When I watched Who Killed Lt Van Dorn I was hoping for something different. I don’t always read the descriptions of the documentaries I watch. Maybe I am partly to blame for not enjoying this one as much as other people could.
Who Killed Lt Van Dorn sounds like a case of a military person getting murdered. Something like I Am Vanessa Guillen was my expectation. Instead, this was more like Flight/Risk about how Boeing cares more about money than human lives. Capitalism is such an a-hole.
This documentary focuses on a specific kind of military chopper and how dangerous it has been. Despite pleas from Lt Van Dorn and many others about safety issues, nothing has been done about it. Unfortunately, inaction leads to Van Dorn being killed while on the helicopter in a training exercise. The 53E has only ever claimed lives, over 100 of them, in non-combat situations. It seems painstakingly obvious that there is an issue. And yet that a-hole called money continues to win and claim lives.
Why Who Killed Lt Van Dorn was not a great documentary
The story is certainly there for this documentary to be compelling. Unfortunately, I found it to be on one of those topics you need to be highly invested in to really appreciate. The documentary could have benefited greatly from a little more historical perspective of flying military crafts. A little more context could have gone a long way into capturing my attention.
I was fully not expecting a legal battle documentary based on the title. The question proposed in it about who killed Wes Van Dorn is directed less at an individual and more at an entity. Whose decisions within the military caused him and so many others to lose their lives?
For a newer documentary, Who Killed Lt Van Dorn was low-budget and slow. I don’t mind the slow burn of a true crime story or even one that looks like it was done by community college students. I went to a community college so I can appreciate the lost art of having little artistic ability. For a documentary on this subject, it did feel like it was missing speed.
If I made this documentary, I would have been more focused on what I believe the main priority of the military is. Show how the military cares more about buying big weapons and advertising than it does about safety. It could have been more compelling and brought in a different kind of audience. Movies like Top Gun have a lot of power for impressionable young people. They don’t see the dark side.
Who Killed Lt Van Dorn has a title that’s more conceptional. The documentary failed to answer a lot of questions or even find a suitable solution. All the while, there was little entertainment factor. Not every documentary needs to be Tiger King, but they should at the very least keep the viewer interested.
Overall Score: 3 out of 10
I wouldn’t recommend watching Who Killed Lt Van Dorn. You can save time and read stories about the case instead. There wasn’t anything visually compelling enough from this documentary that a five or ten-minute read wouldn’t be able to provide.
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