Wednesday, November 17, 2010

'Skyline' an Airball

Wow, I was hoping for so much more. When the teaser trailers for Skyline began appearing back in August, I got excited.over it's interesting concept and promising special effects. I steadfastly avoided all subsequent information on the film until it's November release, and saw it yesterday with all the anticipation of a child about to go to town on his Halloween candy. Afterward, like that same child, I felt not too well about the whole experience.

Remind me, do aliens kill virgins or are we only safe in a pure horror film?

Directed by the Brothers Strause, helmsmen on the mediocre-at-best Aliens vs. Predator Requiem, Skyline certainly did not skimp on the special effects. As long-time special effects gurus and owners of the  Hydraulx SFX studio, brothers Greg and Colin have worked in the medium since their earliest days on the X-Files sets. In this way the effects - even on a meager budget - stand out as some of the best seen this year. Unfortunately, this is the only thing the film has to recommend it, as the rest is a mess compiled of every sci-fi horror film ever unleashed upon unexpecting audiences.

It's Turk!
The film begins with Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and Elaine (Scottie Thompson) visiting Los Angeles for the birthday of Jarrod's best friend Terry (Donald Faison). After a fairly wild party, the group wakes up early the next morning when beams of light suddenly drop from the sky, "abducting" any who are caught in their gaze. Later, a second wave of alien craft descend to the Earth, and the survivors decide that they must escape before they suffer the same fate of those who have already been taken.

Why the aliens actually need the light to abduct people I don't get
Sounds like pretty standard fare, doesn't it? The "light" aspect of it is actually pretty inventive and done well thanks to the aforementioned SFX talents inherent in the building of the film. The light is almost addictive in nature, making the viewer feel powerful while at the same time sucking them into helplessness. Sadly, this small detail is only one good quality in a sea of uselessness. For one thing, we don't have any care about the characters, most of them are one-dimensional and uninteresting, from Brittany Daniels's spoiled rich girl to David Zayas's obstinate middle-classer, to Thompson's whiny girlfriend. And don't even get me started on the Jarrod/Terry characters (seriously, I know they say to "write what you know", but seriously, a film about artists and SFX guys in LA? Gag). In fact, when the military begins to make their eventual attacks on the alien ships, I sincerely hoped that we would get some military characters to interact with, because a bad-ass warior couldn't have been nearly as dull as watching these upper-class dandies try to make it on their own as the whole city crumbles around them. Sadly, that wasn't to be. Whenever a character is killed, we simply don't care because they're mostly assholes anyway.

I guess... the party's over?
The story actually revolves in a slow circle as the group constantly tries to escape, are driven back into their building, then try to escape again on a perpetual loop that gets old fast. There's nothing that hasn't been done in a dozen films before, and the whole thing reeks of a cheap Independence Day knock-off. Just like ID4, aliens position themselves over the major cities of the world and unleash hell upon the unsuspecting populace. Unlike that much better film, Skyline features only a small claustrophobic storyline, with the government's response to the alien menace largely unknown. What made the 1996 blockbuster so great was it's vision of the invasion from several different angles, with never a dull moment. With Skyline, the dull moment encapsulates the entire experience. Also, the film believability completely collapses when we first see the aliens in person, ALSO looking like ID4 clones. In fact, all the monsters that appear in this film look remarkably like aliens from just about EVERY sci-fi film you've seen in the last twenty years, So, hey, way to go, guys.

Oh, man. The new neighbors' dog shit in our flower bed!
The only thing worse than sitting through Skyline yesterday was discovering that the Strause brothers intend it to be the first of a SERIES of films that they intend to produce. The fact that they could sit through the final edits of this hunk of trash and say "Yeah, let's make another one!" is so absurd to me, I must end this review my directing my final comments directly to them. Ahem:

Dear Greg and Colin,

After seeing your film Skyline, I must protest your intentions to make another of it's ilk. Seriously, Skyline is the first film this year that SERIOUSLY made me consider it over Legion as worst movie of 2010. I was willing to forgive you for AVP: Requiem because of the R-rating and gore, not to mention the classic monsters, but Skyline proves to me that the two of you are far better at special effects supervising than you are at directing and ANY ATTEMPTS to make more movies should be left in a dark closet for all time. Gentlemen, just because crack exists doesn't mean you should smoke it, and just because you CAN make movies doesn't mean you SHOULD. I will most likely watch any film you do the SFX for and probably enjoy it, but any further directing attempts will only be met with scorn and derision from my corner. I appeal to your logic and hope you will see reason soon. There is only one right answer, and it is not a Skyline sequel. When I see Battle: Los Angeles next year, I am sure it will be the film I was expecting from you this time around. Thank you for your time, and I hope never to review another one of your directed films.

John "Gianni" Anderson
The Latest Issue


brian said...

The first forty minutes of this piece of shit, I thought I was watching the latest failed pilot on Fox....the one that's supposed to cater to "Lost" fans.

Catherine said...

Yo, let's not take down Halloween candy in all of this. I always felt fine after gorging.