‘Fire in the Sky’ tells two stories, one fascinating and the other tedious and boring. Unfortunately, we spend most of the time with the latter. It is based on the true story of Travis Walton who claims that in 1975 he was abducted by aliens and put through some excruciating tests aboard their spaceship. We know that the movie assumes this to be true. After all, the opening titles begin with ‘This is a true story’. The problem is that the movie spends two fourths of it’s running time with characters trying to decide whether or not Walton’s friends who witnessed the abduction are telling the truth.
We know they aren’t lying (in terms of this movie) because of a brilliant opening scene. The group (six of them including Travis) are driving home and see lights in the sky. Travis jumps out of the pick-up and runs toward them, is zapped by the light and lifted aboard the ship. The next day a state investigator (James Garner) questions the men about his possible whereabouts especially one (Craig Sheffer) who nearly came to blows with him on the day he disappeared.
I have no problem with character study but in this case I was less interested in the personal lives and marital problems of Travis’ friends then what happened to Travis himself. The closing scenes of the movie are chilling. After Walton turns up, naked and shaken at a gas station he flashes back to his harrowing experience inside the alien spacecraft.
We get to see a brilliant via a production design by === the interior of the ship and the excruciating tests that Walton goes through after being covered with a wet sticky cloth and then waking up inside a goo-filled coffin. These scenes work but I couldn’t help wondering if they wouldn’t have worked better at the beginning of the film. Then show us the after effects of Walton’s life after his return, the interrogations, the suspicions and dealing with it as the years pass. I just think that Walton’s story is much more interesting then the suspicions surrounding his buddies.