Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fire in the Sky

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Fire in the Sky - 4 out of 5

I've always had a deep fascination with the prospect of life on other planets.  I'll admit it, I believe that intelligent life exists on other planets within in our unfathomably immense universe.  To say otherwise is completely ridiculous.  Face the facts, there's a lot of space in...well, space.  However, I will say this, I don't believe we've ever been visited because, and I'm only going from our own perspectives and limitations on technology for the human race, but the tech aspects for intergalactic travel feels impossible.  That isn't to say that some little green men out there two galaxies down haven't figured it out but I just haven't seen any conclusive evidence other than doctored photos and grainy camcorder footage to make me believe that aliens are visiting Earth, abducting Nascar fans and probing some rectums.  

So, having this fascination with other-worldly life and the fact I get a nerd-on for sci-fi films, I will never pass up a film about aliens (although, sometimes I regret this impulse, like I did when I saw Avatar).  In 1993, Fire in the Sky came out and I was really excited to see it because the idea that it was based on real life accounts (whether you believe in alien abduction or not) is something too cool to pass up in my world.  I ended up seeing the movie and enjoyed it but haven't watched it in years and decided to re-visit it on DVD.  And I have to say, it holds up.

"Ah, what a beautiful skyline--What?  Oh no, they're coming back!  I think it's because they forgot to probe me!"

For those unfamiliar with the story, Fire in the Sky is based on the real-life accounts of a man named Travis Walton (played by D.B. Sweeney) who makes the claim he was taken by lifeforms from beyond the moon.  One night in 1975, Walton along with his best friend Mike Rogers (played by T-1000 Robert Patrick) and some fellow loggers were out on a job in the forests of Snowflake, Arizona.  The job lasted well into the night and on their return trip to town, they spotted a glow on the horizon they feared to be a forest fire.  When they traveled closer, what they saw was a giant, unknown vessel hovering in the sky.  Walton, exited the vehicle to investigate before the ship grabbed and tossed him.  Fearing him dead, the rest of the crew fled before Rogers returned to discover that Walton was gone.

Despite being labeled as nutjobs, the men were honest about what they saw and the town, as well as law enforcement, were dubious and tried to convict the men of murder (if the proper evidence to such could be collected).  However, 5 days after his disappearance, Travis mysteriously returns and was in bad shape, both physically and mentally.  Travis recalls nothing about where he's been...until the memories of that fateful night come roaring back and he's forced to re-live the hell he went through on-board the alien craft where he was tested on...thankfully for him, the aliens didn't bother with the rectal probing.

One thing that struck me almost immediately when viewing this on DVD (compared to the VHS I used to watch it on) was the crystal clear picture the film provided--I fully realize this isn't a new thing for DVDs but I remember the ship being dark and hard to see when I first saw it but watching it transferred onto the disc, I can now see the ship in amazing clarity and I have to say this, it was beautiful.  I can no longer blame Walton for getting out of the truck because I think I would have too.

"Okay, turn the light off, I'm up, I'm up."

Watching the film again, after all this time, I get a new appreciate for Robert Patrick's performance.  It was this role that garnered the attention of The X-Files' creator Chris Carter to have Patrick replace Duchovny on the series at the end of its run.  Patrick's performance is unlike anything else he's ever played--a man who is not only going through the trauma of possibly seeing his best friend die but having to deal with the ridicule and accusations of the police, his fellow townies and his family and the fact that he must deal with the fact that the only ones who believed him about the events were the men who shared it with him.  One particular scene stands out when he pleads with the locals at a town meeting where they all share the same idea that Rogers and the others murdered Walton.  

Forget the aliens, Patrick made this movie.

Re-watching this film years later, I also can better appreciate how realistic the film made the idea of alien abduction be.  Most films that involve storylines such as this come off as extreme fantasy, filled more with whimsy and awe than reality (unless it's a horror kind, then it's your pants doing the filling, mostly with the poop that just got scared out of you).  Take, for example, Close Encounters of the Third Kind...great film, very entertaining but all reality is stolen from the film as we get the rockfest at the Devil's Tower at the film's end.  Even the beloved E.T. (and I'm fully aware that the two examples I'm providing are just from Steven Spielberg) loses any realism as the alien engages in comic relief.  Fire in the Sky does away with this and provides an alien abduction and sequence within the ship that feels almost real...and in doing so, makes the film very unnerving to experience.  That says a lot since, if you've actually read Walton's account of the abduction, the scenario tends to fly off the rails as he claims, at one point, he actually piloted the alien's ship.  In fact, if you've ever read his account, it makes you wonder if Walton and friends weren't lying and trying to create the next big action film...except it ended up being a great drama instead.

"Does it hurt when I do this?  No need to scream, human.  A simple 'yes or no' will work."

Fire in the Sky is probably the greatest, most realistic tale about alien abduction that's based on presumably real events.  There have been other movies in the past claiming the same, like the Christopher Walken-starring Communion but even that one starts to get a little weird and feel like it was just a playground for a fiction writer to let loose some steam.  Even more importantly about Fire in the Sky is that the movie is more about the humans involved in this event and not the aliens.  Other than Travis' actual abduction, the aliens aren't seen until the final moments of the film and what you get, in my opinion, in something better than generic sci-fi but quality drama.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.