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DVD Talk review of 'Fire in the Sky'

Old 06-22-05, 05:03 PM
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DVD Talk review of 'Fire in the Sky'

http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/read.php?ID=12673

Adam Tyner's review is typically harsh, and misses the point of the movie entirely.

A close friend and I once debated why there is such a disconnect between the critics who universally hate this movie and the viewers who tend to love it and remember it fondly a decade after its release. My pal's belief is that urban media elites tend to frown upon films that deal with rural people in general; mine was that the same types tend to be repulsed by anything that even acknowledges the possiblity of the supernatural. Years later, I think it was a little of both.

The movie isn't flawless; James Garner is, well, James Garner. Yet it is very powerful, and the last reel is one of the most terrifying ever. In fact, the climax reminds one of nothing less than a child's fairy tale that morphs into night terrors. To claim the characters are weak is to overlook the film's strongest point completely--this is, at its root, the story of friends who are ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circustances. In fact, that complex bond is beautifully portrayed and D.B. Sweeney is simply brilliant.

As to the DVD, yes, it is spartan but the transfer and audio are quite good. This is one that deserves to be reissued with loads of extras.

If you have seen this movie I don't need to tout it. If you have not, with the current 20 percent discount at DDD it can be had for less than $7.50. I don't know if you will want to see the remake of War of the Worlds more than once, but you will watch and show your friends the last 10 minutes of Fire in the Sky again and again. And you will view the movie, in its entirety, many times. You don't have to believe there are things larger than us to enjoy this film, only that great stories with solid direction can make for great movies.

Last edited by Joe Frank; 06-22-05 at 05:29 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old 06-22-05, 05:30 PM
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Tyner's review is typically harsh, and misses the point of the movie completely.
Tyner's known to be a tough cookie, but by my estimation there are very few movie "points" that he "misses."

A close friend and I debated why there is such a disconnect between the critics who universally hate this movie and the viewers who tend to love it and remember it fondly a decade after its release.
How can there be a "universal" disconnect by "the" critics who hate it? "Universal" implies that ALL critics hate it, but "the critics" means that you're talking about just a distinct few. Plus, I'm a movie critic, and I don't hate the movie -- so there's one theory shot to hell.

My pal's belief is that urban media elites
We are not "urban media elites", whatever those things might be. We're educated and well-informed movie/DVD geeks who are able to write in a manner that some people find enlightening and/or entertaining. Folks don't get into the glamorous profession of DVD review because they're elitists. Generally, they do it because they love movies.

tend to frown upon films that deal with rural people in general
So basically you're saying, in a friendly and articulate way, that movie critics who live on the east or west coast will knee-jerkedly and unthinkingly knock a movie that is set somewhere in the midwest. Because, what, we think everyone out there looks and thinks like Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel? Sorry, I'm not biting on that one either.
mine was that the same types tend to be repulsed by anything that even acknowledges the possiblity of the supernatural
Now we're getting a little nutty. We "urban media elites" will turn our collective nose up at anything that deals with the supernatural?? No offense, friend, but that's a wacky thing to assume. I'm a city-boy through and through, and I can think of several awesome movies that A) take place in a rural setting, and B) deal with supernatural issues. I think you're reaching a little bit here...

The movie isn't flawless; James Garner is, well, James Garner. Yet it is very powerful, and the last reel is one of the scariest ever put on film. In fact, it reminds one of nothing less than a child's fairy tale that morphs into night terrors.
See what you did there, Joe? You stated your firm opinion about the movie in a very clear and concise statement. Now ... if I disagree with you ... does that make either of us wrong?

To claim the characters are weak is to miss the point entirely--this is, at its root the story of friends who are ordinary people caught in extraordinary circustances. In fact, that complex bond is beautifully portrayed.
To you the character development works perfectly well. But if Adam cannot claim the same opinion, then how exactly is he "missing the point"? If you both sat down to eat a cheeseburger, and you loved it while Adam thought it was "meh, not so good," who is in error here? Is Adam "missing the point" of the burger?

Basically I applaud you for coming to the defense of a movie you clearly admire. That's what movie fans should do. And I'll agree with you that "the scene" in this film is staggeringly effective and quite memorable. But just because none of it worked for Mr. Tyner, that doesn't mean he's "elitist" or so clueless that he just didn't "get it."

He just didn't like it.
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Old 06-22-05, 05:38 PM
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But just because none of it worked for Mr. Tyner, that doesn't mean he's "elitist" or so clueless that he just didn't "get it."

I used "elitist" in a general sense, not specifically directed toward Tyner. And, yes, if he didn't realize that this movie was character-driven he "didn't get it."
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Old 06-22-05, 05:52 PM
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I do have a few issues with the review (as one of the fan "majority"), but I'll narrow my dissention to this one point:

"Spending half the movie pondering whether or not Travis Walton is dead seems like a waste -- of course he's not. Dead men don't get book deals."

