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Fire In The Sky (Scream Factory) Blu-ray Review

    Ian Jane

  • Fire In The Sky (Scream Factory) Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Scream Factory
    Released on: June 21st, 2022.
    Director: Robert Lieberman
    Cast: D.B. Sweeney, Robert Patrick, Craig Sheffer, Peter Berg, James Garner
    Year: 1983
    Purchase From Amazon

    Fire In The Sky – Movie Review:

    Based on Travis Walton's book The Walton Experience, Robert Lieberman's 1993 film, Fire In The Sky, tells the story of Walton's own experiences wherein he claims he was abducted by a U.F.O. in Arizona in 1975.

    Walton (D.B. Sweeney) works as a logger with five other co-workers who, while out on the job in the small town of Snowflake, Arizona, come face to face with a U.F.O., and while his co-workers – his brother-in-law Mike Rogers (Robert Patrick), Allan Dallis (Craig Sheffer), David Whitlock (Peter Berg), Greg Hayes (Henry Thomas, oddly enough, from E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, a very different kind of alien film!) and Bobby Cogdill (Bradley Gregg) - manage to escape, Walton is abducted and brought aboard the ship where he’s subjected to a medical examination courtesy of some little grey men.

    When Walton vanishes, the five men who fled the scene are accused of murdering him by Sheriff Blake Davis (Noble Willingham) and Lieutenant Frank Watters (James Garner) who are heading up the investigation. But without a body, it’s hard to prove their case, particularly as the five men are all consistent with the details of their story. When Walton is found a few days later, naked and confused, his flashbacks fill us in on the details of what he went through.

    Fire In The Sky is a good movie, but not a great movie, despite the fact that it had the potential to be just that. The problem with the story is that we know right off the bat that Travis’ co-workers are telling the truth when they say that they didn’t kill him. We know Travis isn’t dead, because the movie is based on a book he wrote about his experiences… so obviously he makes it out of this situation alive and that can’t help but sap some of the suspense out of the bulk of the movie’s ‘whodunit’ style storytelling. We spend more time with Travis’ five friends and their considerably less interesting ordeal than we do with Travis and what he went through.

    The abduction scene, however, is really well done. The ship is dark inside, we don’t get loads of gleaning, shiny metal or a look at the aliens’ space age technology, rather, it’s an eerie, minimalist and very stifling set design that we see up on screen. It works and it works well, playing out as legitimately tense and genuinely frightening. These scenes feel, for lack of a better word, very alien and it’s hard to imagine them being much more effective than they are.

    Production values are good across the board. The locations are the perfect place to tell a story like this and Bill Pope’s cinematography is very strong, especially in the abduction scene where his touch is clearly responsible for creating such a claustrophobic set piece. The effects used to create the aliens and the exterior of their craft also work quite well and hold up nicely three decades later. The film benefits from an interesting and unique score from Mark Isham that switches between eerie electronic music and more traditional orchestral pieces to good effect.

    We get strong acting across the board as well. Sweeney is quite convincing in his role, portraying confusion and terror believably enough that we have no issue with the actor’s take on the material. Robert Patrick, in a really solid performance, is also very good here, as are the rest of the actors who play Travis’ coworkers. James Garner plays his part exactly like you’d expect him to, but he’s as likeable as ever and a good choice for the role.

    Fire In The Sky – Blu-ray Review:

    Fire In The Sky comes to Blu-ray from Scream factory on a 50GB region A Blu-ray in AVC encoded 1080p high definition and framed at 2.35.1 widescreen taking up just over 33GBs of space on the disc. The transfer looks really strong and is almost entirely free of print damage. The image shows very strong detail and excellent color reproduction. We get strong black levels, accurate looking flesh tones and nice depth and texture throughout without any noticeable noise reduction or edge enhancement. Even the darker scenes that take place inside the ship, which are shrouded in shadow, look really solid.

    Audio options for the feature includes a 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and a 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, both in English, with optional subtitles provided in English only. The 2.0 mix would replicate the film’s original audio but the 5.1 option does spread out the score and the sound effects well enough, particularly in a few key scenes where the added channels do add to the intensity. Regardless of which option you choose, the audio is clean, clear and nicely balanced, there are no problems with any noticeable hiss or distortion.

    Extras start off with Cinematic Abduction, a twenty-six minute featurette with Director Robert Lieberman that is essentially a select scene commentary track. He talks about where his career was at the time the movie was made and why he opted to direct this project, working with Paramount, what it was like shooting in the wilds of Oregon, casting the film and working with the different actors, the effects work and why both the aliens and the abduction scene are shown the way that they are in the movie.

    Touched By Light is a fifteen minute audio interview with actor D.B. Sweeney that explores what appealed to him about his role in the feature, his hopes of landing the lead in the James Cameron adaptation of Spider-Man that never made it off the ground, thoughts on his character and the production values of the feature, his thoughts on the film's finale and on its cult fan base.

    Robert Patrick is up next in the eleven minute We Gotta Go Back audio interview, where he shares his thoughts on how, at this point in his career, he was trying not to get type case after the success of Terminator 2, his thoughts on the script and his role in the film, what went into preparing for the part he played, getting along with his co-stars and his fascination with the real life events that inspired the movie.

    An audio interview with composer Mark Isham titled Borrowed Time runs just under twelve minutes and lets the man talk about the differences between creating the electronic aspects of the score and the orchestral aspects of the score, specifically writing the music for the important abduction scene and what he tried to do there and how he got along with Lieberman.

    Finishing up the extras are a photo gallery, a theatrical trailer, menus and chapter selection options.

    Fire In The Sky – The Final Word:

    Fire In The Sky isn’t a masterpiece and it spends too much time for its own good on a mystery we know the resolution to, but the acting and production values are strong across the board and the movie would be worth seeing for the insanely tense abduction scene all on its own. Shout! Factory’s Blu-ray release is of excellent quality, presenting the film in a very nice presentation and with some pretty good extra features as well. Recommended.

    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Fire In The Sky (theatrical cut) Blu-ray screen caps!

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    • JoeS
      Senior Member
      JoeS commented
      Editing a comment
      Regardless of what you believe about Travis Walton's tale about being abducted by a UFO, Robert Lieberman's adaptation of Walton's book contains some of the most harrowing depictions of Alien Experimentation on humans put on film.

      The screenplay by Travis Torme takes a pretty straightforward approach to telling Walton's (played by DB Sweeney) story as he and five of his logging buddies see a UFO. Walton gets hit by a bolt of light and disappears. As anyone who has followed Flying Saucer lore can guess, the Police (led by James Garner) don't believe the five witnesses (the actors include Robert Patrick, Henry Thomas and Peter Berg). When Walton mysteriously re-appears days later, he too, is subject to hostile questioning.

      The movie really picks up during the Alien Examination scenes. Walton's own account was fairly dry so Lieberman and Torme gussied it up extensively - abetted by some terrific ILM special effects. Bill Pope's cinematography and Mark Isham's music add to the abject horror of those scenes. It's pretty frightening stuff even if it is a hoax. Walton and his crew passed several polygraphs; and he's made his own documentary (Travis: The True Story Of Travis Walton (2015)). Debunkers including Philip Klass pointed out that this story occurred just two weeks after The UFO Incident aired on local TV. Whatever you believe, FIRE IN THE SKY is a vivid abduction movie.

      Director Lieberman passed away this week. He made his mark mostly on TV on such shows as The X-Files, Earthsea, Falling Skies and The Expanse. RIP.
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