By: John Gholson
I'm not sure why, but Overture Films has chosen to downplay the "based on a true story" aspects of their high-profile new satirical film The Men Who Stare at Goats. The film finds Ewan McGregor as a journalist looking for a story in Iraq who stumbles across a former member (George Clooney) of a special platoon of psychics employed by the U.S. military. While many moments in the film seem outlandish and ridiculous, they become even more jaw-dropping with the knowledge that the film is based on fact.
Author Jon Ronson first explored the topic of remote viewers and psychic super-soldiers in a three-part Channel 4 television documentary, The Crazy Rulers of the World, the first part of which ("The Men Who Stare at Goats") he turned into a book in 2004. It's amazing to see the very real people behind the First Earth Battalion (renamed the New Earth Army in the film) recounting the bizarre stories that are brought to life on the big screen in the quasi-fictional movie by writer-director Grant Heslov.
It's a must-see if you plan on catching the film, and absolutely fascinating. There's a cynical side of me that would like to assume the members of the First Earth Battallion all are crackpots, but there's too much fact mixed in with the weirdness for me to dismiss it outright.
You can see the first episode of Jon Ronson's original documentary, in its entirety, over at SciFi Squad.