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  • Ancient Aliens: Season 7 – Volume 1 (Blu-ray)

    Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on July 22nd, 2015

    Overall
    Film
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    Audio
    (out of 5)

    “Millions of people around the world believe we have been visited in the past by extraterrestrial beings. What if it were true? Did ancient aliens really help to shape our history? And if so, what if there were clues left behind, something hiding in plain sight? What if we could find that evidence?”

    Ever since Eric von Daniken released his speculative book and its subsequent 1970 film Chariots of the Gods, there has been an entire field of study created around something commonly called Ancient Astronaut Theory, the idea is that extraterrestrials have visited many of our ancient civilizations. The theory continues that these visitors had a hand in shaping our development, whether it be through technology or even manipulation of our very DNA. These believers point to a world of evidence to support their claims. There are tons of images from earlier civilizations that could certainly be interpreted as depicting modern devices, concepts, or even spacemen. There is plenty of speculation that some of the knowledge and accomplishments of these peoples could not have been possible without some outside interference. There are even those who believe that aliens best explain our religious beliefs and that God himself was/is an extraterrestrial being. Whatever your own beliefs on the subject, there are certainly some fascinating points to be made. There is no question that the speculations and observations bring up some interesting queries that deserve our attention. This series attempts to document much of this evidence and the beliefs these findings have inspired.

    Once again we find a half-season release. There are 12 episodes on two discs.

    Forbidden Caves:

    “Might there be a connection between aliens and Earth’s forbidden caves?”

    There’s not a lot of talk about forbidden caves, but there is plenty of the standard speculation going on here. We start with the same India legends we’ve heard on the show already. There are paintings and texts that reveal an aerial battle with advanced weapons among the gods. This time a connection is made to cave drawings and underground cities from the ancient world.

    The main point here is a common one in Ancient Astronaut Theory, that there are indeed similar depictions in caves from around the world. There’s also a common theme among these cultures that caves are sacred and religious places. Of course, a simple explanation can be found in the fact that caves were the first shelters of early civilizations in the days before buildings. It’s logical that rites and ceremonies would be performed in these natural cathedrals.  Other theories consider caves as possible stargates and communication portals.

    The more interesting material surrounds a rather impressive crystal cave. Here there are massive crystals. Of course, the episode remarks on the storage and energy potential of such crystals. They even allude back to the 1978 Superman film and the crystal technology of Krypton. Unfortunately, this leads back to a rehash of pyramid power theories and finally to both the birth and resurrection of Christ, which many believe happened in a cave. It’s true that tombs of the era were indeed caves with rocks rolled over the entrance. This is the first I’ve heard of Christ’s birth being in a cave.

    Mysteries Of The Sphinx:

    Its origins are unknown. Its secrets have remained secret for thousands of years, and it may hold the truth behind our very existence. The Great Sphinx of Giza is perhaps the most mysterious monument on Earth.”

    This is certainly not the first episode to look at the ancient wonder of the world. The theories have been covered before. The big point here appears to be that the monument might be many thousands of years older than we traditionally believe. The estimates here suggest it’s about 10,000 years older. There certainly are some compelling arguments here for that case. But does that mean aliens had anything to do with it? The Ancient Astronaut guys say it does, because it pre-dates the civilization we know of in Egypt. The suggestion is it is from a time when aliens and humans coexisted here.

    The next big point is on the original look of the monument. These guys believe it was either a true lion head or a dog’s and was replaced by a later pharaoh. And, of course, if it is a dog, it must be an alien who walked among us when it was built. In our culture we don’t depict anything we’ve not really seen, right? May the force be with you, and live long and prosper.

    There’s also a tie-in with Mars here. Not only the face and pyramid that have been debated since Viking first flew to Mars. The recent lander has taken a photo of what some believe is a copy of the Sphinx on Mars. They also think this sister monument might be guarding an underground society still living on the Red Planet. If that one doesn’t exist, there is plenty of speculation there is/was another one on Earth facing in the opposite direction.

    Aliens Among Us:

    “In the age of unlimited access, should we be asking not only who is watching us, but from where?”

    The episode begins with a recap of the recent NSA revelations. Of course, there is a bit of paranoia today over the level of surveillance we encounter every day. We carry cameras and microphones everywhere we go with our cell phones, at least some of us do. So the natural question here is where did this technology come from, and are ET’s using it to spy on us, too?

