A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Extraordinary: The Stan Romanek Story is a 2013 documentary that explores Romanek's numerous claims of contact with extraterrestrial beings. Romanek's face is shown bloodied and bruised after what he claimed was an attack from soldiers sent to silence him. Occasional profanity includes "f--k," "s--t," "crap," "bastard," and "retarded." It's a very one-sided presentation that leaves the audience to mull over the question "What if all of this is true?" While those "UFO-ologists" who believe in the testimonies of "experiencers" (those who claim to have interacted with or been abducted by aliens) will see and be convinced by the photographs, video and audio recordings, and "expert" testimonials, it's hard to imagine anyone the least bit skeptical accepting any of this as real. Spooky music tends to accompany the "evidence." While there are some who might find entertainment in this in the same way they find entertainment in reality shows in which people search for ghosts, UFOs, and the paranormal in general, it's worth noting, as the movie shows during the end, that Romanek has been charged with possession of child pornography and faces trial.
What's the story?
EXTRAORDINARY: THE STAN ROMANEK STORY chronicles Romanek, a Coloradan who is viewed by those who believe in UFO sightings and abductions to have had the most direct contact with aliens. Alien spacecraft seem to be hovering in the sky in his videos, aliens are shown lurking behind patio furniture in photographs, an alien with an upper-class female British accent leaves messages on his answering machine, calling Romanek "Starseed" and saying how he has been chosen to tell the truth about life on other planets, and there are calls from one "Kioma," who claims to be one of Romanek's nine alien daughters. While this has made him a hero to those who believe in alien "experiencers," Romanek claims harassment from the government: mysterious, clandestine phone messages telling him to stop, physical assault from members of the military, and, most disturbingly, claims that his computer was infected with a virus, which was why he had child pornography on his computer and was charged and arrested in 2014.
Is it any good?
At times this feels less like a documentary and more like a parody reminiscent of the classic comedy show SCTV. Whereas the work of Carl Sagan was rooted in hard science, data, and rigid adherence to the scientific method to reveal to humanity that "we are made of star stuff," Extraordinary: The Stan Romanek Story serves to advance the idea that there are aliens with upper-class British accents who leave messages on Romanek's answering machine in which they call him "Starseed": a prophet of sorts picked to interact with aliens more than anyone else and inform humanity of their existence. His claims are bolstered with videos of what he says are UFOs but look like they might be perhaps WD-40 cans, photos of aliens peering through windows and peeking around patio furniture that look like amateur Photoshop work, phone recordings, and the testimony of UFO "experts," "investigative journalists," a psychiatrist, and a physicist.
If you are already a believer in Romanek's claims and see this as further evidence of extraterrestrials arriving on Earth and interacting with and abducting selected specimens of humanity, this will be further proof to bolster the claims. For those who are skeptics to these claims, the lack of real-deal scientific backing to give any of this credibility will not change minds. And while this could be entertainment for those who enjoy what goes on in reality shows centered on aliens, ghosts, and the paranormal, any entertainment value in seeing Romanek as a harmless eccentric goes out the window at the movie's epilogue, which discusses Romanek being arrested and charged with possession of child pornography. Romanek claims that the government infected his computer to silence and discredit him, and the documentary displays snippets of online articles about how such viruses exist. While Romanek is innocent until proven guilty, it nonetheless puts a terrible spin on the documentary's final query to the audience: What if this is true?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about documentaries. What are the ways in which documentaries attempting to convert an audience to the filmmaker's point of view present their arguments? How does Extraordinary: The Stan Romanek Story advance its arguments?
Does this documentary do enough to convince skeptics that Romanek's numerous encounters with aliens are real? If so, why? If not, what more would the filmmakers (and Romanek) need to do to convince both the scientific community and the world at large?
In a time when media seems to be everywhere in all forms and many points of view, why are critical thinking skills more important than ever?
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