As I was sifting through the entertainment news of the day, trying to decide if there was a good story that I could use to fool people into clicking on my dream journal, one bit of info caught my eye: ‘Area 51 movie’. Or, as my inner child read it: “Holy shit…Mom, there’s gonna be an Area 51 movie! Can we go??” That’s right, Area 51…the rumored top-secret government facility where the Roswell aliens reportedly have a rent-controlled sublet will be getting the film treatment.
And before every sci-fi fan spits out their Mountain Dew Baja Blast with excitement, know this: of the two Area 51 films in development, Michael Bay will be producing one. Now, if you’ve ever seen the Schmoes program, or even listened to our fireside chats in the early 1930’s, you know that it is not my role to beat up on Mr. Bay. While I’m no fan of what’s going on with the “Transformers” franchise, I still love “The Rock”…and it is clearly Harloff’s domain to bash this dude. Taking that joy away from the little fella would be like ripping up his Yankees World Series tickets, so I’ll focus this blog elsewhere. I have no doubt that, as more details emerge about these projects, our happiness will be tempered and our expectations will be beamed back down to Earth…so while I still can, I will take a moment and savor the possibilities.“Maybe I should remake all the “Rocky” movies…what say you, Harloff?”
I’ve had a long-standing fascination with outer space, aliens, UFO’s, and many other things that are fun ways to stay single. Every boy has that one summer when they are captivated by all things science fiction; it’s usually a sign that puberty is right around the corner and we use what precious little time we have before the hormones and acne hit to explore other worlds. (In one of life’s cruel twists of fate, the summer we spend looking for extra-terrestrials is the same time the girls in our class develop. As they’re getting attractive, we are busy building a huge nerd hurdle that will prevent us from enjoying their new-found assets.) Travis Walton living every boy’s fantasy.
After seeing “Fire in the Sky”, my friend Doug and I immediately put together a plan to contact aliens for the summer. (Kind of odd when you think about it; we saw a movie where aliens physically and mentally abuse an innocent man, and we want to hook up with these things? (That’s like our dads watching “Fatal Attraction” and immediately hitting on the next Hooters waitress they see.) We researched UFO sightings, watched alien documentaries and prepared our alibis in case the Men in Black showed up. Our most proactive move was shining a flashlight up in the sky, trying to beam a signal to potential visitors that they should come hang out. And if they could not wake up our parents, that’d be great.
Hearing about Area 51 for the first time was mind-altering…there could exist a place where all the secrets of the universe rested? Just the rumor of this facility seemed to lend credibilty to our search for tiny green dudes; this was a dark mystery that we could help uncover for all of mankind…provided we got our summer reading done first.
Shocked as you, dear reader, may be, we found no alien life that summer. No “grays” contacted us, and the M.I.B.’s were busy negotiating a multi-picture deal. A small consolation came in the fact that Area 51 lore was growing exponentially; you couldn’t turn on the Discovery Channel without seeing some “scientist” or ex-CIA official talking about it in a dark room.
Despite it’s infiltration into the pop culture lexicon, Area 51 has managed to remain somewhat of an untapped resource in movies. “Independence Day” has the most memorable appearance of E.T.’s summer home, and those scenes are among the best in the movie. (I know, I know, everyone loves ripping “ID4”…despite the fact that it’s more flawed than a season of “Celebrity Rehab”, it was a fun movie theater experience. The fact that I hurriedly change the channel when it comes on tv helps preserve that memory.) There’s the Roswell alien bodies, their wrecked spaceship, experimental labs…and a break room that has a Coke machine. Area 51 pops up again as the storage facility for the ark of the covenant in “Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull” (sadly, it was the probably the best part of that movie too…with all due apologies to Shia LaBeouf swinging around the jungle. I just threw up in my mouth a little bit); it’s been referenced in various video games, comic books and “X-Files” episodes as well.
Yet, like my Men’s Wearhouse gift card, it remains a largely untapped resource. That will soon change, and in a year we’ll probably all be bored to death of Area 51 conspiracy theories. The Secret Service may even admit that it’s really just a bunker where high-ranking politicians can come down from a weekend in Vegas…point being let’s enjoy this unknown while we still have it.
Michael Bay and his arsenal of explosions and special effects have big plans for this hidden-desert fortress. Most likely it’ll be a huge budget, fate-of-the-Earth popcorn flick, with Nicolas Cage giving us the tour of Willy Wonka’s outer-space chocolate facility. Regardless of how it turns out, Doug and I will be seeing it opening night, and we’ll be primed from a week of tie-in specials and “new evidence” documentaries.
But I don’t want to think about that yet; for right now it feels like it’s the beginning of the summer between 6th and 7th grade, and I have a few months to fantasize about what incredible secrets Area 51 may hold. Just remember this, Mr. Bay: there’s a reason that adolescent boys desperately want to get their hands on a Playboy magazine to see a naked woman for the first time…if a great unknown mystery is going to be revealed, it had better pay off.
METwo Area 51-themed films in development,