Skyline

The sky is far from the limit.

There are so many things to dislike about this film, I have to address them in the order that they appear on screen.  (This review will have many spoilers.  If you want the spoiler free version, here it is: "Don't see it.  The best stuff is in the trailer.")

First of all, there's the title.  It makes no sense, except insofar as the skyline available to the characters never changes because practically the entire film takes place in one apartment building.  You see, Terry (Donald "Scrubs" Faison) is having a rad birthday party and lives the high life in LA (which means he has a penthouse apartment near the marina and cool automatic window shades) and he invites his bestest friend, Jarrod (Eric "24" Balfour) out for the festivities.  There's some pointless, overengineered drama about "moving to LA" and the excesses of the movie star life and blah blah blah.

Soon enough, the aliens send down their freaky light-show drones that bathe humans in mind altering UV rays.  That's actually a nifty conceit, that the lights brainwash you into helplessness, so the aliens can suck you up into their ships.  (Why?  More on that later.)

So now Jarrod and his useless girlfriend and Terry and his useless wife and his even more useless mistress are stuck in the apartment as alien ships zip around Los Angeles looking for every last human to suck up into their mother vessel.  (It's at this point I wonder why they would go to that much trouble…)  There's a lot of very cliche bather about "should we stay or should we go".  This could have been acceptable, if not for the kernel of the conflict.  Terry wants to go to the marina, because "the aliens aren't over the water."  Brilliant.  Except for the fact that the aliens can FLY.

An attempt to make a run for it does achieve a pretty decent action sequence, involving (a) a close up meeting with one of the creepy, tentacled alien drones, (b) a car-crunching encounter with a sort of elephantine alien with weird mouths on the bottoms of its feet and awesome blue-glowing eyes, (c) a shot of the aliens extracting an unexpectedly blue-glowing brain from a hapless victim, and (d) a deftly accomplished slow-motion chase.  So, not everything about this film angers me.  I particularly enjoyed the alien designs, even though they were an obvious amalgam of ideas from The Matrix, Cloverfield and Independence Day.

The death of one of the characters (I think it was Terry, but at this point do I really care?) and the introduction of another character means that the basic conflict (stay or go) remains, just with different proponents.  And also, the aborted escape means they're back in the same frickin' apartment for the next act of the film.

While the bulk of the movie is supposed to play like War of the Worlds or Cloverfield (everyman's viewpoint), a conveniently place telescope/TV camera in Terry's apartment gives the filmmakers the motivation to throw in some ID4 style fighter sequences, up to and including a nuclear attack on the mothership. I would have liked this movie so much more if they hadn't done the same thing as Independence Day: the nuclear attack just makes the aliens MAD!

Some other characters die (I really can't remember how), and Jarrod and his useless (and pregnant!) girlfriend are on the roof trying to get the attention of some conveniently placed Army soldiers.  Early on in the film (I didn't mention this) Jarrod got a facefull of alien-mind-light, but he was snapped out of its pull.  Ever since, he's had these creepy black things on his skin.  Oh, and he feels "powerful".  So, when one of the tentacled drones attacks and tries to eat his useless girlfriend, he hulks out and… get this… punches the alien a bunch of times!  No, really.  Will Smith got away with a single punch in ID4 after the alien had survived what was probably a very disorienting crash.  Here, it doesn't work at all.  He finally kills the drone by tearing out its stolen blue-glowing human brain!

Jarrod and his useless girlfriend are now on the roof of the superawesome apartment complex near the marina, and the aliens are moving off to savage the carrier fleet that's been attacking them.  The mothership flies directly over Jarrod and his useless girlfriend, sucking them up into its alien belly.  On the way, two things happen.  First, they both see the light again and start to get all black-eyed and creepy-ensnared.  But, second, even though they're currently being brainwashed, they share a final kiss.  (My wife laughed out loud at this moment.)

You think that's the end? That's not the end! Jarrod's useless girlfriend wakes up inside the hellish (though remarkably high-ceilinged) belly of the alien mothership in time to see Jarrod have his brain removed and carried away by a brain-carrying alien.  When it's her turn… they realize she's pregnant!  She is sucked up by what I assume is the pregnant-lady-sucking-tube, and sent to the pregnant-lady-forced-abortion chamber of the ship.

Meanwhile, even though every human brain we've seen to this point in the film glows blue, Jarrod's is RED! While it is never made clear why Jarrod's brain is red, I assume it's because he shook off the alien-mind-light. (Though, if that's the case, I would have to also assume that there are thousands, perhaps millions of other humans that have his same red-brain condition.) Jarrod's red brain is implanted into a strangely humanoid alien/creature/cyborg/whatever. Jarrod's red brain overpowers his captor. We know this because its eyes are RED! Now, the Jarrod-powered alien/creature/cyborg/whatever saves his useless pregnant girlfriend from the alien abortion machine and, as the credits roll, carries her off to… safety, I guess?  Whatever.

So, as a final dig, I have to ask, is it really reasonable to imagine that these aliens would go to this amount of trouble just for human brains?  And are the brains used as actual consciousness (maybe like outboard memory) or as a power source?  And couldn't they have just flown away after they got a couple billion brains in the opening salvo of the invasion?  Is the cost-to-benefit ratio really worth it to send out what I have to assume are MILLIONS of drones to search EVERY building in EVERY city around the world to get EVERY brain?

I guess I shouldn't have expected a better film from a team that calls themselves The Brothers Krause.  Even the Wachowski Brothers aren't that pretentious.

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