Directed by: The Brothers Strause
Cast: Eric Balfour, Donald Faison, Scottie Thompson, David Zayas, Neil Hopkins
Running Time: 1 hr 32 mins
Release Date: November 12, 2010
PLOT: A group of thirty-somethings in Los Angeles have their swanky lives put on hold when a swarm of aliens attack our planet, sucking our brains out for energy.
WHO’S IT FOR? People who enjoy paying eleven dollars for Hollywood experiences with lots of special effects and the same heart and mental capacity of crap like Silent Venom.
We should have seen it coming. With movies like Cloverfield, Transformers, and even Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, we should have known that one day these types of movies would combine powers and unleash one big bland attack on our multiplexes. While it seems like we haven’t had a good ol’ straight-up intergalactic alien invasion in a while, here comes Skyline to remind us why we’ve been better off without one.
Before the Strause Brothers got their computer-glued hands shooting around their Los Angeles condominium (seriously) for Skyline, there was a script. How such a collection of paper found its way out of its original home of scripts meant for straight-to-DVD features is beyond physics. Regardless, this script, no matter how many studio executives it may have passed through, or times the actors looked at it to remember their lines like, “Something’s happening!” never changed. How did the Strause Brothers do their directorial jobs of doctoring this screenplay? They bashed their identical looking faces together and said that they could make something special out of it by making the story’s aliens look believable.
Skyline borrows so heavily from the Transformers playbook that it even uses the font in the credits as Michael Bay’s bigger yet equally dumb space toy saga. Just like the potential epic element of the action scenes in Transformers, Skyline is a collection of bland exterior shots, with tons of CGI dumped into the image to make it supposedly become “more than meets the eye.”
This methodology backfires on Skyline as the environments used are clearly unaffected by the chaos; massive explosions happen within the confines of the apartment, and not a window breaks outside. Thrifty filmmaking is always something to support, but no budget of a film taking itself seriously can sneak by standard physics without paying for it.
Instead of giant robots, Skyline stars giant robot aliens, who in some meta-nod the CGI art form feed off of brainpower (Note: This is what we call irony, as Skyline is itself braindead.) And instead of a slightly likable protagonist who woos audiences with his innocent yet all-American adolescent ways, we have … snobs in Los Angeles.
Our main hero looks like he’s the ex-bassist to Vanilla Ice’s rap-metal group, while his friend cheats on his wife and brags about his success. (As this friend, Donald Faison can’t shake off the fact that he was once Zach Braff’s sidekick on “Scrubs.”) The females are written with such dull pencils that even the one who’s pregnant fails to hit any nerve, even though this cheap characteristic (“Is pregnant”) has worked before. In the midst of this Alien Invasion 2010, we are forced to follow non-heroic main characters that don’t give us much reason to support their survival. We root more for a general satisfying conclusion of the story than its peaceful treatment of such characters.
… And the conclusion we are given by Skyline should be nominated for “Strangest Epilogue of the Year,” alongside Leonardo DiCaprio’s totem twirl in Inception. One can only imagine the few audience members that will have a nerd-gasm when the movie cuts to black, at a moment that would require real special effects (and a real movie). They’ll have their own “fight” over who wins the end, but they still won’t even know what the violent alien species in Skyline are even called. Suckers.
Directed by “The Brothers Strause,” two brothers who have multiple digital effects credits to their name more than directed films, Skyline is not a movie so much as it is a varied continuation of theories posited by movies like Avatar. Can special effects themselves direct a movie? The answer is a big yawn. Followed by a big “No.” A movie can’t save itself from Syfy “Original Movie” status on special effects alone. If the script is totally generic as compared to the effects, the faults of such a film will become even more glaring. An audience will not hop on board just because your film features a nondescript dogfight of humans vs. aliens. We need something more important to involve us in the experience, and to keep us from mentally categorizing it as a waste of money. Either that, or the film should work against itself, or have a sense of humor. So, why couldn’t the script for Sharktopus get the Skyline treatment instead?
FINAL SCORE: 3/10