Sunday, November 14, 2010

SF Movie Review - Skyline

skyline poster Yesterday I toddled off to Skyline which I had been anticipating ever since I viewed the trailer. However, given how many trailers these days include pretty much the best a movie has to offer and can be completely misleading , I went with cautious expectations. Good thing too, because this one is a definite stinker.

* * * SPOILERS AHEAD * * *

On the positive side, it had great special effects but everything else is a mess. As for the other aspects, Skyline has a meandering amateurish script, lousy pacing and mediocre acting. The movie begins on a positive note launching quickly into the action as the invasion begins and people are swept into the sky into the alien ships with our main characters watching from their penthouse apartment. Then it grinds to a halt as it gives us a flashback to show us the why fore and wherefore of how our young couples met. This section proceeds glacially for 20 minutes or so until we return to where we left off. Obviously the point was to provide background and create empathy for our characters who would shortly be in an imminent life-threatening situation. It didn’t accomplish that, we are given uninteresting situations and dull dialogue.
image The character dynamics are weak. Women filmgoers may even be affronted by the ineffectual  women in this film cowering behind their men. An unsympathetic gold-digger personal assist, a jealous wife (Brittany Daniel), a head-in-the-sand girlfriend (Scottie Thompson), a cheating husband (Donald Faison) and aimless boyfriend (Eric Balfour) and a stock alpha male represented by the apartment supervisor (David Zayas) make up the primary cast. The best dynamic is between the two male buddies, with neither charismatic enough to carry the film alone. Unfortunately one of them (Faison) is killed off early on. Balfour is not  up to carrying the film from that point.

The film borrows liberally from its SF predecessors, the alien fliers are reminiscent of the ships from the Matrix, several scenes where they are trapped and being searched for by alien scouts combine elements from War of the Worlds (the Tom Cruise version) and Alien. The light in the windows from Close Encounters and even the demise of the gold digger comes from Jurassic Park. All of the remaining characters fall into Star Trek red-shirt  territory and are just there as victims.

skyline-balfour The usual battles take place, the aliens seem invincible despite a few small successes. Damaged aliens and ships resurrect themselves.  There is never an explanation of why or what the aliens are doing there to provide some context or big picture. Everybody dies except the girlfriend and she is captured. From a plot perspective the most interesting moments occur in the last few minutes of the movie. There we see the the couple among piles of bodies of those sucked into the ship. The alien tentacles rip of heads and consume the brains (why we’re not sure) and then birth new aliens. Eric Balfour is eaten next, only the girlfriend remains. WAIT! This isn’t an SF movie its a ZOMBIE movie! BRAINS!

The small twist has the alien birthed from Balfour’s brain retaining some memory and intelligence as he protects his girlfriend from the rest of his brother aliens.  THE END.

Now if they had only introduced that story element half way through, we might have had an interesting picture. Overall a disappointing film. Wait to see this one until it hits the 99 cent bin at your DVD rental store.Two stars out of five.

9 comments:

  1. Thanks for the head's up. That's exactly what I wanted to know.

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  2. I haven't seen it yet, and I'm probably going to wait for it to become available on Netfilx before I do, but I did read a very interesting review of the movie on SomethingAwful. Doug, I'm curious what you think of his interpretation of the film.

    http://www.somethingawful.com/d/current-movie-reviews/unstoppable-skyline-glory.php?page=2

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  3. I agree with your with your individual negative assessments of Skyline, SciFiGuy. In particular, I too found Day 1 of Skyline that dealt with the group of friends gazing out of the windows of the penthouse apartment at the devastation caused by initial light-bridge body stealing to be a real momentum stopper. I didn’t find any of the main characters particularly likable or sympathetic. However, there were still moments of Skyline that were interesting and exciting. Unfortunately, most of these moments took place on Day 3 and in sporadic fashion at that. The main difficulty with Skyline is that the story is told from the perspective of ordinary people that have little to no understanding of the alien events that are occurring around them. This puts added pressure on the visuals of the film to give important narrative information to the viewer. Despite the outstanding visual effects, the directors still haven’t grasped what makes audiences pull for characters in a film; nor were they capable of communicating the details of the aliens’ motivations beyond the obvious ones. I left the theater at the end of Skyline feeling like I had watched the first half of an above –average TV mini-series. I do hope that despite the poor reviews and the lackluster first weekend grosses that the makers of Skyline will be able to finish the story that they began with this film.

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  4. We had plans to go see Skyline this weekend but ended up not going because of this and that. I was really wanting to go this one. Looks like it was a good thing we weren't able to make this movie. I'll keep an eye out for it in the .99 bin. ;) Or better yet, it'll show up on Netflix as an Instant Queue movie.

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  5. Maria glad it helps. Certainly not worth 10 bucks.

    La Coccinelle I wouldn't quite say it was terrible just mediocre. As usual the trailer made it seem more than it is and of course you can't judge a script or the acting from a trailer.

    Lisa His review is a bit of an artificial construct. I don’t think he can know what was in the film makers mind. If it was their intent to make the whole thing an exercise in SFX as philosophy then it is completely self-indulgent and not an excuse for horrible acting and sub standard writing. The two are not mutually exclusive. An interesting interpretation but methinks he is trying to make a silk purse out of a sows ear.

    Doc the first couple of days also had continuity issues with shifting time, it was dark then it was light then they are sleeping then they are not etc. Very uneven. I agree completely with your observation that they were ordinary folk and not plugged into the answers. If a sequel does get made (and I think the chances are slim) starting where this one left off would make a much more interesting film. It did feel like a setup for juicier stuff. One thing the film could do with is a little humour. It took itself far too seriously.

    Donna sounds like a good plan to me.

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  6. Ha! Glad to hear it's not worth price of theater admission.

    However, I do have one question--is it MSTable?

    <3,
    -J

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  7. Jess oh yes MST would take this one apart. There is a lot of cliched lines and dumbass and TSTL moments in this one.

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  8. Excellent! The Sunday Movie Madness crowd is always on the lookout for craptacular movies to MST. This one's going on the Netflix queue. :D

    <3,
    -J

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