It’s a bad sign when the sneak preview for a movie is an hour before its release date. Seriously. Sure, we could believe that the studio didn’t have time to organize screenings or that this movie “isn’t for critics,” but most times it’s because the movie is garbage and the studio doesn’t want advance word to leak out before folks shill out for the opening weekend. Though judging from the audience I watched Skyline with, folks couldn’t wait to tweet their outrage at this pile of cinematic poo.
“Where do you see yourself?” –Terry
The movie is directed by the Brothers Strause, whose company Hydraulx has provided visual effects for Avatar, Iron Man 2, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and 300. At an hour and a half, they could have still snipped the first twenty minutes of Skyline as it gives you nothing but exposition about characters you won’t like anyway. Seriously. You have a couple, Jarrod (Eric Balfour, Haven, 24, Six Feet Under) and Elaine (Scottie Thompson), who fly to L.A. for Jarrod’s buddy, Terry (Donald Faison, Scrubs), who has made it big and is having a party. After the party, mysterious lights appear and aliens invade.
The aliens use this like to lure and suck up humans like some science fiction version of the rapture, which, mind you, would have made a much more interesting movie complete with allegory. No such risk of depth here. This movie is what it is, aliens running around in essentially “Mars needs brains” mode and a handful of humans doing their best to elude them. That’s it. Seriously. You start rooting for the aliens to hurry up and eat all of them if only to spare us the pain of watching anymore of the movie. I will point out that the aliens pland demonstrates poor recon on their part as they could have just raided us on college football Saturday and sucked up a bunch of stadiums worth of people with no effort. I will also say that we have come a long way as a people when it’s the black guy in the horror/sci-fi movie that says “let’s check it out.”
You learn to not ask why in this movie. The most satisfactory answer you have is “just cause”. So we got aliens running around like a pet dog, just cause. A strange light that draws people out, just cause. The light having some sort of effect on bodies, just cause. People who feel compelled to shoot hand guns at vessels that have traveled through the rigors of space, just cause.
So you have a few humans running around trying to survive. Mind you, since all of the budget went to the effects, the only set they really have is up and down a building. What are they? Who are they? Things like that don’t seem to matter. You are supposed to enjoy the ride or sheer spectacle. A rollercoaster ride of survival against an implacable enemy. But most of the action plays out as if you’re watching a video game. Worse, watching someone watch a video game play out.
With no plot really to work with—they aren’t trying to escape, they aren’t trying to find their way home a la War of the Worlds, they aren’t even having any end of the world conversations; they just hole up in a building and wait—the movie becomes about the characters. Again, for emphasis, none of whom you know or much like. The only thing worse than a character being a cipher is a character being a cipher you don’t want to get to know.
“How can you be so sure?” –Elaine
Considering the directors pedigree, obviously some of the special effects were nice. So someone somewhere along the line was willing to spend money. Just not on things like a coherent script. There is literally not enough story to latch onto any sort of deeper meaning. It’s … alien invasion porn: no story, just folks going through the motions.
To sum up, Skyline is Cloverfield plus War of the Worlds with a dash of The Matrix (the second two) combined for a huge pile of suck. And just when you think it’s over, it has a whole new level of untapped suck to take you to. The sad thing is that folks are going to read this review then I’m going to get e-mails about how it “wasn’t that bad.” You’re wrong. It was worse. Seriously.