DVD REVIEW: Fire in the Sky (1993)

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This Warner Archive release is a Manufacture-On-Demand (MOD) DVD. It is made to be played in “play only” DVD devices, and may not play in some DVD recorders or PC drives. This DVD, however, played with no problems in the Toshiba DVD recorder used for this review. This title is available directly from WBShop.com by clicking here.

THE SET-UP

This 1993 film is based on the true-life experiences of Travis Walton (D.B. Sweeney), a New Mexico logger who was abducted by aliens on November 5, 1975. Also stars Robert Patrick, Peter Berg, Henry Thomas, and James Garner.
Directed by Robert Lieberman.

THE DELIVERY

Fire in the Sky tells the true story of Travis Walton (Sweeney), perhaps the most compelling alien abduction story ever known. In 1975, Walton was working with a crew logging in the White Mountains of New Mexico when he claims he was abducted, which was witnessed by his co-workers, including his best friend Mike Rogers (Robert Patrick). 

In the days following his disappearance, authorities suspected foul play, and pointed the finger at his friends and co-workers. No one believes the co-workers’ story, even when Travis shows up a few days later, naked, dazed, and bewildered. Chief among the disbelievers is investigator Frank Watters (James Garner), who suspects the men are faking. 

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Fire in the Sky is something of a slow-burning thriller; with the exception of the abduction early on, it doesn’t rely on cheap scares to keep the audience interested. Instead, it relies on good suspense and outstanding performances from Robert Patrick and James Garner. This film is very much Patrick’s, as his character grapples with the guilt of leaving his friend to be abducted, and the growing pressure as everyone suspects he killed Travis. While Patrick may be best known for T2 and The X-Files, he gets to show his true acting range in this film, and it is one of his best career performances. In supporting performances, Peter Berg (director of Battleship and Friday Night Lights) and Henry Thomas (in a very un-E.T. alien film) are also very good.

Once Travis reappears, obviously traumatized and not really sure of what happened, the focus shifts to D.B. Sweeney’s fine performance, and the film turns truly terrifying as his character begins to remember exactly what happened. The final twenty minutes are as horrifying and disturbing as I’ve seen in a PG-13 film, as Travis remembers exactly what happened. 

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Other special effects-driven alien films may be more well-known, but Fire in the Sky remains one of my favorites of the genre. It is far more suspenseful than you expect it to be. Robert Lieberman keeps the plot moving and the tension high until the final reveal of what Travis experienced, an ending you won’t be able to shake for a long time. 

VIDEO AND AUDIO

The video transfer is fantastic for a manufactured-on-demand standard definition DVD. The image is excellent, with great detail. Colors are spot on, the dark scenes show good resolution, and there is little hint of artifacting or mastering issues. The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack is very good, with great surround effect and nice depth.

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SPECIAL FEATURES

None.

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THE BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT OR NETFLIX IT?

Ratings (1-10 scale)

Movie: 8

Video: 8

Audio: 7

Extras: 1

Overall score: 6

6

Even though it really should have had some special features delving into the true story it is based on, this DVD re-release of Fire in the Sky is welcomed. It’s been difficult to find on DVD, and if I had not received a review copy, I would have gone to the Warner Bros. website and bought one as soon as I could. I don’t buy many films on disc anymore, but as this is such a good movie, it is worth the time and money picking up.   

DVD SPECS

Release date: August 6. 2013

Running time: 109 minutes

Rating: PG-13

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0, French Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English

Special features: None

Label: Warner Archive

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