There was a famous photo of what appeared to be an alien craft in 1971 by aerial surveyors working on the Lake Arenal Project.
- A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo -



Published Monday, October 12, 2020

New UFO film breaks little new ground

Movie review by James Brodell

Costa Rica has had a long flirtation with unidentified flying objects. There was a famous photo of what appeared to be an alien craft in 1971 by aerial surveyors working on the Lake Arenal Project. There have been many similar reports.

In 2006, A.M. Costa Rica published photos of strange clouds that generated similar speculation. Then there are the unexplained booms in the night.

Those here who are looking for a good historical review of UFOs should make sure they catch “The Phenomenon,” a new documentary directed by James Fox. Unfortunately just like on the History Channel,  the film lacks any clear resolution. The film's popularity is linked to disclosures by the U.S. Navy that strange white objects had been captured on shipboard radar and in the cameras of jet fighters.

The Phenomenon” suggested strongly that these and other sightings are visitors from alien civilizations.

This 2020 movie is not to be confused with the 1996 movie calls “Phenomenon,” starring John Travolta, in which the lead character develops extra sensory perception due to a brain tumor.

“The Phenomenon” includes a detailed history of mostly U.S. UFO sighting starting with the famous Roswell, New Mexico, event of 1947 in which UFO enthusiasts say an alien craft crashed. The new movie touches on many but no all famous sightings.

Featured is former U.S. senator Harry Reid, who pushed for government investigations of UFOs when he was in office. Reid told the camera that many more disclosures are coming from the government about UFOs. But he stops short of saying what these are.

The movie provides evidence that these unexplained observations have been under close military study since the administration of the younger Bush. It also outlines the earlier efforts by the U.S. government to set up Project Bluebook, which was designed to find everyday solutions for strange sightings. That project has been discontinued.

On its website the film calls itself “the most credible and revealing film ever made about the long-standing global cover-up and mystery involving unidentified aerial phenomenon.”  Another featured individual is Luis Elizondo, former director of the Pentagon’s Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. Also interviewed was physicist Jacques Vallee, who was the model for the French researcher in Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Vallee also is listed as a senior advisor to film.

The U.S. Navy stimulated renewed interest in UFOs earlier this year when it released copies and confirmed videos from 2004 and 2015 that showed oval white objects dancing through the skies off the California coast. The New York Times had reported on the events in 2017.

“The Phenomenon” stops short of explaining these oval objects. But Elizondo and others state that there are no U.S. government projects or projects known from other nations that could be responsible for these flying objects.

Former president Bill Clinton is featured saying that the U.S. government might hold information so secret that even a sitting president might be excluded from known about them.

Vallee reported that he has vials of fragments found at various UFO visitation sites and says test show they are not natural. He is supported by microbiologist Gary Nolan of the Stanford School of Medicine who said he used an ion beam imager to study the atomic makeup of some of the particles. Nolan said the metals were unlike anything found on earth, based on his study of the metallic isotopes.

The movie concludes with interviews with some of the 64 individuals who were school students in Ruwa, Zimbabwe, in 1994. An event then is cited in the movie as the most significant close encounter in modern history. The interviews with the young adults were laced with videos taken about the time the students said they had close contact with almond-eyed individuals who arrived in a flying saucer. Some of the adults said they believed the visitors were promoting environmental action.

The film closes with the speculation that humans may be sharing the planet with an unknown other and urges viewers to push governments for full disclosure.

For $16, the film is an interesting download from Amazon, but like the History Channel presentations the viewer is left with many questions and a feeling that producers did not disclose all the evidence even if to do so would dull the thrust of the movie.

Editor's note: Mr. Brodell, founder and long-time editor of A.M. Costa Rica, can be reached at: