Fire in the Sky (1993)

They Took Him.

Today’s review was inspired by nothing more than random fancy.  I had nothing else that I felt I wanted to review for the day as I had just taken care of a requested movie yesterday and felt like I would make today a “Me” day.  So I decided to browse around my Netflix instant queue to see what it had to offer, and today’s movie caught my eye.  I’ve never seen today’s movie before, but I’m certainly aware of many of the people acting in it.  I felt like I had heard of the movie before and that it was regarded as a classic, but as I check it now on Rotten Tomatoes, it appears as if fans and critics both agree that it’s nothing special.  Well I watched it anyway.  Will I agree with them?  We’ll find out in my review of Fire in the Sky, based on a book by Travis Walton, written by Tracy Tormé, directed by Robert Lieberman, and starring D.B. Sweeney, Robert Patrick, James Garner, Craig Sheffer, Peter Berg, Henry Thomas, Bradley Gregg, Noble Willingham, Kathleen Wilhoite, Georgia Emelin, and Scott MacDonald.

Five loggers walk into a bar and the bartender says, “Why the long face?”  The answer is that their friend Travis Walton (D.B. Sweeney) has gone missing.  Worst joke I’ve ever heard.  Well Lieutenant Frank Watters (James Garner) wants to get to the bottom of it.  He sits down with the five loggers – Mike Rogers (Robert Patrick), Allan Dallis (Craig Sheffer), David Whitlock (Peter Berg), Greg Hayes (Henry Thomas), and Bobby Cogdill (Bradley Gregg) – for questioning.  They tell the officer about how they went into the woods to cut down some trees.  On the way back, they see a strange light coming from behind the tree line that they describe as a “fire in the sky”.  As they drive closer, they find a UFO hovering above the ground.  Walton gets out of the car and goes closer to investigate, despite the protests of the rest of the people in the truck.  Turns out they were right because a beam of light shines on Walton, seemingly killing him.  In a panic, the group leaves, but Mike later goes back and is unable to find Walton.  Needless to say, the cops do not believe their story.  And neither does the rest of the town.  But is it true?  And where’s Travis?  You’ll find out if you watch the movie.

There’s a very good chance that the cover of this movie just made me think it was Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  I still haven’t seen that movie, but I imagine it was better than this one.  That’s not to say this movie was bad, but I also wouldn’t say it was great.  It was just okay.  A fairly typical UFO abduction movie with a couple of interesting things to set it apart a little bit, and it also gets some steam from being based on a “true” story.  I like the setup to the movie because it actually makes us think there’s a possibility that the whole thing is made up.  The five guys walk into the bar with looks that make you think they just accidentally raped and murdered someone, talking about agreeing on their story before the cops show up.  Then the story is told in flashback for a little bit, but you don’t really get a feeling about what actually happened until later in the movie, when Travis shows up again.  The look also holds up fairly nicely.  I like how the ship looked, being a typical saucer design but with a bottom that moved like lava.  The lighting used was a big part of the movie as well.  I liked how the red light looked from behind the tree line, and I liked the white light that engulfed Travis.  I also liked the stained-glass window in the back of the church they showed a few times with the light shining down on Jesus in a strange symbolism.  The scene of Walton inside the spaceship was also really good.  It was the stuff of nightmares, put on screen.

The performances were mostly good in the movie, but not too many in ways that stood out particularly well.  Robert Patrick did a good job having to react to the townspeople that all believed he and his friends murdered Walton.  D.B. Sweeney also did a pretty good job of coming off completely shell shocked after he was returned by the aliens.  Craig Sheffer did a good enough job, but he was also playing an asshole.  He reminded me of Lieutenant Dan, but he had legs.

So there’s not really a whole lot to say about Fire in the Sky.  It’s not great, but it’s not bad either.  It just kind of exists.  It’s a typical UFO abduction movie, set apart a little by not telling the audience for sure if it actually is a UFO abduction or a murder mystery for the bulk of the movie.  The movie looks good, so it’s got that going for it, and the performances are solid.  The movie just isn’t noteworthy in any way.  You can watch it, or you can skip it.  But those are your only two choices.  Fire in the Sky gets “Oh they won’t come back.  I don’t think they like me” out of “I told you chuckleheads that story was never gonna work.”

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