Wednesday, August 31, 2011

SKYLINE (2010)

The Skyline trailer came out a few months ago, and I remember thinking it looked somewhat interesting and it caught me by surprise since I hadn't heard any buzz about it. I checked it out on Wikipedia and saw it was directed by the guys behind Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem... "The Brothers Strouse." Besides thinking to myself that would be a good name for a reality show about German bakers, I realized this movie was going to suck hard. Because there's a reason you give directing credit to "The Brothers Strouse" - it's called plausible deniability. See, when the two Strause brothers realized just what an abomination of a movie they were going to release, they knew that in ten years they wouldn't want their name on it. So by having just their last name on the credits, each could blame the other brother for the movie in case they were ever confronted by an angry, knife-wielding schmuck who wanted his $11.50 back after watching Skyline.


Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and his girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson) fly to California to spend a few days with his old friend Terry (Donald Faison), who is apparently filthy rich and famous or something. They are celebrating his birthday at his snazzy Los Angeles apartment, and joined by Terry's girlfriend Candice (Brittany Daniel) and his personal assistant Denise (Crystal Reed). The morning after the birthday bash, one of the guys staying in the house is awakened by bright blue lights coming in through the blindsm stares directly at it, and we see his face becomes covered with purple veins and bruises. All of a sudden he is sucked out the window and disappears. The rest of the group wakes up and soon finds out that giant alien space ships are floating over L.A. and are vacuuming up thousands of people for no apparent reason. Jarrod stares at the light as well, but is saved from being vacuumed out himself. The group then has to decide whether to make a run for it and try to leave the city or stay in the apartment and hope for the best.

The entirety of the movie takes place in the apartment complex. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that you need interesting characters to keep the audience hooked. Misery, which mostly takes place inside a single bedroom, works because Kathy Bates's character is downright amazing as the psychotic bitch nurse from hell. In Skyline, it fails so hard because the characters might as well just die in the first five minutes and nothing of value would be lost. You don't learn anything about them, they don't develop, and you plain just don't give a damn about them. They're boring and have nothing interesting about them. In fact, Terry was the only one that even seemed likable, but since he's the Token Minority Character, you don't have to guess who'll end up dying first.

There could have been hope if at least the aliens were interesting. But no... Skyline had to go and break the cardinal rule of alien invasion movies - no boring aliens. These aliens look like flying metal squid. Well, whoop-de-doo. They're also too stupid to figure out how to grab people inside buildings. The aliens get no back story either. They just show up, start vacuuming up humans, and just chill in L.A. Boring, stupid aliens. Gee, what a thrill.


Skyline has some nice eye candy at times (not that often, mind you) and well done special effects and CGI. The close ups of the massive alien ships are really detailed and hold up well in high-def. Without a story or any characters that the audience actually cares about, it's all wasted. By the time the credits roll, it feels like you just watched a demo reel of cool effects made by that weird kid that sat in the back of your class in high school and was always playing with AfterEffects on his Macbook. It's hollow, not exactly thrilling, and ultimately can't grow out of the fact that it is a cobbled together mix of scenes and ideas from other, better sci-fi movies.

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