Tuesday 16 August 2011

Movie Review: Skyline (2010)

A monster movie with plenty of special effects and little else, it's only the shiny technology that raises Skyline above made-for-TV fare. A B-movie cast spouts B-movie lines while scary aliens terrorize mankind, but thanks to enormous computer processing power, some of the imagery is striking.

Jarred (Eric Balfour), a struggling artist, and his newly pregnant girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson) are on a visit to Los Angeles. Eric is reconnecting with his rich friend Terry (Donald Faison), and after enjoying a wild birthday bash, Jarred and Elaine sleep in the guest room of Terry's swanky apartment. During the night, mysterious blue light beams are unleashed onto Los Angeles. Any human who looks at the blue light is mesmerized, deformed and sucked up into the spaceships of hideous aliens resembling the descendants of the creature from the black lagoon, operating vessels that look like overgrown bottom-feeding ocean beasts.

With Los Angeles in carnage, the US military attempts a meek fight-back against the overwhelming strength and advanced technology of the aliens. Jarred, Elaine, Terry, and a few others who survived the initial assault have to decide between hiding and attempting to flee as the aliens start brutally efficient house-house searches to capture the few remaining humans.

Continuing in the recent tradition of movies such as Cloverfield, Skyline takes the perspective of the inconsequential, easily squished victims of rampaging monsters. The grand plan of the alien invasion remains elusive, and the US military fightback is a noisy but tangential backdrop to the tribulations of powerless civilians witnessing the literal end of their world.

Greg and Colin Strause (billing themselves as the brothers Strause) directed and co-produced with a strict focus on technology. The monsters and the spaceships are the stars of the show, supported by impressive vistas of Los Angeles being summarily destroyed. Shortchanged in this vision is any emphasis on the human drama, and Skyline is hampered by TV-level actors appropriately matched to an inane script that struggles to find a single original idea or innovative line of dialogue.

Skyline is a strict showcase of computer programming capabilities, with a heart as cold as the hardware.

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