Roswell movie on DVD

Originally released as a TV movie in the 1990s for Showtime, “Roswell” depicts what it describes as true-life events from 1947 surrounding a UFO that crashed down in the eponymous town in New Mexico, the subsequent media storm and army cover-up, and one man’s mission to uncover the truth 30 years later. Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks, Desperate Housewives) and Martin Sheen (“Apocalypse Now”, The West Wing) headline.

Intelligence Officer Jesse Marcel (MacLachlan) was one of the first on the scene on 4 July 1947, when the UFO evidence was reported by a startled livestock rancher. Supported by a knee-jerk army statement mentioning a ‘flying disc’, Marcel dives enthusiastically into an investigation, only to become the fall guy when the military does a complete U-turn a few days later. A major cover-up ensues, the evidence is replaced with a weather balloon and witnesses are paid off.

Roswell movie comes to DVDRoll forwards 30 years to the 30th year reunion of the 509th Bomb Wing, and Marcel confronts colleagues and witnesses about the events, driven by a desire to expose the truth, or at least confirm in his own mind that he was right before he succumbs to a terminal illness. It is here that he runs into a mysterious official called Townsend (Sheen) who privately corroborates the intelligence officer’s story.

“Roswell” is a solid entry in the annals of UFO sightings movies, adapted from a book by Kevin D Randle and Donald R Schmitt called ‘UFO Crash at Roswell’, and directed by Jeremy Kagan (“The Journey of Natty Gann”). It moves along at quite a pace, and the structure of the narrative, flitting back and forth between 1947 and 1977, adds some depth.

The casting of MacLachlan is a bit of a two-edged sword. On the one hand he encourages sympathy as the hard-done-by army investigator, but on the other his range of emotions, at least playing this fairly shallow character, is rather limited. On the plus side, the make-up used to age him for the scenes at the reunion is very effective and his stiffened body movements subtly complement it.

Whilst Sheen only appears on screen quite briefly there is a very solid supporting cast, including Xander Berkeley (Nikita, 24) as a shifty colleague of Marcel’s, Bob Gunton (“The Shawshank Redemption”, also 24) as a local radio reporter, Peter MacNicol (Ally McBeal, “Ghostbusters II”) as another intelligence agent, Nick Searcy (Justified) as a mortician who has to deal with some highly unusual bodies, and Charles Martin Smith (“The Untouchables”) as the local Sheriff who is a bit miffed when he gets shut out by the military police.

The bonus feature on the DVD is “The UFO Chronicles”, a documentary with factual accounts and theories of many major UFO events of the century. The programme, originally part of the Mysteries, Magic and Miracles series, starts by describing the same events as the movie but then wanders off into related territory such as artists obsessed with aliens (possibly as a result of a prior encounter), and the relationship between humans, dolphins and aliens. If you like this kind of material you will be right at home, assuming you can cope with interviews that are shot at a 25 degree angle to ‘enhance’ the atmosphere!

“Roswell" (1994) is out now, courtesy of Fabulous Films. The main feature has a running time of 92 mins approx, carries a ‘12’ certificate and retails for £14.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

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