What was it all about?
Jon Ronson tracks down the members of the US military who innovated novel ways to improve the effectiveness of the Army through psychic powers and invisibility.
What to say if you liked it
Barmy journalist Jon Ronson hunts down bizarre methods used by the US Army to improve their performance with great wit and wonder.
What to say if you didn’t like it
A wilfully indulgent flight of fantasy in which Jon Ronson interviews very dull peripheral members of the US Army about abortive military innovations.
What was good about it?
• Jon Ronson’s eerie presentation, that never strays into the realms of serious documentary or pithy parody, but maintains the right balance of information and humour.
• Major General Albert Stubblebein describing his efforts to walk through walls. “I didn’t master it. I kept bumping my nose”
• The silly names of the covert schemes the US Army worked on such as Project Jedi and the First Earth Battalion.
• Ronson’s skill in appearing credulous to all the theories tossed his way by the unhinged officers meant they were more willing to open up to him.
• Ronson talking about Guy Savelli’s potent mind. “Only last week he stopped the heart of his hamster just by looking at it”
• The deluded Christian faith of Guy Savelli as he imagined walking up a golden stairway to Heaven. But with his hobby of killing hamsters and goats for fun, it seems unlikely he’ll be admitted through the Pearly Gates.
• Lieutenant Colonel Jim Channon, who came over as a cross between Gandalf and Neil from The Young Ones.
What was bad about it?
• With little footage and only questionable hearsay presented as evidence it was difficult to become interested in a fairly dull subject.
• While Ronson’s innocent style may be conducive to getting his subjects to open up, it also often means he doesn’t properly interrogate them about what they’ve said.
• The films of a supposedly stunned hamster and a slightly distressed goat were poor evidence of an alleged governmental initiative.
• Because the First Earth Battalion was at its peak 25 years ago, Ronson struggled to gve his film contemporary credibility.
• When it was revealed that goat staring solider Michael Echanis’s death was covered up by claming he was killed in a helicopter crash, it only turned out that he’s died after being run over by a jeep in failed experiment.