Review by Sean Boelman
Directed by Michael Mazzola, Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind is the newest documentary featuring ufologist Dr. Steven Greer. Little more than two hours of conspiracy theory and pseudoscience, this painfully dull film proves that not everyone needs access to a competent camera team.
Serving as a sort-of follow-up to two other documentaries featuring Greer, Sirius and Unacknowledged, the movie takes a look at the CE-5 community that is working to initiate close encounters of the fifth kind. Admittedly, there are some interesting ideas deep within the film, but they are buried beneath so many layers of deceit and fallacy that they are nearly impossible to recognize.
Much of the movie consists of so-called ‘evidence’ gathered from CE-5 events in which people try to initiate contact with extraterrestrial beings. The end of the film proposes a call to action, highlighting some of the normal people and amateur ufologists around the country and world who are part of this movement to try to figure out what (or who) exists in the universe beyond what is known, and quite frankly, they all come off as ridiculous.
Yet no one comes off as poorly in the movie as Greer himself. More often than not, he seems like a false prophet. Although the amount of dedication Greer has put into his research is admirable, one can’t help but feel like the amount of profit he can make from commercializing his theories in a documentary such as this is the real motivating factor for much of it.
There is also a weird portion of the film that leans heavily into the conspiracy theory aspects of ufology. More so than any other part of the movie, this segment is pretty awful. The amount of mistrust that these supposed “whistleblowers and scientific experts” have for the American government goes from something logical to outright contempt.
On a technical level, the film does a decent job of arguing its position if its arguments weren’t so difficult to swallow. For those who already subscribe to Greer’s theories, this movie’s flashy visuals and sleek nature are sure to reinforce their pre-existing ideas on the topic. Otherwise, viewers will be able to see right past this facade.
That said, Greer and Mazzola seem much less concerned with making a legitimately interesting documentary, instead focusing on a failed attempt to educate the ‘unconverted’. As a result, the film is a two-hour-long info dump, much longer than any documentary about aliens has the right to be, and extremely boring in turn.
Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind is not a pleasant movie by any means, but it’s almost humorous to watch the level of ridiculousness that proceeds on screen. This film has a very small niche audience that will appreciate it, and otherwise, it should be entirely dismissed.
Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind is now available on DVD.