    We go to the removed biblical Book of Enoch where he describes a race of people he calls The Watchers. They are quick to point out that Enoch writes of their arrival but not their departure. Of course, that means they must still be here. There are other legends here about “gods” teaching technology to humans.

    We end up at the doorstep of every conspiracy theorist’s best subjects: the Illuminati and the Knights of the Templar. We get the usual history lesson mingled with a little Ancient Astronaut Theory for good measure. From here it’s a small step to aliens influencing our governments at the highest levels.

    It’s back to underground cities, built to survive the Great Flood (more on that in a future episode) and leapfrog to them still being with us today. Throw in some alien abduction stories and circle around to our very real privacy concerns. 

    The Genius Factor:

    “Throughout history many of the world’s greatest thinkers have credited their genius to otherworldly sources. But could there really be an unseen force behind these incredible minds? A force of extraterrestrial origins?”

    This episode starts with examples of ordinary people who have had severe head trauma and wake up with new abilities. A guy hits his head on the pool and now can play the piano when he couldn’t before. Another wakes up and becomes the only person in the world who can hand-draw fractals. The idea here is that their brains changed enough to allow them to tap into the alien internet in the air. This collection of information is often called the Akashi Record.

    If those are too subtle for you, there’s the story of an Indian man who claims that a Hindu goddess gave him advanced math that he created with no formal training. Apparently, these modular functions are some of the most complicated math principles in the field. Or the case of Hammurabi, who developed the first written code of law from a dream.

    You can see where this is going, can’t you? It’s akin to Obama’s “you didn’t build that” line. The idea is that genius isn’t something from within, but provided by aliens who use invention to control the path of our development. They use the roots of words like genius which is allegedly derived from the word genie and inspiration which apparently means in spirit. We’re not being limited to smart people here. They apply the same idea to creativity. When I write a song, I don’t actually create it but instead plagiarize it from the cosmos alien feed. They rely on the myths of muses and other such creatures as “proof”. Am I the only one a little offended by the idea?

    Secrets Of The Mummies:

    “Mysterious burial rituals and elaborate mummification processes have been found on every continent of the planet. But why? Were the ancients simply trying to cheat death? Or could there be another more otherworldly explanation?”

    First we are treated to images of preserved world leaders, from Pope John Paul II to Lenin. The idea is to show that mummification still exists today. They describe the term as applying to any attempt at body preservation attempt. We get the requisite primer on Egyptian beliefs in afterlife leading into the common depictions of humans with wings in so many cultures. Again, it’s the idea that to depict it is to have seen it. Don’t tell Stan Lee that. There’s also the suggestion that the mummies are the crude attempt to imitate aliens coming out of hibernation chambers.

    The more shocking historical story here is of Japanese monks who go through a six-year mummification process that starts years before they actually die. It’s a lengthy form of ritual suicide that requires a particular diet and ingestion of poison. This story leads to more suggestions of communication with aliens disguised as deities.

    The most interesting theory here is actually thought-provoking. The theory suggests that Egyptians’ idea of preparing for the afterlife actually worked. That the purpose wasn’t to preserve the full body. Rather it was to preserve DNA so that the person could be cloned in the future. It’s actually not a bad idea, assuming the Egyptians understood DNA.

    Alien Messages:

    “Is it possible that throughout the world there are messages concealed within ancient texts, symbols and structures? And if so, might they have been left for us to uncover by extraterrestrial beings?”

    SETI has been sending signals into space and monitoring for replies since 1974. It’s the kind of thing that the 13-year old I was then was pretty excited about. I’m still excited, but the vast distances make getting a reply in my lifetime a bit unlikely. The episode starts with that and shows the binary message sent in 1973. Then they show a complicated crop circle design that appears to be an answer. It’s the same message but with subtle differences that would show the differences between us and them.

    The truth is that this is pretty much a greatest-hits episode. You might call it a clip show. The idea of these messages is at the heart of the whole Ancient Astronaut Theory. We’ve heard these ideas in other episodes. The conclusion appears to be that our DNA could not have occurred naturally or randomly, so aliens must have had a hand in it all.

