Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Review: Skyline

So the other day I decided to foolishly ignore the the fact that my Netflix suggestion told me that it rated the movie "Skyline" at about a 1.8 based on my ratings of other movies. I had seen trailers for it before and thought it looked exciting if nothing else.

Unfortunately, it didn't even have that going for it. I'd warn you about spoilers and to not continue reading and all that except for the fact that if you haven't seen this movie then you are smarter than I am, and if you are feeling that maybe you should check it out, please continue reading so you'll understand what a bad idea that is.
So basically it's an alien movie that surprisingly takes place in Los Angeles. And here I thought aliens only attacked New York City or London. Anyway, the movie starts off well enough by throwing you right into the whole 'person looks into abduction light' and vanishes thing. Then for some odd reason they decide to take you back in time 15 hours, presumably to waste about 30 minutes showing people drinking, making out and enjoying living the high life in LA while completely ignoring a little thing called characterization. By the time we were back to when the aliens showed up I could pretty much predict who was going to live and who was going to die. We start out with our two main characters, Jeanne (not her name in the movie but that was her name on NCIS and I honestly don't remember what her name was in the movie, so she's Jeanne), her boyfriend Milo (also not his name, I think it was Jarrod, but he was Milo in 24), Milo's buddy (who is black and everyone knows the black dude is one of the first to go), and Milo's buddy's two girlfriends. One is the bitchy blond and the other is the sweet brunette. There's also a cop guy who shows up to issue a noise complaint, I'm going to call him Javier, because that was his name in the pilot episode of Burn Notice.

Pretty early on everyone decides that since there's no aliens over the water they must go to the marina and go to Milo's buddy's boat that he mentioned earlier in the movie so they all make their way out. Before they even leave the parking garage, they're attacked by an alien and Milo's buddy gets eaten. Like I said, the black guy always goes first. The aliens then rough up the cars, there's some running and they lose the sweet brunette. Barely five minutes total of alien time and we're already down two characters. I could tell they were going for some kind of record of getting right down to the two I was sure were going to survive: Jeanne and Milo.

Things started to go wrong pretty quickly in this movie. One day I'd like to see a movie where the characters act as though they've ever seen a horror movie or survival movie in their lives. Just once. That's all I ask. But no, instead everyone runs around screaming and they finally go back inside the 20 story high-rise. There's some complaining and Jeanne reveals to everyone she's pregnant which to me made it pretty solid that out of all of them she was going to survive. However, I still don't see anyone worrying about the water getting shut off, or the power going or worrying about the fact that pretty much the only thing they have to drink there should the water go out is a crap load of booze. At least they can die happy, I guess.

Anyway, on to 'Day Two' as the movie says, and there's some more complaining, Milo and Jeanne are both talking about how their bodies are doing some weird staining because they've both looked into the alien light. Cue the dramatic action sequence of some stealth bombers and unmanned drones showing up to harrass the aliens. In what reminded me a little too much of Independence Day (a far superior alien movie, in my opinion) the fighters go after the alien mothership. One stealth bomber survives and manages to launch a bomb at the ship. Meanwhile, Javier has been watching the whole thing through a telescope that is wired to the tv so everyone else can watch. I think it's a sad commentary on human existance that they could have just looked out the window to see what was going on but they instead stared intently at the tv screen. There were a couple of things very wrong with this scene. The first being that Javier seems quite capable of using the telescope to keep up with a particular stealth bomber as it weaves its way through the aliens towards the mothership. Anyone who has tried to keep an eye on a fast moving object through even just a pair of binoculars knows that using a telescope with much higher magnification is a no-go. Then, Javier even manages to keep his eye on the bomb the stealth fighter launched before being destroyed. Javier then discovers it's not just an ordinary bomb but a nuke that they launched. He watches it blow up through the telescope. Congratulations, Javier, you are now eligible for a seeing eye dog because you just killed your corneas. Oh, and everyone is now dying of radiation poisoning.

However, hooray! The nuke seems to have taken out the alien mothership because it crashes to the ground and everyone cheers. Even I'm impressed and am feeling quite glad the movie is nearly over. And then the mothership starts to repair itself. The only thing I can think is: everyone is so screwed. Because now the aliens are invincible. And there's about 30 minutes left to this movie. By this point I was really hoping that the writer's weren't going to pull some crap about earth germs killing the aliens (a la War of the Worlds), or that throwing some water on them would send them limping back to their home (as in Signs, the last good M. Night Shymalan movie to be made, but that's for another blog post).

Anyway, there's some more complaining and eventually Milo and Javier duke it out, Milo goes a bit alien on the guy and convinces Jeanne to leave. Oh, and they finally lost water. Shocking.

I guess that finally knocked some sense into Milo because he starts to go around the apartment and gather things up to leave. