FIRE IN THE SKY
Review by Gordon Justesen
D.B. Sweeney, Robert Patrick, Craig Sheffer, Peter Berg, James Garner
Director: Robert Lieberman
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Length: 109 Minutes
Release Date: October 19, 2004
In order to fully
accept the story that is told in Fire in
the Sky, you will have to seriously challenge your beliefs on whether or not
life does indeed exist beyond our planet. I like to think that such a thing
exists; therefore I very much accept the alleged fact based details that the
In 1975, an
ordinary man experienced something that none of us could possibly imagine.
Arizona resident Travis Walton had gone missing for several days. At least,
that's what most of the townsfolk suspected. Despite an intense rescue
operation, no sign of him was found. When he was eventually discovered, his
story would devastate those who knew him best.
in the Sky, adapted from
Walton's own recollection titled "The Walton Experience", chronicles
the course of the day Walton (D.B. Sweeney) mysteriously vanished. The story
opens on the night in question as Walton's best friends/work associates fearing
for their lives after witnessing something beyond description. The ring leader,
and Walton's closest friend, Mike Rogers (Robert Patrick) insists they go to the
police and tell them what they claim to have saw.
As they are
interrogated by state policeman Frank Waters (James Garner), the men give their
side of the story, which reveals that their friend may have been very much
abducted by a UFO that appeared to have crashed somewhere in the Arizona
mountains. Waters, of course, refuses to believe their story. It doesn't help
their case when the rest of the town starts to suspect that they had something
to do with Travis' disappearance.
Travis is soon
discovered, and right from the moment of discovery everyone who knows him senses
a pivotal change in him. He was the most normal guy one could ever hope to meet.
Now he is deeply traumatized, and constantly being haunted by nightmares of his
experience. Just a flash of light in his face is enough for him to recollect
what happened to him.
The two most
exciting sequences in the movie are indeed the revelation involving Travis'
abduction. The first is an early scene where Travis and his friends are driving
home from work in the evening, where at which point Travis sees what appears to
be a red fire projecting from the forest. He gets out of the truck, apparently
astonished with glee at what he is seeing, His friends beg him to get back into
the truck, only to then witness a huge beam of light knock Travis to the ground.
This is the incident that precedes the opening of the movie.
The second is
easily the capper of the movie, where in which we experience, along with Travis,
the gruesome details of the alien experiments done to him. How intense is this
sequence? Let's put it this way, I'm surprised the film was able to garner a
PG-13 on the basis of this scene alone. Without delivering any detail, I can
tell you that it is bound to get a reaction from anyone who sees it. This is
probably the most realistically accomplished sequence involving a frightening
encounter with alien intelligence.
Even though the
too-neat of an ending does leave something to be desired, Fire in the Sky is a most effective fact based drama. It had an
impact on me when I first saw it back in 1993, and that impact is resonant when
watching it eleven years later. And as for Travis Walton himself, I for one
think he's very lucky to still be standing.
Overall, not an
awfully bad anamorphic offering from Paramount. The presentation does actually
turn up a series of nicely done images, some in dark scenes and others in light
scenes. The abduction sequence itself is grand looking moment. The only flaw is
that there are sparse moments of noticeable grain which last longer than they
should. Other than that slight disadvantage, this is an otherwise solid looking
The stellar 5.1 mix
did a great job of reminding me just how intense this movie was. The suspense
laden opening of the film is a good indicator of what's to come, audio-wise. As
for the two big sequences of the movie, be prepared for a fully dynamic-level of
sound. I never saw the movie in the theaters, but I'm very sure that it could
never come close to the quality of this strong presentation.