I posted sometime earlier a review of "Fire in the Sky", and now having reviewed in many years later, I have to revise my thoughts. "Fire in the Sky" is a very flawed Hollywood horror movie pretending to be a true story. Sure it's well done and has some good dramatic tension throughout the film, and most notably, an "abduction" sequence that is a standalone. But looking at the film as a whole, it's greatest problem is that it all seems to center around the "abduction" scene in the film, which isn't exactly to Travis Walton's descriptions anyway. It's studio meddling intended to try and spice up the picture into something really frightening. It works on that level, yes, but in the end, it's simply studio meddling and not the intriguing experience one will read about in "The Walton Experience" by Travis Walton himself.
From a technical standpoint, "Fire in the Sky" is well made and acted. Performances are good all around, and D.B. Sweeney has earned recognition for portraying Travis Walton, notably due to the alien sequence. There is a good sense of drama all around, with townsfolk skepticism regarding Travis Walton's disappearance, the ordeal of Travis' co-workers enduring the skeptics, and of course, the ordeal of Walton himself. Still, when it all adds up in the end, what are we left with? In actuality, we are left with an alien sequence.
This is where the film really comes alive, and the sad part is that it's pure dramatic license. Pure fear and horror is the primary intent on the part of the filmmaker's here, and through a triumph of set design and special effects as well as cinematography on the part of Bill Pope(who would later shoot "The Matrix"), we are set, with actor D.B. Sweeney, inside a domain unlike any we've ever been in before. The floating effect where the camera itself seems to float in zero gravity with such grace and smoothness is always one that will baffle the eye. The creatures themselves aren't really that well animated, but are so ugly that we can only shy away in fear. The 'examination' itself, though familiar to countless ufologists and 'abductees', is frightening and invasive. The scene is very well made and done for what it is. Still, with all of this, this is not without it's problems.
I suppose my real problem with "Fire in the Sky" is trying to figure out what exactly the intent of this film was. What were the makers trying to do with it? It starts out as some sort of archetypical "true story" drama, then turns into a sci-fi horror show, intermingled with some bizarre humanoid metaphor about our inner evil, portrayed in the way the aliens treat Travis as a specimen, and in the end, forgotten completely with no real sense of closure. Weighing this all as a whole, what does it truly amount to? What is the point of all of it? A good scare? Telling a modified true story? Drama? If "Fire in the Sky" had nothing before or after the "alien" scene, no ties to it being a true story, and existed as a short film on it's own, it would be a great piece of work. Because there is such conflict within all the dramatic elements, and a lack of closure or greater character study, it fails. It is a popcorn horror show for people wanting to be scared and then forget about it. It makes no real effort to get inside Travis Walton as a character other than superficial cliche. It would have been more interesting if it spent more time with the character the film centered around, Travis Walton. It doesn't do that. He's merely a victim inside a frightening alien funhouse designed to scare people and sell tickets.
I guess "Fire in the Sky" can be appreciated for what it is, but sadly, instead of an interesting and informative document on a man allegedly abducted by aliens, which it could have been and had the potential to be, it is a guilty pleasure.
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