Written by: Hannah Tran | September 13th, 2022
Dreamland: A Storming Area 51 Story (Brian Moreno, 2022) 1 out of 4 stars.
As a native Las Vegan who finds charm in the strange history wrapped within the small towns that dot our desert, I assumed there would be something in Dreamland: A Storming Area 51 Story that might interest me beyond it stemming from a meme. But with zero qualifications, comedian Brian Moreno stretches his casual interest in aliens and the success of an internet joke into 90 minutes of narcissistic fluff that offers no new insight on the subject.
Starting off the documentary with five minutes of pseudo-archaeological talking points about ancient aliens doesn’t exactly lay the groundwork for a thought-provoking movie, and there is little improvement to follow. Moreno relies heavily on news footage to tell the story from the conception of the raid to its lackluster end. The material he shot is largely made up of “behind-the-scenes” struggles of the making of the film. The other part is spent on borderline exploitative talking-head interviews with a string of seemingly random people who discuss their opinions without Moreno ever clarifying their credibility.
While it’s interesting to see an outsider perspective as they experience firsthand the evolution of the raid, this perspective proves extremely limiting. Moreno creates the most unlikable personas out of his ragtag group of friends, and their terrible acting highlights something even worse than the obvious artifice: it’s not funny. Perhaps if made as a straightforward satire, this movie might be more in line with the spirit of the original meme and could be a humorous criticism of filmmakers and the dangers of unethical art, but that’s not what this is.
In the end, it devolves into something much less interesting as Moreno realizes he has no story to tell. However, instead of counting his losses and cutting what they had into a short film, Moreno puts in more filler for time and then cries onscreen about whether he’s making bad movies. I’m sure if you were one of Moreno’s buddies who had a role in its creation, you might find a few laughs in this home-video-quality movie. Not quite a documentary or a narrative and with zero vision behind it, Dreamland feels like its target audience is exclusively Moreno’s circle of friends. For the rest of us, however, this film, much like the meme it spawned from, would be better left forgotten.