    Alien Resurrections:

    “Throughout history there are tales of miraculous resurrections. But are there people who have really returned from the dead? And if so, might they have had help from extraterrestrial beings?”

    This was a pretty interesting episode. We’ve all heard the near-death experiences being told by those who have been clinically dead for a time. I’ll give credit that this episode doesn’t really linger on the light-and-tunnel aspects of the experiences. Here we get a pretty good discussion on what is consciousness and what might make up who we are. Two scientists claim to have discovered a quantum particle in our brain that they believe is “us”. This particle leaves when we’re dead.

    There’s an interesting creature called the tardigrade that can withstand excessive environmental conditions and resurrect itself from a death-like state after harsh conditions have passed. They were taken into space and exposed to space for 12 days. Once brought back, they were resurrected in a lab.

    Of course, there are the biblical references and Christ himself. There’s talk that there is some power in the gathering of a Catholic Mass which explains why Christ commanded to gather in his name. And what would an episode on resurrection be without zombies? They talk about the common belief in a two-soul system. One soul merely animates our bodies and remains, while the other is our consciousness and leaves. It all circles back to alien abduction stories where it loses its charm.

    The Great Flood:

    In ancient cultures throughout the world there are numerous stories of mankind nearly being destroyed by a Great Flood. But could such an event have actually taken place? And might it have been caused by an otherworldly force?” 

    Even I didn’t think they could squeeze an entire episode out of the flood, but they did. Of course, they elaborate on the Noah story, and of course, they suspect he was an alien. The idea is that aliens were breeding with Earth women and the result were creatures that had to be destroyed. So the flood was a way to wipe the slate clean and hide alien intervention. You have to work Atlantis in there, certainly.

    The interesting concept here starts with a scientific colony that believes a large asteroid crashed into the Indian Ocean about 10,000 years ago. It left an 18-mile crater that remains today. The shock sent waves crashing in all directions to flood the world. The Ancient Astronaut Theorists go a step beyond that idea. They believe the aliens used advanced technology to bring the asteroid crashing to Earth. It’s a reverse of current technologies being explored to divert a future collision.

    Aliens And The Civil War:

    “The Civil War nearly destroyed the great experiment known as the United States of America. But might there have been more at stake than we know? Could it be that preservation of the Union was ensured by extraterrestrial beings?”

    I’m a history guy, so this one was of particular interest. Surprisingly, I did learn a thing or two. The biggest piece of new information for me was that Joseph Smith predicted the Civil War in his writings 30 years earlier and that the first shot would be fired in South Carolina. The second was that General George McKellen allegedly had a vision of George Washington warning him of a hidden Rebel army. He heeded the warning and thus saved his troops. There are other stories here about ghost images of George Washington.

    One of the silliest stories is that of a self-styled spiritualist named Nellie. She wrote a book that described her sessions with Lincoln in which she channeled a spirit that guided his actions. It is even claimed the spirit provided the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. Of course, these guys instantly make the alien connection. The problem is that no other historical source has confirmed her sessions even happened. In fact, they have been widely accepted as fiction for decades. Yes, it’s true that Lincoln had dreams that foretold his death. He wrote about them himself. But that’s easily attributed not to aliens telling the future, but Lincoln’s many death threats and the passions his actions inspired on both sides of the issue. It’s also true that his wife Mary Todd believed in supernatural elements. But she’s pretty much been confirmed as crazy.

    If aliens were truly invested in the outcome of the war, why would they have allowed such bloodshed and destruction to carry on for so many years? It makes these advanced beings look pretty inept, don’t you think?

    Hidden Pyramids:

    “All across the Earth there are massive pyramids, many so old that their origins are completely unknown. But some believe there are thousands more hidden by oceans, jungles and desert sands and that once we find them, they will reveal shocking truths about our past.” 

    Conspiracy theorists believe that a China nuclear test revealed a pyramid is buried in Alaska. The story is that the United States government is aware of the underground monument and is hiding it for some reason or another. One of my favorite lines is a person here who claims the pyramid has been estimated as gigantic. You can’t make this stuff up. Apparently, there have even been congressional sessions on the pyramid with requests to make them public. But it’s not just the United States. It appears China and a few other countries are hiding pyramids from the public.

