15 November 2010

First Impressions: Skyline

Ahh. What to do about a film like Skyline (2010). Man I was pumped for this movie. I was genuinely pretty excited. Now, I wasn't expecting another District 9 (2009), but this looked like some cutting-edge alien effects with an interesting spin on the invasion-plot, definitely worth a squirt, right?

Shit no. This film was bad. This was really, really bad. But maybe I'm being a bit harsh here. There were some elements of this flick that I did actually really like. They were pretty seldom, but here we go, divided into two major categories, The Good and The Shit.

The Good:

This is the film's money shot, if Skyline was good at all, this would be close to iconic. It's very impressive visually and even awe-inspiring. Indeed most of anything good from this flick comes from the effects. It's no surprise then to learn that this is the first feature production by Hydraulx, which before was only a special effects company. It's for this exact reason that the effects are really the only thing cool about the film. It's also why the main characters are Special Effects workers who live in Santa Monica...where Hydraulx is based. Way to think outside the box with the characters and setting, guys.

The Martians are pretty cool looking, if not in parts rip-offs of War of the Worlds (2005), The Matrix (1999) and Independence Day (1996). The big lumbering Beast with the Hand-Tongues thing was pretty unique though, as is the idea that these huge monsters are "piloted" by smaller monsters. Actually, this doesn't really make sense, nor is it given any explanation ever.

This is one of the things I like and dislike about this film. It didn't have an explanation for the events - no "psychiatrist scene" at the end explaining to the audience what they just saw. This really only works however, with films that can generally be figured out with enough simplicity to make a bit of sense. Cloverfield (2008) works in this regard, because while there's never any scientists suddenly appearing and explaining everything, there's really not that much to explain. The Monster has come because he's a pissed off animal and that's about it. Why the fuck are the aliens in Skyline (SPOIL) stealing human brains and putting them in their own soldiers? Soldiers who then pilot huger, irrational monsters. And why the fuck is Jarrod's red brain so special that he controls his own alien body. Dammit, you need to either explain a little bit or just go in another direction. I'll give Mars Attacks! (1996) as another example of aliens doing weird shit that fit with the overall story without explanation due to tone and ....damn, this was supposed to be the positive side, right?

The film as admirable guts. There are many things that I think the audience genuinely wouldn't expect. Another simultaneous positive and negative is the isolated action. The whole story ends up taking place in and around a single apartment building in Santa Monica, which would be cool in a Die Hard (1988) - sort of way if the action kept flowing around the building. Instead, they almost escape (don't, in a pretty shocking and gutsy scene killing off its most famous actor) and then just go back to where they started with little plot development besides exchanging charismatic actors for uncharismatic ones. Far too much of this movie is the main characters watching the action instead of participating. Part of the thrill of the ending to Independence Day is President Bill Pullman flying along with the Good Ol' Boys. The scumbags in Skyline just watch Predator Drones huddled behind closed blinds. Damn it's hard to keep this positive. Sorry to compare it to so many other films but it's really as if the directors, The Brothers Strause just tried to pack in every cool trope they had ever seen from other invasion movies but really miffed on the execution.

The Shit:

Now, the plot is actually somewhat logical, that is, it follows a logical path (until the ending). There aren't a huge amount of twists and turns or sudden things that happen for no reason involving the story or drastic changes in character. Where the film really faults then is the simple fact that the characters aren't that interesting. When uninteresting characters make decisions in line with their personalities the result is...NOT INTERESTING. The action really looks like a damn effects demo reel. Why the fuck are they just watching it outside? The tension is there but its completely based on reaction to situation, not real problems. I'll again cite Cloverfield as a film that spends a good amount of time organically growing its characters (through a realistic party) and then lets them continue to breathe and grow through the paths they take then interaction between themselves during breaks in the action. Skyline blows a possibly unique "Alien Invasion Hangover" premise almost immediately along with its hook - the cool Blue Light Attraction thing.

Why the hell is Jarrod given special powers and a special red brain? Damnation, that was fucking stupid. Anyway, the poorly constructed characters have even worse actors and there are tons more blown opportunities. You can piece together the night from the opening scenes, which could have been a cool hook that allowed its characters to grow through action. Instead we are treated to this ploddering party that is really uninteresting. Like, the party doesn't seem fun. And then of course, almost the scene identical from the opener just played again. So many stretches of this film are just boring and uninspired. Ugh this sucks. I'm on the shit part, right?

This ending. How can I talk about this ending. If you haven't seen it, I don't know, just don't see it and read this anyway. The film ends with main dude Jarrod and his main bitch, Elaine getting sucked up by the light (which I guess does nothing once they are inside the ships. Gosh darn it.) then Jarrod's brain getting sucked out of his head and placed into an Alien Monster Body. As Preggers Elaine is about to get her baby drilled out of her Vag-Hole, Alien-Monster-Jarrod busts in and kicks everyone's ass in stop-motion freeze-frame credit action shots.

Holy Barbecue Dick, what the fucking hell.

This was probably one of the stupidest endings to any movie ever. It didn't make shit for sense, had no correlation to the previous fear and hiding tone and just doesn't make any kind of logical sense at all. What the hell is supposed to happen next? They will just be killed immediately, they're in the middle of a huge fucking alien ship full of giant monsters and they're only advocates are whiny screaming Pregos and passed out jabronis. Fucking...fucking cock. As it turns out, I hated this movie. I wish it didn't look so cool.

Actually a lot of the CGI gets pretty bad, the broken glass for some reason is laughable, as is some of the dusty shots (why is CGI dust so difficult?). Basically this film comes down to an interesting premise that is just completely wasted and cool looking Alien Monsters. Google Image Search the Monsters, and watch the trailer once for the premise. There. You've now had a better experience with Skyline than I did. Congratulations.

1 comment:

  1. How do you feel about the argument that this works as a B-Movie outside of studio influence? It's just really some hokey shit disguised with passable enough effects that we expect more from it than we should instead of just enjoying the ride.

    Although the ride really isn't that exploitive or enjoyable. Machete works as a B-Movie. Skyline only works as suck.


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