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Skyline (2010) *

November 12, 2010

  

written by: Joshua Cordes and Liam O’Donnell

produced by: Liam O’Donnell, Brothers Strause and Kristian Andresen

directed by Brothers Strause

rated PG-13 (for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some language, and brief sexual content)

100 min.

U.S. release date: November, 12, 2012

  

The tagline for “Skyline” reads “Don’t Look Up!”, when it should just read “Don’t”. I might as well put it out there early on, since this derivative and insipid film has officially been added to my Worst Films of 2010 list. The first 13 minutes of the film confirmed that for me. This coming from a guy who’s always liked alien invasion movies, as well as seeing Los Angeles blow up. It’s no surprise that the only shocking moments in this movie are the same scenes that can be found in the trailer. This movie should be shown in film school as an example of how not to make an intergalactic war.   

The first painfully obvious sign that this is similar to “Cloverfield” is in the bland thirtysomething actors that barely inhabit the stock characters given to them. I honestly do think more capable actors could have done something more with this awful dialogue, but this “talent” should stick to the Syfy movie of the week.

Landing in Los Angeles (from who knows where), Jarrod (Eric Balfour, the emotionally limited master of dumb looks) and his girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson, currently appearing in the Bon Jovi video What Do You Got?) hook up with Jarrod’s old bro and hip-hop partner, Terry (a stereotypically serviceable Donald Faison) in his sweet high-rise digs in Marina del Rey. There’s the requisite partying the night before the aliens come, in which it is revealed that Terry needs Jarrod to move to L.A. to be his business partner and that Elaine is pregnant (thanks for almost vomiting in the airplane so the audience could catch on while your dim-bulb boyfriend asks, “Are you okay?”). Oh no! What else could possibly happen?   

  

  

SKYLINE Still 1

  

How about waking up to an alluring beams of blue light that penetrates through any available crack. Outside their apartment, they hear sounds of rumbling and clanking that could be an earthquake, but we know better. It’s the full-scale alien invasion we’ve been waiting for since the actors first uttered a line. These aliens couldn’t get here any sooner and the more we’re left with these actors, the more we want to be pulled into the blue light and taken into those enormous organic ships hovering over L.A.

As reality slowly sinks in for Jarrod (and I mean real slow), he and his gang, along with a building worker (David Zayas of “Dexter” fame, wins the award for the single tolerable actor here), realize they must attempt to escape the building and find safety, instead of watching in horror as humans are sucked up into the sky.

Screenwriters Joshua Cordes and Liam O’Donnell must have taken their final project from Insipid Dialogue 101 and turned it into this banal drivel. It is completely devoid of any clever, original, or emotionally intelligent lines. And I was prepared for that going in. I knew this was going to be heavy on CGI heavy and light on characterization. After all, Waukegan, Illinois natives Colin Strause and Greg Strause, aka The Brothers Strause (cuz, they’re brothers don’t ya know!) are extremely talented in technical eye candy. They founded visual effects  company Hydraulyx back in 2002, which has provided effects for “300”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and “Avatar”, to name a few.

That’s impressive, yet their history as directors is not. Let’s think back to that Christmas gift the brothers gave us back in 2007, you remember “Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem”, don’t you? That’s what I thought. Well, like “Skyline’, it didn’t have any advance screenings for critics either. I’ve learned the hard way that is always a bad sign.

SKYLINE Still 2

 

At first, the aliens are cool-looking, but then, as we see more of them, we’re just reminded of other movies. There are tentacled scouts that have a resemblance to “Matrix” designs and those nasty muthas from “Independance Day”. They also resemble flying vaginas but that’s not all that uncommon in attacking alien movies. No less bizarre though. These worker aliens come pouring out of the giant ships, searching for brains. No really, it’s eventually revealed that these aliens are seeking out human brains, complete with spinal cord! What ever for? They are clearly more advanced than we are, right? Why would they need our grey matter? Not that it matters, not that it would help the movie to know, and not like we’d actually be given that information.

I’ll give credit to the Brothers Strause for playing to their talents and making this low-budget thriller for a mere ten million. Steering clear of the Hollywood machine, allowed them to cut costs and call the shots without any suits second-guessing what they do. Indeed, I applaud that approach, but they failed. Maybe they should’ve had more advisors, at least a better casting agent (although since all their money went to visuals, I doubt they had money for a competent cast) and a script doctor or two.  

SKYLINE Still 3

 

The Brothers Strause add even more insult to cinematic injury by showing us other parts of the world where these aliens have wreaked havoc. It’s a sequence shown in countless invasion movies, that made me groan in my seat us even more. Cheap thrills and annoying shrills is one thing, but lazy filler shots are inexcusable. This movie actually made me respect the likes of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich.

These two know no boundaries though, as can be seen in their tacked-on ending set in one of the spacecrafts. It’s gratuitous and even more of a riff of other films and video games, that asks you to anticipate another movie….maybe a direct-to-DVD sequel. If this movie does big numbers opening weekend, then I wish all those viewers would get sucked in the sky and have their brain checked. What we have here is a January throwaway release trying to liven up your November. It’s not happening, so don’t let it.

 

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Amy Stewart-Cooper permalink
    November 12, 2010 1:01 pm

    Thank you for saving me some money.

  2. windi permalink
    November 13, 2010 7:45 pm

    I think I saw the previews a couple of times, and was not impressed. Even the preview looked stupid. Somehow, I could tell this was not going to be another ‘Independence Day’! LOL

  3. November 14, 2010 7:32 pm

    Rubbish eh? I was really looking forward to seeing this film, but then again I thought it was going to be about the cool sports car.

    Thanks for saving me a few beans though!

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