Skyline

Skyline puts me in an odd position: I couldn’t wait for it to be over, but I’d love to see the sequel it promises. The visual-effects veterans who directed it, Greg and Colin Strause, very obviously lay the groundwork for Skyline 2 in the final moments, wherein a character gets his head torn off and his entire brain and nervous system implanted into an alien body. This character apparently survived the process with his human consciousness and conscience intact, and the last shot finds him in a heroically defiant stance, like some insane hybrid of paintings by Frank Frazetta and H.R. Giger. I sort of wished the preceding 95 minutes had been telescoped into five minutes, because the real movie seems to begin here, with Big Ugly Dude ready to fight other Big Ugly Dudes to save mankind. If Skyline were a comic book, it might be an origin story.

As it stands now, Skyline feels like feature-length padding. We spend most of our time with a few people, played by actors familiar from TV (Eric Balfour, Donald Faison), as they try to make sense of what’s happening to Los Angeles. Aliens have come, some looking like biomechanical mollusks, all looking great; they were designed by veteran monster-makers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr., and they have a slimy, ominous fluidity as they float next to L.A. buildings and scan the windows for any humans inside. The main characters rarely venture outside, so we’re stuck with them inside a few swanky apartments for almost the whole movie. A recent episode of Community that never left the study room knowingly called itself a “bottle episode,” industry slang for a TV segment that saves money by sticking to one location; Skyline, I guess, is a bottle movie.

Illogic abounds here. Donald Faison and his girlfriend try to escape in his car, which gets promptly smashed by a giant alien foot; seconds later, Faison tumbles out of the car without a scratch. The military gets involved, blowing alien spacecraft out of the sky, along with the thousands of still-living people that have been sucked up inside them. The human characters are generally so dumb that one wonders why the aliens are so keen to collect their brains. The dumbness extends to incidental stuff in the script, such as a joke about a same-sex blowjob that’s broadcast, unbeknownst to the participants, via webcam to laughing partygoers pre-invasion. Really? After what happened to Tyler Clementi, you had to leave that joke in, guys?

But then this is a movie in which a character very adamantly feels that the best line of defense against the aliens is bedsheets taped over the windows. I kind of loved that detail, as well as a bit when a pregnant woman stands away from a smoker to protect her baby while all hell breaks loose everywhere in L.A., or when a character gets a gorgeously cheesy final line before blowing up an alien attacker. The only consistent thing about Skyline is its stupidity — sometimes bad, insulting stupidity, sometimes good, entertaining stupidity. Then there’s that ending, which portends the sort of stupidity I’d like to see more of.

Explore posts in the same categories: one of the year's worst, science fiction

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