Skyline

Anyone who has known me for a while or has read my reviews knows I’m a science-fiction fan.  While my tastes are somewhat narrow you can pique my interest in a movie or TV show if you tell me it has some sci-fi elements.  I’m more than willing to give anything with spaceships, aliens, ray guns, quantum singularities, supernovas and anything else otherworldly and fantastical more than a fair chance to impress me.  At the same time, you can’t slap funny nose or extended forehead on an actor, say he’s from another planet, and just expect me to roll over and love it without question.  The story needs to at least appear to have been given serious thought and have some level of believability and common sense to go along with the flashy visuals.  In this week’s movie, “Skyline,” somewhere along the creative path, someone decided to let the special effects carry the movie and leave the story to fend for itself.  That’s not a good idea.

Jerrod and Elaine (Eric Balfour and Scottie Thompson) are visiting Terry (Donald Faison) in Los Angeles.  Terry is a famous rapper and has invited his childhood buddy Jerrod out to LA for a Terry’s birthday party to be held in his penthouse apartment.  Terry’s girlfriend Candice (Brittany Daniel) and his assistant Denise (Crystal Reed) are also constant fixtures around the penthouse.  Jerrod is an artist and Terry wants him to move to LA and work for him.  Elaine isn’t thrilled about the idea, especially after she and Jerrod catch Terry fooling around with Denise in a bathroom during the party.  Elaine is also pregnant and concerned about how this will affect her relationship with Jerrod.  After the party while everyone is sleeping, blue lights descend from the sky all around the city.  Anyone who looks at the lights becomes hypnotized by them, their eyes glazing over and their skin becoming mottled as they are drawn in and suddenly pulled towards their source:  Alien space ships lowering themselves over the city.  The ships hover over where the lights have settled on the ground and begin sucking up anyone attracted to them.  Jerrod has looked at the light but Terry intervenes and keeps him in the apartment.  Jerrod recovers after several minutes and he and the others, including building security man Oliver (David Zayas), try to figure out what they should do to survive.

For most of the 100 minute running time of “Skyline,” the characters try to figure out how to get out of the apartment complex where Terry lives.  That is the majority of the story in the film.  They go to the roof but the aliens chase them back.  They try to drive away but the aliens chase them back.  They walk down the stairs, but the aliens chase them back.  There’s a great deal of discussion about leaving the building complex that usually ends with a failed attempt to leave the building complex.  There’s also some useless emotional conflict that has nothing to do with the fact that ALIENS ARE TRYING TO KILL THEM AND EVERYONE ON EARTH!!!!  Why the aliens are doing this is left up to the audience to speculate.  We’re given no clues as to why aliens have come to our planet and are vacuuming up as many Earthlings as possible other than a couple of scenes where people have their brains and spinal cords sucked violently from their heads.  What exactly the brains are used for, other than as some kind of control for alien scout drones, is never explained.

This film should be seen by anyone who is looking to enter the realm of movie making.  It should be taken as an example of what NOT to do when making a sci-fi film.  Having some cool looking spaceships and aliens flying around Los Angeles and sucking up hapless victims is not enough to make a good film.  There also needs to be a story and characters that an audience will care about.  Both are lacking in “Skyline.”  The writers, Joshua Cordes and Liam O’Donnell, apparently only scratched out a rough outline of what they wanted the characters to do; at least, that’s how it seems as the film lurches along in the first act as we head toward the alien encounter.  After the ships descend, all semblance of a story disappears and we are given several chase scenes that always end up back at the apartment.  The movie’s ending also provides no answers and seems to imply the possibility of a sequel.  By the way, the ending caused me to laugh out loud.  It wasn’t a laugh of joy, but of derision.  It was the closest the film came to drawing out of me any real emotion.  I stayed through the end credits, hoping for some kind of surprise resolution; but, even the credits end badly and with no answers.

“Skyline” is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some language, and brief sexual content.  Aside from the brain ripping, there’s not a whole lot of gore in the film.  One alien is dispatched with an ax while another gets rammed by an SUV.  The creatures bleed black blood and emit thick slime from what I assume is their mouths.  The sexual content is fleeting.  Foul language is scattered.

The teaser trailer for “Skyline” featured several actual newscasters talking about a message being sent into space for any intelligent life to pick up and how this might not be a good idea.  This was followed by images of the spaceships sucking up people.  My hopes were high when I saw that trailer, thinking there might be a serious, thoughtful, intelligent look at a possible human/alien encounter and how it might mimic the spread of European settlers to the new world.  What I got was a mess of a movie that has good special effects and not much else.

“Skyline” gets one guitar out of five.

It’s the beginning of the end for a mega-franchise as well as a new action/thriller for one of Hollywood’s biggest stars this week.  Vote for the next film I see and review.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part 1—Harry, Ron and Hermione set out on a perilous mission to track down the secret to Voldemort's destruction -- the Horcruxes.

The Next Three Days—Russell Crowe is a desperate man who risks everything in an elaborate plan to break his wife out of prison.

Stan’s Choice—Stan sees and reviews any film of his choice currently in theatres.

Release dates are subject to change and not all films may be shown in Knoxville, TN.

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