Thursday, November 11, 2010

Probing the Depths of SKYLINE ...!


- Ladies and gentleman, I come to you as a movie fan absolutely floored by the complete and utter terribleness that is Skyline. On just about every level, the movie is awful, insulting, and just plain embarassing. The movie's only real redeeming quality is that parts of it are just so shockingly bad, without a single shred of self-awareness of said badness, that the movie is sure to provoke unintentional laughter, howls of disbelief, and at least one or two instances where your jaw is seriously left hanging on the floor as you think to yourself "W.T.F. just happened?"

Watching Skyline is sort of like going to a friend's house and watching them play a sort-of-cool-looking videogame. Sure, you're intrigued, but you quickly get frustrated because you're only getting a fraction of the experience that you would be if you were the one actually playing. Skyline is also like Independence Day, except instead of actually *watching* Independence Day, you're watching other ancillary characters *watching* the events of Independence Day transpire through their apartment window. So right from the get-go, the premise of the movie inherently sort of sucks, because the idea is that intergalactic war is breaking out in LA, complete with giant alien battles and firefights, and yet we're stuck with a group of unlikable douchenozzles as they run around their swanky apartment building and wonder what they should be doing.

Now, there have been plenty of cool genre movies over the years that have worked around low budgets and limited scope by being creative, cool, and giving us great characters. Take the premise of Skyline and put it in the hands of a John Carpenter, and hey, you just might have something there. But Carpenter made awesome, low-budget sci-fi movies that worked because he brought a dark sense of self-aware humor, and he actually had a sense of imagination, fun, and the ability to give us iconic characters that we cared about and rooted for. Who are we supposed to root for in Skyline? Eric Balfour's zero-personality charisma vaccuum of a character who inexplicably ends up as some sort of Neo-like chosen-one savior? When you are rooting for your main character to bite it from Scene 1, hey, not a good sign. Every "character" in Skyline flat-out sucks. You hate all of them. It's crazy, really. I mean - who - WHO - thought that *these* should be our main characters? It's just beyond all reason or logic. They all come off as self-absorbed, whiny, stupid asshats. They don't act like normal people ... at all. Hours after the first signs of freaking ALIEN INVASION, one character suggests they turn on the TV news to find out what's going on, and everyone else congratulates her on this brilliant idea. Are you serious?! Really?!?!

The script in this movie is godawful. Like I said, there is no logic, no sense of realism, no sense of fun, no humor, no plot, no characterization worth a damn. It's mostly just the main characters running up the stairs of their building, then down, then up again.

But really, the acting is just as horrendous. I had no real opinion on Eric Balfour before this movie. He didn't make much of an impression on me when he appeared on 24 a few years back, but ... holy lord ... he is abysmal in Skyline. Not that he's given anything to work with, but the terrible dialogue combined with his wooden acting makes for some absolutely cringe-worthy moments. The rest of the cast is just bad. The actress who plays Balfour's girlfriend, again, I know she didn't have a lot to work with, I get it. But she turns in one of the most annoying performances I've ever seen in an action movie. I mean, really, really bad.

The worst thing is that the movie almost seems to actively punch you in the gut and then rub salt on the wound. You'd think Skyline would have some sense of its own crappiness and thus not try to draw things out too much. Oh, hells no. Skyline practically taunts you with how "epic" of a movie it is, dividing itself into three parts - Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3. When the "Day 2" graphic flashed on screen, a man in our audience just shook his head and said "wow, that was a hell of a long Day 1." And you know what? We all nodded in agreement. Epic *fail* is more like it. Seriously though, Skyline has so many moments that are so jaw-droppingly absurd, yet played straight, as though we are supposed to be watching high-drama on the grandest scale. It's amazing, the complete lack of self-awareness. I mean, a climactic kiss between our two leads - the circumstances surrounding it were so lame, so stupid - that despite the swelling music, the attempt at gravitas and melodrama - all anyone in the audience could do was laugh / groan / commit ritual suicide.

And I will just say this: this movie has one of the WORST, most mind-blowingly bad "shocker" endings I've ever seen in a film. Now hearing this, you're probably thinking it's some big twist like "it's all a dream" or something. Nope, nothing like that. It's more the fact that the movie ends up in such a random, WTF place - a place that has absolutely NOTHING to do with anything that the film's been leading up to up to that point. And then it just ENDS. If we lived in a less civil society, this is the kind of ending that literally makes you want to hurl garbage at the screen for how poorly conceived and absurd it is. I almost want people to see the movie just so they can comprehend how bad this is, but it's not worth it. Ask me or look it up online. It's just so dumb you have to laugh, because it's one of those things where you can tell *someone* thought it was this clever, cool way to end the film, but that person was probably either a trained monkey, or nine years old.

Now, I will give credit to the film's f/x team. There is some pretty cool visual stuff going on here, and some nice design on the aliens and alien ships (even if they do tend to ripoff Independence Day, a lot). But here's the thing - there are a couple of randomly sweet action scenes in the movie, but they have NOTHING TO DO with our main characters or the main action of the film. It's like "Oh hey, check it out, there's an awesome stealth bomber vs. alien spaceship battle going on - cool! Okay, now back to the super lame movie you were watching two minutes ago." It's like a really bad videogame that has a couple of nice-looking cut scenes. And hey, maybe these f/x guys will go on to make a cool videogame or something, I don't know. But my point is - the couple of cool action sequences are total anomalies. Mostly, the direction of the film is stilted, bland, ineffective, and does absolutely nothing to heighten the drama of the story.

I wanted to root for Skyline. We've seen some really great lower-budget sci-fi movies in the last couple of years that have proven that you don't need a blockbuster budget to create something awesome and cool and thought-provoking. I'm thinking of films like District 9 and Moon, films that schooled the big tentpole movies in terms of delivering bang for the buck. Skyline is the antithesis of those films - a quick, dirty, scraped-together cash-in that wants desperately to be badass and cool but is just offensively bad in every way possible. A total trainwreck, through and through.

My Grade: F

No comments:

Post a Comment