Travis Walton works in the White Mountains, clearing bush for the government. Driving home from work, his colleagues arrive back in town, claiming that Travis was abducted by aliens. Nobody believes them, and despite a lack of motive and no evidence of foul play, Travis' disappearance is treated as murder. Travis reappears after five days, but in time, the terrible memories of his alien abduction come back...
Directed by: Robert Lieberman
. Starring: D.B. Sweeney
, Robert Patrick
, Craig Sheffer
, Peter Berg
, Henry Thomas
, Bradley Gregg
, Noble Willingham
, Kathleen Wilhoite
, James Garner
, Georgia Emelin
, Scott MacDonald
, Wayne Grace
, Kenneth White
. Music by: Mark Isham
This was a film that I remember seeing thanks to my mother. She read the book and then saw the movie. I'll be honest, I remember parts of it, but it was definitely a long time ago, so I was interested in checking this one out again. The synopsis is an Arizona logger mysteriously disappears for five days in an alleged encounter with a flying saucer in 1975.
We jump into this with a truck speeding down a dirt road. It comes out to a paved road and almost gets into a car accident. The men inside are freaked out and they stop at a local bar. The men go inside and the local sheriff Blake Davis (Nobel Willingham) watches them. The group is Mike Rogers (Robert Patrick), Allan Dallis (Craig Sheffer), David Whitlock (Peter Berg), Greg Hayes (Henry Thomas) and Bobby Cogdill (Bradley Gregg). They're shook over something and they elect their boss, Mike to make a call.
This brings Frank Watters (James Garner). He's a famous investigator and has no unsolved cases. Blake meets him when he arrives and fills him in a little bit about what happened, but wants him to get it from the source. He goes inside and puts a tape recorder down. He wants the men to recap what happened.
We then shift back to the events that got us here. We see Travis Walton (D.B. Sweeney) as he makes his way to Mike's house. He is a bit of a free spirit and doesn't really follow the rules. Mike is married to Katie (Katheleen Wilhoite) and they're struggling at the moment. They're behind on their mortgage and Mike's logging team is behind on the contract they signed to fulfill. Travis is a member of that crew along the guys we saw earlier. Travis is also seeing Mike's younger sister, Dana (Georgia Emelin). They head off and pick up the rest of the crew in Mike's struggling truck.
At work we see that Travis and Allan don't really get along. They all kind of seem to get on each other's nerves a bit. Travis and Mike are best friends though. On their way home that night, they see a light in the sky. It kind of looks like fire and it is in the path they have to go. They stop when they get close and it's a UFO. Travis gets out of the truck to get a better look and he's engulf in a bluegreen light. It picks up him and throws him. The men still in the truck panic and drive off. Mike finally calms down and goes back to get Travis. The problem is that he's missing. That leads to the men going to the bar.
Frank and Blake think they actually did something to Travis. There's an investigation that involves a search party as well as polygraphs. This becomes quite the news story for those who think it could be aliens or that there could be foul play. Dan Walton (Scott MacDonald) thinks that Allan did something to his brother. Things all change though when Travis shows up 5 days later. At first he doesn't know what happened and is very quiet. He does start to remember though of the nightmarish things he claimed happened to him when he was gone.
I really have to say that this is very interesting. It is based on the book that the real Travis wrote about his ordeal. Now I'm going to say this. I do believe in aliens. I don't believe in organized religion and think that if there is life on this planet, there has to be life on other ones. Do I necessarily think they've come to Earth? Probably not. I will say though, I do believe that Travis really thinks this happened to him.
With that out of the way, what I really like about this film is that we see the UFO. So we know the events they think happened. What I really like though is the investigation aspect of the film. The logic is with the townspeople and Frank in that it is fantastical to think that this really happened. I can't blame them, because I probably would be right there with them. It is hard though to not believe that something wild happened to Travis when he shows up 5 days later.
What I also really enjoy about this film is how Travis starts to remember what happened. There's a great bit of editing where Travis is wheeled down a hospital corridor and it is meshing up with what happened to him while he was in the custody of aliens. It is quite nightmarish with the tests that they are doing to him as well. The look of them is interesting as well, but they are definitely of the Greys variety. It is stating that the look we see used on all type of merchandise is actually a spacesuit and they're somewhat humanoid. I like that it never really explores why they did what they did, but we see this has happened to a quite of a bit of people.
I've somewhat touched on the editing, but I do think that the pacing overall is good. The film runs about 109 minutes. I think that we move through the different aspects of the film at a good clip, building tension along the way. We jump right into it and then we are building the tension trying to figure out what happened to Travis. There is the aspect that it could actually be a logical explanation and when he shows back up, there is trying to prove what really happened. The ending is kind of uplifting and I didn't mind it. Seeing the outcome of how these events affected the lives of them was good.
The strongest part of the film would have to be the acting. Sweeney is great in his role. I love we get to see his personality before him disappearing and then seeing after the fact is night and day. We also get to see him down the road as well as he tries to transition back. Patrick is really good here as well. I would actually say he is the lead as it follows him for the most part. Sheffer, Berg, Thomas and Gregg are also solid as the guys trying to deal with what happened around them. I also like the rest of the performances. They do round out the film for what is needed.
Next I'll go over the effects of the film, which there aren't a ton of them. What we do get is mostly practical and I think they hold up really well. I was trying to figure out the aliens we see are humans in suits, but I think they're actually puppets. They do move and act in a realistic way. There is probably a bit of computer effects, but they're really there to just enhance. I thought they worked well. The film is also shot well in my opinion.
Now with that said, this film is an interesting event that is reportedly based on a true story. I like the idea that there could be life out there and that it could be experimenting on the human race to learn more. It is a terrifying thing that could be happening and there's also fear here of being convicted of a crime you might not have committed for Travis' friends. I don't necessarily think that the events of the film really happened, but I believe they do. The acting really carries this film. Effects are pretty solid even though there aren't a lot of them. There's a combination of practical and computer what I could tell. The soundtrack really didn't stand out, but it also didn't hurt the film. It did stand out when they were getting close to the UFO and it was affecting their radio. Overall I'd say this is a good film. If you like aliens, I'd recommend giving this is a viewing as it is a realistic look at abductions for sure.
Review by david_rudy_lee from the Internet Movie Database.