As far as I'm concerned, this is missing the point. In fact, the reviewer quite correctly points out earlier in the review that "Most of the movie isn't about Travis Walton, at least not directly -- it focuses on the five co-workers that left him behind, and the suspicion that arises in their sleepy little town as they find themselves accused of Walton's murder, despite a lack of incriminating evidence or even a body." The "is Travis dead or not" aspect is important to (some of) the characters, not the audience. The audience is left to identify with the plight of Travis' friends, and to ask ourselves--what would it be like if you lived through such an extraordinary, unlikely event and had to convey the truth of it to a society that only believes in the truth of "a bird in the hand"? Perhaps the reviewer didn't find the characters compelling because he didn't recognize the director/writer was trying to put all of us vicariously through the same dilemma these five men faced. It sounds like he was (to coin a Bono phrase) "sliding on the surface" of the script, rather than digging deeper...
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Old 06-22-05, 06:13 PM
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The audience is left to identify with the plight of Travis' friends, and to ask ourselves--what would it be like if you lived through such an extraordinary, unlikely event and had to convey the truth of it to a society that only believes in the truth of "a bird in the hand"? Perhaps the reviewer didn't find the characters compelling because he didn't recognize the director/writer was trying to put all of us vicariously through the same dilemma these five men faced. It sounds like he was (to coin a Bono phrase) "sliding on the surface" of the script, rather than digging deeper.

This is precisely the focus of the movie, and what the review missed. As I originally posted, I think some critics could not see beyond the supernatural aspect and the rural setting to appreciate the plight of the characters and the eventual reconciliation between D.B. Sweeney and Robert Patrick, who were torn asunder by the event.

The audience passed final judgment on this film, and it was a favorable verdict.
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Old 06-22-05, 08:20 PM
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The movie didn't have a strong enough hook to draw my interest, and that includes the characterization. I did try to go in with an open mind (the reason I requested a review copy was based entirely on the very positive comments on this forum), but a lot of Fire in the Sky just felt overly bland to me. I'm not trying to disparage anyone else's opinion, but if I watch a movie and don't find it particularly interesting, even if hardly anyone else agrees with me, I still feel obligated to say that in my review. For what it's worth, I did make it a point to mention in the review that this is a movie with a strong fanbase as well as that my opinions don't seem to be that widely held -- the goal isn't to insult anyone or even to turn people away from a particular movie.

I know you said you weren't referring to me specifically with the urban media elite comment, but I live in Simpsonville, South Carolina, which isn't exactly a booming metropolis.
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Old 06-22-05, 08:36 PM
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Haven't seen this one yet, but I'd like to rent it at some point.
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Old 06-22-05, 08:41 PM
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The movie didn't have a strong enough hook to draw my interest, and that includes the characterization. I did try to go in with an open mind (the reason I requested a review copy was based entirely on the very positive comments on this forum), but a lot of Fire in the Sky just felt overly bland to me.

I disagree with you most about the characterization. In fact, the movie was a profound examination of ordinary characters thrown into extraordinary circumstances. The final interaction between Sweeney and Patrick (what you called the needless epilogue) drives that point home.


I'm not trying to disparage anyone else's opinion, but if I watch a movie and don't find it particularly interesting, even if hardly anyone else agrees with me, I still feel obligated to say that in my review.

As you should. I simply disagree with your review. I wouldn't expect a review to be written as a crowd pleaser, and you should be forthright about what you think. Since this is a message board dedicated to comments on reviews ("Do you agree?" "Disagree?") I decided to start a thread about why I thought you were wrong. In other words, I also was candid.

For what it's worth, I did make it a point to mention in the review that this is a movie with a strong fanbase as well as that my opinions don't seem to be that widely held -- the goal isn't to insult anyone or even to turn people away from a particular movie.

Again, I wasn't insulted in any way; I doubt others were. I just thought, and still think, your review was off the mark and missed or brushed over the central theme of the movie.

I know you said you weren't referring to me specifically with the urban media elite comment, but I live in Simpsonville, South Carolina, which isn't exactly a booming metropolis.

I and the friend to whom I initially referred spoke of type. Ironically, at the time of our analysis, I lived in the Far Left Coast of Ka'anapali, Maui, and he lived and still lives in NYC. We related to those around us; you and the guy who responded first from Pennsylvania hardly fit the media archtype we used.

I just disagree with your review. Given that I have dabbled in technical book reviews (everyone can yawn now), I know that reaction probably isn't a cherry popper. If there were an earlier thread started and archived about your review, could you provide a link? I would like to see what other reactions were, if someone responded.

Anyhow, take care.

Last edited by Joe Frank; 06-23-05 at 12:19 AM. Reason: clarity
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Old 06-22-05, 08:51 PM
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Haven't seen this one yet, but I'd like to rent it at some point.

I am so certain that you will enjoy it I would recommend buying it while it is less than $7.50 at DDD. Others, as you can see, may disagree
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