    Naturally, this all leads to rehashing the old pyramid theories in general. Are they a source of unlimited free power? That’s the Ancient Astronaut Theory, at least. So we can fold this into big oil and all those other conspiracy ideas floating around out there.

    One of the coolest discoveries is explored in this episode. There is a huge pyramid-like structure under about 100 feet of water off the coast of Japan. We get plenty of footage here and it would be a great place to dive. I would love to see this place up close. Of course, this stuff leads us back to The Great Flood and material covered just a few episodes ago.

    The Vanishings:

    “Throughout history and across the globe there have been accounts of mass disappearances that defy explanation. But did these people suffer some horrible fate? Or might they have been taken by extraterrestrial visitors?” 

    This episode recounts some historical examples of communities that disappeared without a trace. Certainly, there have been many such mysteries. I’m quite pleased that they avoided the better-known examples and gave cases I was less familiar with. This includes an Inuit village that a trapper came upon in the 1930’s. Fires were still burning with food cooking. They never were seen or heard from again. Now, I think it’s a bit too much of a coincidence that someone just happened upon them in time to see fires and food. Usually, Ancient Astronaut theorists haven’t found a coincidence they didn’t think was exploitable. This one they accept because it fits the narrative rather nicely.

    One of the silliest conclusions involves the fact that most people who disappear and are not found do so in isolated remote places. Obviously, so the aliens can do their work without so many witnesses. Or is it because these are the easiest places to get lost and least likely places to be found? You decide.

    The Alien Agenda:

    “Is it possible that extraterrestrials have intervened at key moments in our history to manipulate our progress? And if so, what is the ultimate goal?” 

    The general thinking here is that mankind are pawns in a game between two factions of aliens. There are the bad guys who want us destroyed or at least restricted. There are the good guys who want us to flourish and eventually join the intergalactic Federation community.

    The focus here is the story of the Tower of Babel. The suggestion is they were actually advanced humans building a stargate to reach the aliens who taught them their technology. The aliens thought they were moving too fast and turned us against each other so we’d become preoccupied with war and conflict to worry about reaching them. It’s an Ancient Astronaut twist on a familiar Biblical story.

    One of the more interesting aspects of the episode involves a site in India where it appears there might have been a nuclear explosion thousands of years ago. It circles back to the stories of the aliens battling in the skies of India. There is some compelling evidence that some extreme heat once occurred in the location.

    Now who doesn’t like their alien stories with some Nazis? There’s some color footage of Hitler to go with the idea that he was in communication with aliens that helped his search for an ultimate weapon. It seems UFO sightings increase in areas and times of war. This is also brought up in the Civil War episode. Again, why allow such drawn-out wars if they are guiding the outcome?

    It all circles back to the CERN collider. Ancient Astronaut theorists think we’re building our own Tower of Babel with the discovery of the God Particle. There are improvements being made to the facility at this time, and I guess we’ll find out soon if we went too far.

    Video

    Each episode is presented in its original broadcast 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The episodes look rather nice in their 1080p high-definition image presentations made possible through an AVC/MPEG-4 codec with solid bit rate numbers. Much of the footage is documentary-style location shoots that carry the obvious limitations. Black levels are solid.

    Audio

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is dialog-dominated and offers excellent audio reproduction.

    Special Features

    Nothing.

    Final Thoughts:

    I don’t really buy into most of what is reported here. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t interesting. It also doesn’t mean that the questions aren’t quite thought-provoking. We all have questions about the ancient world. Without the invention of time travel, all that we are left to do is speculate. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun and entertaining. Definitely check it out. While I did find much of this very interesting, I remain quite skeptical. I do believe life exists somewhere else. I even believe it’s possible we’ve been visited. I’m just not sure I buy the whole Ancient Astronaut Theory. But it’s all in good fun. I just wished there wasn’t so much redundant material in these episodes, often repeating things from the previous episodes. Of course, it holds down episode costs to repeat images and stories over and over again. I’m sure the show’s crew would deny it. Me, I think “it can’t possibly be a coincidence”.

    Posted In: 1.78:1 Widescreen, 1080p, A&E Home Video, AVC MPEG4, Blu-ray, Disc Reviews, Documentary, DTS HD 5.1 MA (English), Television

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