It seems like there is less mystery about UFOs now than there was a few decades ago. That makes sense considering the amount of knowledge we now possess. Quite simply, the things that were once mysterious no longer are. Still, with all the advances in technology, it seems like there would be more people talking about how close we are to discovering extraterrestrial life. Of course, it is those same advancements that tell us how we are the only intelligent life in the universe.
These conflicting forces are what make Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind so interesting. Written and directed by Mike Mazzola and featuring Dr. Steven Greer, the documentary is a different type of UFO film. Forgoing the wild eyed theories and hard to see footage normally found in the genre, Mazzola’s piece is a much more subdued watch. This works to its benefit, though it can be confusing at times.
UFO documentaries are filled with interviews. There are constant questions (usually of the “what about” variety). These tend to wear on the audience after a while since the answers are simple. Fifth Kind also has its share of talking heads (including some surprising celebrity cameos), but the topics are much headier than expected. The documentary is as much about science and the human mind as it is little green men.
Less about conspiracy theories and hidden military bases (as expected, there is some of that, however), Fifth Kind is more about a collective consciousness. The film tries to remain more grounded in science than in sci fi. This leads to some interesting theories being sprinkled throughout the two hour (!) documentary. Yes, some of it is common sense (did you know that plants tend to lean towards light?), but that does not prevent Greer from bringing up some interesting theories.
The downside is those looking for another documentary about out of control UFO sighting stories will be disappointed. Close Encounters of the Fifth Kind takes its subject matter much more seriously. Toned down and patient, it is not trying to convince the audience that UFOs do exist. Instead, it just wants people to open their minds to the possibility.