Movie Review: Skyline (2010)
Aliens that appear to swim in the air like those machines from The Matrix, having too many eyes and the ability to lure in captives with shining light, come to earth to kidnap human beings. That’s what the science fiction film Skyline is about.
But I needn’t mention that it’s science fiction. This film goes so far out of its way to remind the audience of that fact that it’s pitiful. There aren’t that many scenes where blue light from alien crafts and eyes aren’t glaring back at us, or where floating alien droids invading apartment buildings with their long, octopus arms can’t be seen with an inexplicably high level of interest in a measly few humans hunkered down in one particular high-rise apartment complex.
These aliens operate a lot like those from Independence Day (1996), but these are after human beings for biological reasons instead of an outright desire to destroy the species. The military is a little slow to respond, not to mention outmatched by this blue-lighted, alien technology. But who wouldn’t be when you turn on fifty-quadrillion LED flashlights?
And this mass invasion that immediately put earth at war with extraterrestrials has caused a “mass” panic with fewer people than I’ve ever seen in a big budget production. I guess that’s what frees up the aliens’ time, allowing them to invade apartment buildings and grab up human beings with those long, creepy octopus arms—just not enough subjects running around panicking on the streets to experiment on in Los Angeles, so it would seem.
L.A. is the scene of the action. It is where two friends and their families met up a day earlier. Eric Balfour (24’s “Milo”) is Jarrod, married to Elaine (Scottie Thompson). Both are happy with their lives, but Jarrod's friend Terry (Donald Faison) springs on them that he wants them to move out to L.A. to continue doing business. But that’s as far as the discussion goes. We meet nearly all of the cast in the movie at a party the night before the attacks begin, very reminiscent of what we saw in Cloverfield (2008).
But Cloverfield had an on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense that just about made you crap your pants. This one, on the other hand, is a poorly acted, scifi-on-steroids melodrama that wants acclaim as an action flick while practically begging intelligent viewers to walk out or turn it off.
It is a technical show-off, all over the map in terms of whom it seeks to impress, which is apparently anyone who wants to see an apartment-full of survivors repeat intense exclamations in a crisis (“Open the door,” “Like it or not, you gotta be strong,” and “He's right. Someone's going to come, right?”) Watch as a security guard with a commanding presence (David Zayas) tries to put a credible plan of action together when the ones before it failed. Take a still-shot of these aliens at any point and you have a perfect screensaver or free blog template header pic.
But any drooling dimwit who is impressed with alien octopus technology and extraterrestrial blue lighting alone is going to be totally, totally impressed! If that is all you are looking for, then this is your film. But those with a respectable level of intelligence deserve to know: This steaming pile of doo-doo is a scrapheap re-put-together of The Matrix, Independence Day, and Cloverfield.
There will come a time (I hope it has not yet passed us by!) when entertainment will step up to prefer story over striking effects. I think it is a time still in the future because the novelty of shiny things and space aliens has not yet worn off. I’m going to be optimistic and say we’re just not there yet.
Grade: D- (1 star)
Rated: PG-13 (for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some language, and brief sexual content)
Directors: Colin Strause, Greg Strause
Summary: Strange lights descend on the city of Los Angeles, drawing people outside like moths to a flame where an extraterrestrial force threatens to swallow the entire human population off the face of the Earth.
Starring: Eric Balfour "Jarrod," Scottie Thompson "Elaine," Brittany Daniel "Candice," Crystal Reed "Denise," Neil Hopkins "Ray," David Zayas "Oliver," Donald Faison "Terry"
Genre: Sci-Fi / Thriller