You know, it's a shame. I bet there are plenty of talented film school students and really good screenplay writers out there that could've made ten times the movie Groom Lake was. But because William Shatner got cast as Capt. Kirk decades ago he's the one with the big bucks, and he's the one who gets to make movies. I'm sitting back, watching the sci-fi channel and hear there's going to be a movie about Groom Lake, which is a dry lake in Nevada at Area 51 and I get excited. I should've been preparing for serious disappointment. Let me get the flaws out of the way:
1. Late in the movie, Dietz and Andy break into Area 51 to get back Andy's girlfriend, Kate, and maybe even find a real live alien. This movie is only going to be watched by sci-fi fans, so those making it should pay a little bit of attention to accuracy. Since much isn't known about Area 51 the story could take plenty of exciting liberties with the plot as long as it's within reason. However, what -is- known about Area 51 is that two guys and a semi cannot break into Area 51 and sneak into facilities containing alien technology. You don't have to be a huge alien buff to know a plan like this just won't fly. I mean, I can't even drive to the gates of a PA Air National Guard base without being greeted by a soldier toting an M-16. Also, the fences surrounding Area 51 are not electrified. If anyone associated with the production of this film knew anything of Area 51 or even bothered to visit the damned place, they'd know this. And given that anyone would be able to penetrate the fenceline it's downright crazy to think that a suit of cammo with an MP armband would fool anyone or that, having entered the compound, they'd be able to get into any building without some sort of clearance. Oh, and apparently they use iMacs at Area 51. Alright, so the plot is juvenile and the details were ignored. If you're into sci-fi, you'll get that sometimes.
2. I'm no big time film guy who dissects every scene for the value of it's interior framing or the colors used in the shot, but I know what's bad, and, even from a purely technical aspect, this was bad. I've heard praise for a few isolated shots in the movie that are really beautiful on the digital medium the movie was shot with, and I agree, they're beautiful. However, most of the really great shots are that of the Arizona desert. Congratulations, Bill Shatner, you've made the desert look beautiful. For the most, I found the fact that this movie was digital overly distracting. The shots inside the vehicles looked like footage from a reality tv show and the shots inside the Area 51 base or in town reminded me of colors I'm more likely to find in an Andy Warhol gallery. When I see a sci-fi movie set in the desert I'm expecting to get that old weathered truck stop feel. I want to see lots of faded colors and a lot of brown. They did a good job with putting in plenty of crotchety locals who drive pick up trucks and harass visitors, but the bright colors in the camera work just ruin things for me. At the beginning of the movie, Andy and Kate (the main characters) are tearing around in a jeep. Andy, for no apparent reason than to be a show off, decides to go off road and climb a rocky hill. The editor must have fell asleep at the wheel on this one because the trek up the hill looked far from dangerous and the camera work looked like a cheesy dramatization from Unsolved Mysteries (as did all the action shots). But, of course, the jeep ends up rolling so we have to cut to really terrible stock footage. After that, we find the two lovers at the bottom of the hill, but they've thrown up a lot of dust. It must have been the combination of the light and the digital camera but I swear it looked like someone had thrown a bunch of Tang in the wind. Once the Tang cloud clears they start climbing all over one another. Just flat out lame. I'm not knocking digital movies. Maybe I'm just saying all of this because I'm not used to movies being shot like that, but I just didn't like it. The shots were mostly lame, and the editing sucked. All this, plus the special effects are lame too. Sci-fi movies are built on special effects! How could you mess that up?
3. As I sat at home watching this, I got the idea to write my own sci-fi screenplay and sell it to the sci-fi channel and make a whole lot of money on a cheesy screenplay written by an amatuer. I figured I couldn't do any worse. It was only until I realized that the story and the direction was by William Shatner did I really become annoyed. This movie simply wouldn't fly if it didn't have William Shatner behind it probably hemorrhaging money. Granted, the movie was low budget, but I can't imagine anyone who would put it on the air. The story is just plain bad and the screenplay writing not much better.
4. No movie should have a character named Captain Morgan unless he's in 18th century pirate attire and wields a cutlass and a cocky smile.
5. Shatner gives himself a juicy part in the ending because, after all, it's his movie. So, even though we've seen very little of him in the beginning, he gets to be the one to save the alien and, against the orders of the Pentagon and a typical sniveling policy nerd, he becomes the maverick and orders an alien ship that looks like a jellyfish to take off with the alien on board. Of course, no one in the control room has a problem with this. So the ship takes off and the big wigs are going nuts and as Shatner is leaving someone tells him that he's going to be fired and so on and he says, "You want all this [area 51]? You can have it." And he tosses him the keys ... to Area 51(keys!?). Apparently a nice zinger delivered with a Kirk-esque badboy smile can get you out of a court martial.
All in all, if you really want to be entertained by good film, don't watch this. But if you want to get a bunch of friends together a poke fun at cheesy camera work, bad acting, foolish plotline, and all the other typical aspects of a B-Movie, this is an absolute gem. Had a good time watching it, but it sure won't win any Academy Awards.
Review by matthewdark from the Internet Movie Database.