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More Aliens Land In Roswell
Alien abductions have been a part of science fiction films for decades. From Fire In The Sky to Steven Spielberg’s Taken mini-series, they’ve ranged from family entertainment to terrifying horror. Director Fulvio Sestito makes his feature film debut with the alien thriller Beyond The Sky, introducing a few found-footage elements into the alien abduction genre to mixed results. A skeptic finds there may be more than meets the eye in Roswell, New Mexico, the center of the UFO and alien survivor industry.
The low-budget indie production has nice special effects and a decent cast. It includes Ryan Carnes (Valentina’s Wedding), Jordan Hinson (Eureka), Peter Stormare (Big Lebowski) and Dee Wallace (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial). Peter Stormare and Dee Wallace don’t make much more than token appearances, albeit their presence can be felt in the movie. The main leads are Ryan Carnes and Jordan Hinson.
Documentary filmmaker Chris Norton (Ryan Carnes) has grown up with a father (Peter Stormare) that believes he was abducted by aliens as Chris’s mother left the family for good. Now an adult, Chris believes alien abductions aren’t real and his father was making everything up to excuse their failing marriage.
Hoping to expose alien abductions as false memories at a UFO convention in Roswell, New Mexico, he’ll meet Emily Reed (Jordan Hinson). Every seven years, Emily claims aliens have abducted her on her birthday. Her next anticipated abduction on her 28th birthday is only days away when Chris first meets Emily. Emily is a true believer that wants to put these experiences behind her by helping other alien abduction victims.
Beyond The Sky is standard science fiction storytelling
Beyond The Sky is standard science fiction storytelling
Emily’s abduction story intrigues the skeptical Chris, possibly because he’s clearly attracted to the young woman. Bill (Don Stark), a local businessman in Roswell profiting off the alien abduction industry, wants Chris and his documentary gone before it disrupts his profits. Sparks fly between Chris and Emily as they investigate a mysterious alien artifact and seek help from a local Native American medicine man.
Beyond The Sky tackles a tried-and-true genre formula in a mostly pleasing, if predictable, method. A skeptic attempts to debunk some mysterious phenomenon and ends up getting more than he bargained for in the process. More than Chris himself, Emily becomes the real protagonist of the movie. It is her harrowing journey and frightening alien experiences that are central to the plot. She’s an easily likable character.
While the light romance isn’t unexpected, it does come off as hackneyed and clumsily written. It is really a side plot that doesn’t receive enough development to matter in the end for the audience. There’s just enough suspense and drama in the movie to make up for the problem.
Beyond the Sky’s excellent special effects are a cut above most b-movies and doesn’t get bogged down in the limited found-footage excursions which move the plot along. The found-footage is more window dressing than an integral component of the narrative. Anyone usually upset with hand-held cameras and this kind of footage shouldn’t be bothered by it.
The alien abduction thriller could use meatier character development but it gets most things right in delivering a solid tale. Beyond The Sky is standard science fiction storytelling with a faintly modern twist. There’s enough intrigue and drama to give it a hesitant recommendation.
Indie filmmaking can look better than ever with the relatively affordable digital cameras available today. Supposedly made for $1.5 million, Beyond The Sky looks fantastic on Blu-ray. It has been filmed on the RED Dragon, a digital camera capable of 6K resolution. The clean, professional digital cinematography captures the deserts surrounding Roswell, New Mexico in pristine clarity and definition. If anything, the 1080P presentation might be too clean and sterile.
Distributed by RLJ Entertainment, the transfer from a digital intermediate is largely perfect. The 82-minute main feature is encoded in AVC on a BD-25. Parameters for the encode average around 21 Mbps. The video encode has hints of minor banding that doesn’t significantly degrade the otherwise perfect video. It’s a competent, transparent presentation that shows off the decent special effects without issue.
Exteriors are the most impressive in Beyond The Sky. The clear and crisp video shines with an even palette in neutral colors. The strong, vibrant picture quality has superior fine detail and a razor-sharp shine. Interiors display slightly inferior contrast and a tad less dimensionality. Even the found-footage, doctored and purposely degraded, looks decent.
The low-budget indie production comes equipped with restrained 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio. The surround mix isn’t particularly aggressive or expansive except when most necessary. Most of the movie is driven by dialogue with a few setpieces boosting the immersion.
There isn’t a great deal of bass even when an intense scene would normally call for it. The dialogue is clear and mostly intelligible, if a bit low in volume during a couple of scenes. This is a serviceable audio experience that doesn’t get particularly active and has few discrete moments, pushing everything to the front soundstage.
Optional English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles play in a white font.
RLJ Entertainment includes two minor supplemental features. A glossy slipcover is available on first pressings.
Interview with Travis Walton (02:10 in HD) – Probably the most famous supposed alien abductee in history and author of “Fire in the Sky” briefly sits down to discuss his 1975 abduction.
Interview with Navajo Artist at the International UFO Congress (02:52 in HD) – The Native American discusses his experiences in a short interview.
Trailers – The following play before the main menu and can be skipped if you want:
Prisoner X (01:48 in HD)
The Osiris Child (02:30 in HD)
Stranded (01:31 in HD)
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray release was provided to us for review by the label. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit our about us page to learn more about DoBlu’s editorial policies.
Beyond the Sky
Beyond the Sky is an indie sci-fi thriller that plays it safe, making for an uneven but serviceable found footage b-movie.
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