Lies And Deception: UFO's [sic] & The Secret Agenda:
I'd be wary about any DVD label with the moniker 'Reality Entertainment'. Reality is often entertaining, but when looking for hard facts, 'reality' and 'entertainment' seem an uneasy mix. When the DVD in question is titled Lies and Deception: UFO's [sic] and the Secret Agenda, the notion of reality becomes a bit fluid, so hopefully at least entertainment will be available. Yet, this padded, plodding documentary comes up a bit short in each department - and I'm one of those who wants to believe. Lies and deception indeed.
Constructed cheaply from the most basic doc ingredients, Lies fails to impress. Unattributed UFO photos dreamily float about in hazy seas of computer imagery, CGI aliens ominously spiral through the blackness, and New Age techno music enforces a soporific air. These graphics repeat ad absurdum, intersecting very low key interview segments with two subjects who are identified by name - Nick Pope and Timothy Good - but who only obliquely reference their credentials - one is an author, the other worked for the British Government.
Our sources casually dole out opinions and anecdotes in front of an inexpensive looking red curtain, while interviewer Franky Ma occasionally asks questions, but mostly utters vaguely skeptical "ohs." While at first noting that the vast majority of UFO sightings are easily explained, our experts mention an intriguing 5% of sightings which can't be explained so easily. Good speculates on 'millions' of sightings, extrapolating that hundreds of thousands are likely genuine. Individually, our subjects are careful to point out that many of these sightings come from credible, trained observers like pilots and members of the military, which lends plenty of credence to the area of study.
However, the lack of any concrete evidence in any form, (both in reality and as presented in this documentary) save for written reports and a small percentage of unexplained photographs and videos, provides plenty of anti-fuel for skeptics. But our task is not to prove or disprove, only to dissuade all but the most die-hard UFO theorists from renting or watching this dull, inept, half-baked documentary. At a scant 50 minutes, it's perhaps acceptable to have only two interview subjects, but to make that brief time feel padded and repetitive is something else. Continual inserts of the same few entry-level CGI animations (and those unattributed photos - all graphically modified) only serve to annoy, especially when some of the animations feature long-limbed aliens waggling in a fashion vaguely similar to those Internet mortgage advertisements.
Worse, overarching all animations and our rambling interview segments is a new-agey soundtrack that seems intent on hypnotizing us into accepting the many vague pronouncements. Because ultimately it's what's said and shown that makes a documentary. Since visuals presented clearly do little to support claims, it's up to Nick Pope and Timothy Good to convince us. While both certainly possess juice in the UFO world, this remains unmentioned in the documentary - if you're not already in the know, this flick is apparently not for you. Sadly, even with landmark activity such as governments releasing previously classified UFO documents, it's still down solely to eyewitness testimony. Our experts even succumb to delivering almost apocryphal second or third-hand quotes - friends of friends in the government who saw something but wish to remain anonymous, for instance. While both cite UFO activity likely known or thematically familiar to anyone watching this, the usual linguistic fancy dancing never fails to appear, both deflecting and deflating all pronouncements. In effect each sentence - and the very subject itself - as solidly if inadvertently supported by this doc, is reduced to the dynamic that you either believe, or you don't, and nothing anyone says can possibly change your mind. That's a pretty untenable position for a documentary.
Our DVD-Rom screener presents a 1.78:1 ratio image, the quality of which I can't speculate on, as the screener doesn't represent final product. For what it's worth, the screener wouldn't even play properly on my machine, (which hasn't had any problems with other studio-provided DVD-Roms) forcing me to watch it on my laptop.
I also won't characterize the Stereo Audio quality, except to say that obvious care was taken to make a somewhat interesting mix of the, to my ears, irritating soundtrack. Interview dialog is a bit echoey and soft, though.
After the 50-minute feature documentary you get an hour-long Nick Pope Extras segment, consisting of an even more simplistically filmed, virtually unedited interview with Pope. Echoes are even more pronounced, as Pope goes deeply and slowly into the minutiae of a recent release of UFO Documents from the British Ministry of Defense; for seriously hardcore UFO followers only. 25-minutes ofTrailers for similarly themed Reality Films releases, including Archetype Of The UFO. The Archetype trailer is a four minute hypno-soliloquy set to more 'groovy' animation and music, seemingly narrated by a man with a bad head cold. Wild ideas like; "the unconscious mind remains a mystery ... because we are not conscious of it," inevitably lead to the notion that if we try to understand the UFOs "perhaps we can better understand ourselves." That's trite, isn't it?
With 150% more extras than the short titular documentary, Lies And Deception: UFO's [sic] & The Secret Agenda is a curious beast. Meandering, inconclusive interviews, tacky animations and a slew of random UFO photos drifting around - plus second-tier new-age-techno music - will probably bore and confound even the most ardent of UFO believers. Though I like the idea of UFOs, and neither expressly believe in nor roundly disbelieve in them, I know bad documentary when I see it. If you had a cheap toy UFO and were standing next to a pond, you'd do worse than to Skip It.
- Kurt Dahlke
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