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Roswell Reviews

With the success of such television programs as "The X-Files" and "Sightings", it's not surprising that films are following suit with "true-life" offerings like FIRE IN THE SKY and ROSWELL, a made-for-cable drama based on the same events that inspired the 1980 cult film HANGAR 18. Major Jesse Marcel (Kyle MacLachlan) sees a 1977 military reunion in Roswell, New Mexico, as an opportunity to clear his name. Thirty years earlier, Marcel had been the point man in an investigation into the possible crash landing of a flying saucer--a crash that left a crater littered with silvery, foil-like debris that displayed reconstructive properties unlike any earthly alloy. Soon, however, Major Marcel is picked to be the fall guy, covering the incident with an army-issued story about a fallen weather balloon. Three decades later, Marcel--who has been stricken with terminal lung cancer--interrogates former comrades about what, if anything, they saw or heard. He learns of a second, much larger crash site, strewn with several dead aliens--and one still living. In the end, a mysterious man calling himself Townsend (Martin Sheen) reveals what really happened in Roswell, and after. Drawn from a book documenting "actual" events in 1947, ROSWELL could have easily been a cinematic version of the Weekly World News. However, director and co-story-writer Jeremy Paul Kagan (BIG MAN ON CAMPUS, DESCENDING ANGEL) carefully spins the story around Marcel's investigation rather than simply relying upon the spooky details. Only in the end, when Townsend (who may or may not be an Army mouthpiece) relates how the government systematically suppressed information on alien visitors, does the film slip into "Sightings"-like dramatization--and even then, it feels more like an episode of "In Search Of" as directed by Oliver Stone. Kyle MacLachlan, who otherwise looks about eighteen years old, convincingly portrays the maligned and embittered old major looking at his last chance for vindication. (Profanity.)