My main gripe is that the logging crew are portrayed as 1990s types, rather than rural 1970s people. If you look at the photos of the actual people from Travis Walton's website, they don't look at all like their portrayals in the movie.
The acting was good, with strong emotional demonstrations by the logging crew; without that, this movie would have been really weak. The only star I recognized was James Garner, whose presence added greatly to the movie's credibility (ironically, his character was the main skeptic).
The Walton encounter occurred before the wave of interest in UFOs that arose in the 1980s, following the publication of Shirley MacLaine's "Out on a Limb" in 1983, and especially the broadcast of the TV movie in 1987. It also preceded "Close Encounters" by two years; perhaps it inspired some elements of the movie?
While there was considerable interest in the press about UFOs in the 1950s, plus some movies, etc., there was little non-fiction about abductions until decades later. So Walton's account would not have been "inspired" by other descriptions. However, it also seems to vary from the more common accounts of abductions. If people independently describe similar details, this strengthens their credibility.
Without reading the book, there is not enough detail in this movie to make any judgment about the credibility of Walton's account. Aside from the movie special effects re-enactment, there is no actual talk from Walton describing in his own words what happened. There is a whole lot missing, like how he got out of the UFO and wound up naked at a cross- roads in the rain.
It is interesting to see how the townsfolk reacted. Perhaps the strongest scene in the movie was when Mike Rogers confronted the townsfolk in the church. I'm not sure how accurate that all was, this being a Hollywood movie.
As to motive, so-called skeptics are too quick to accuse people like Walton of seeking publicity with made up stories. I can't believe Walton would make up a story like this back in the 1970s, especially in a small town, etc. Most abductees don't want to talk about these things publicly. But Walton's five-day disappearance begged that question.
However, the folks making the movie apparently wanted to cash in on the wave of interest in UFOs, post-MacLaine. I think the movie presents the events in a fairly reasonable fashion, though, again, I'm not sure how accurate it is. But I would not say it is a particularly realistic presentation of the abduction experience compared to the more common, mainstream accounts.
I see from the discussion on IMDb that Walton now believes the aliens were not as malevolent as he thought, initially, and perhaps were trying to help him. This makes sense.
As to the so-called theory that UFO sightings are more common in rural areas, nonsense. UFOs have been seen in and around New York City, including along the Grand Central Parkway and hovering over the New Jersey Palisades, directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan. And then there was the sighting from the Brooklyn Bridge of a woman being abducted from her apartment. Perhaps New Yorkers are just a bit more blasé about oddities.
While rummaging through my brain for other similar accounts, I started to remember old images and descriptions like those in the film of the cavernous area. The trouble is, I don't remember the specifics. It is possible I am just remembering having seen the movie years ago on VHS, or having read the book.
The irony is there is so much stuff out about UFOs now, that anyone now would have difficulty telling whether it was a bad dream inspired by some movie or book or TV show, and anyone claiming to have had an encounter might face similar questions.
On the other hand, there are now thousands of people describing UFO encounters, often with common threads, all over the world, including Presidents, governors, high ranking military brass, and scientists. This, in retrospect, probably vindicates Walton's account.
But while missing time is common, it is very rare to show up days later, naked. And most people simply don't remember their abduction. How Walton recalled it is not made clear in the movie -- did the doctor put him into hypnosis?
There would probably be many more descriptions of UFO encounters, but most people who know keep their mouths shut. Why? Just look at this film, and you will see why.
The bottom line: While this movie is reasonably interesting, compared to other fiction and non-fiction movies about UFOs, it comes across as a bit weak and not terribly enlightening.
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