Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Area 51 (2015)

Sometimes, it’s hard to tell if my mother’s being serious.  She’ll make something with broccoli and swear that I love it.  I suspect she may be trying to use some psychological trick to get me to eat it.  It may also be that because she’s seen me eat it before that she honestly thinks that I like it.  I keep telling her that not complaining isn’t the same thing as liking.  Netflix seems to have a similar problem.  They seem to think that sitting through a movie is the same thing as liking it.  Just because I didn’t set my computer on fire while watching one movie doesn’t mean that I’ll like other similar movies.

Take the movie called Area 51.  It’s a found-footage movie about a guy named Reid who wants to break in to, of all places, Groom Lake.  (Groom Lake is commonly referred to as Area 51.)  Reid brings along two friends, Darren and Ben.  Darren is eager to go while Ben doesn’t think that Reid will go through with it.  They’re a little hesitant to meet Jelena, but her father worked in Groom Lake until he started asking questions.  She has information that could be useful.

Well, she gets Darren, Reid and herself in while Ben waits for them in the car.  Amazingly, they just run past security and manage to get all sorts of shaky footage of top-secret stuff, including a UFO.  It all comes to an end when they trip an alarm and have to run out while being chased by armed guards and what I assume is a tall, thin alien.  As you might guess from the found-footage status, things don’t end well for the four main characters.

The Blair Witch Project seems to be the go-to movie for found footage and for good reason.  When it came out in 1999, it was all new and edgy and people were so scared and everything.  While movies before it had used the plot device, The Blair Witch Project was the first to get some attention.   Area 51 came out in 2015.  It doesn’t seem to have contributed much to the idea.  It’s the same concept of someone finding footage and presenting it to the public.

Lunopolis, which I liked, dressed it up as a documentary.  With Trollhunter, we at least had people making a documentary when they stumble upon the truth.  Europa Report was about a scientific mission.  Here, there’s no compelling story.  The characters aren’t really that likable.  There’s nothing special about the movie other than the topic.  You have three guys that manage to luck their way into a secure facility only to meet an ambiguous ending and I didn’t even care.

Most of it is the lack of a real story.  The first third of the movie is pure filler.  The next third is suspense.  The last third is a bunch of shaky camerawork and some somewhat interesting special effects.  I feel like we could have cut out the first half of the movie and used some minor exposition to explain how we got to Las Vegas.  (“What’s whith him?”  “Oh, he was abducted by aliens and now he’s obsessed.”)

Also, Reid manages to break into an employee’s house and steal a badge and a bottle with a fingerprint.  Ok.  I get that you need a fair amount of suspension of disbelief to get them in, but it seems odd to me that it’s possible to steal and use a badge and a fingerprint that easily.  This isn’t even accounting for the fact that they guy who was robbed probably would have reported the missing badge immediately.  (I guess he was too embarrassed that it was stolen so easily.)

And could someone please tell me how three people can walk around a secure facility without being noticed?  It would make more sense to have them caught and use the found footage during interrogation.  The only problem would be explaining how the footage got out at all, but I don’t think it would be that hard to come up with something.

I had wanted to watch the movie all the way through to see if anything interesting happened.  I was sorely disappointed.  I’d recommend skipping this one.  The shame of it is that Netflix has been recommending other similar found-footage movies.  Those, I’ve stopped watching about halfway through.  I can only hope that Netflix doesn’t count that as a like.

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