanding tone, say "NO" until you learn your lesson. You bad dog, you.
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Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 50 Minutes
Release Year: 1996
MPAA Rating: Not Rated