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Bob Lazar: Area 51 & Flying Saucers

Year: 2018
Production Co: JKLC Productions
Director: Jeremy Kenyon Lockyer Corbell
Producer: Jeremy Kenyon Lockyer Corbell
Writer: Jeremy Kenyon Lockyer Corbell
Cast: Bob Lazar, George Knapp

If you're old enough to remember the third wave of UFO interest in the very early web age you know most of this story already (the first wave was the popular mania of the 50s and 60s, the second was the brief resurgence of all things space and alien related in the wake of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Star Wars).

But back in the late 90s – along with Stanton Friedman, The X Files and the revelations about Area 51 before the US Air Force admitted it existed – Bob Lazar became a figurehead of the movement, a rocket scientist and whistleblower who claimed he'd be shown alien spacecraft technology at Area 51 and tasked with figuring out how it worked. He never seemed like a crackpot, and his stories about antigravity propulsion systems (along with quite specific diagrams he drew from memory) seemed scientifically plausible.

20 years later Lazar – who's been a very reluctant media figure because of the impact all the attention years ago had on his life – still seems level headed and no nonsense. He lives in a leafy suburb in Michigan with his wife and works as a commercial research scientist, and for some reason he agreed to take part in this documentary about him by filmmaker Jeremy Corbell and producer George Knapp (the newscaster who broke Lazar's story in 1998).

While it's well enough made, there are several problems with it. If you lived through the popular paranoia about alien autopsy videos and The Greys conspiring with the US government there's nothing new to see here – Lazar said it all at the time. There's speculation he still has some of the near-magical material that came from the alien craft in his possession, but he flatly refuses to talk about it when Corbell asks (to skeptics, it's proof enough Lazar is a liar – all he has are stories and drawings).

Second, it's divided into rough chapters, each one divided by Mickey Rourke (with a 'narrated by' credit) mumbling utter tosh about truth and beliefs over cheap stock video of metaphysical and folkloric graphics and symbols, sounding like he's downed two bottles of tequila and a few Quaaludes before recording it.

Lastly, it seems like Corbell is too in love with the idea of seeing himself on camera. Loooooong sequences are of him sitting in his house on the phone with producer Knapp discussing the stuff his interviews with Lazar and other research has turned up. Even if it means the whole thing would only be 45 minutes long without it, none of it really belongs – it's stuff that should go into the making of it, not the movie itself.

If you're 30 or older, there's nothing new to see here but a hipster showcasing his filmmaking chops who had the audacity to ask Lazar to talk to him and got lucky.

And if you believe Lazar, remember the controversies about his credibility that have swirled around him like a 1990 arrest for setting up a prostitution ring, several violations for shipping hazardous materials (from his company) across state lines, and his ownership of a festival celebrating homemade explosives, jets and rockets.

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