Thursday, May 19, 2011

"Skyline" (2010)

Starring Eric Balfour, Donald Faison and Scottie Thompson
Written by Joshua Cordes and Liam O'Donnell
Directed by "The Brothers Strause"
Rated PG-13 - Language, sci-fi violence
Running Time: 94 minutes

Skyline [Blu-ray]....Jebus.  I guess we'll start with the... setup.  Hard to call it a "plot" or a "story" but... here goes... I guess....

Jared (Eric Balfour) and his girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson) travel from Brooklyn, NY to Los Angeles to visit Jared's best friend Terry (Donald Faison) for his birthday.  After a raucous party, everyone falls asleep.  Sometime around 4:30 in the morning, strange blue lights fall from the sky and start.... doing... something... to people.  They become entranced and then disappear, or something.  The next day, crazy-looking alien spaceships fill up the sky and begin scooping up people by the thousands.  Jared, Terry, Elaine, Terry's girlfriend Candice (Brittany Daniel) and Terry's assistant Denise (Crystal Reed) are trapped and alone in Terry's apartment.

For the next 80 minutes (because, seriously, "Skyline" takes about 15 minutes to get to the point) these characters will bicker endlessly about what they should or should not do, alternately deciding that going to the roof and then going to the basement and then back up to the apartment and then back out to the roof and then back to their original plan is all a good idea.  About halfway through this nonsense, Terry gets killed, and his position as one of the lead characters is taken over by his apartment building's concierge, Oliver (David Zayas) who runs the show for the next half hour. 

At some point, the United States military finally gets around to fighting back, giving this dwindling group of morons some hope of escape.  We're supposed to care because Elaine is pregnant, and the others just didn't ask to be put into this kind of terrible situation. 

I have to give "Skyline" a little credit: it's extensive computer generated effects are pretty impressive for a film with such a low budget.  The directors of this movie (the same two demonic souls who unleashed "Alien vs Predator: Requiem" on us) are apparently the owners of a special effects company, so they have the know-how and infrastructure to do some nifty things on-screen.  What they can't do is create likeable characters or elicit good performances from their cast.  But for a few moments when the aerial battle between the U.S. Air Force and the aliens is going on, "Skyline" seems pretty cool.  Just for those few moments.

What they also manage to do is make a film that is alternately excruciatingly boring, kinda cool, and then totally batshit insane.  The final three moments of this movie will, I guarantee, leave you shaking your head in complete disbelief.  If it weren't so hilariously nonsensical, I would almost believe that it was a kind of "haha FOOLED YOU!" on the audience, a taunt from the filmmakers for having given them our money.  Do I dare ruin the surprise for you?  Are you actually going to subject yourself to this kind of cinematic acid trip? 

"Skyline" is pretty bad.  "Battle: Los Angeles" was no great work of artistic genius, but at least I wasn't bored watching it.  "Skyline" spends too much time with unlikeable people arguing in a swanky apartment, doesn't present any kind of rhyme or reason for things that happen, and then ends with one of the worst left-field twists I've seen in a good long while.  Along the way, try to pick out all the little parts it rips off from other, more entertaining sci-fi movies like "Independence Day", "District 9" or "War of the Worlds."  It's a slick-looking bad movie, the sort of thing you'd see on the Syfy Channel on Saturday nights... except for the slick-looking part.

See Also
Independence Day
District 9
Battle: Los Angeles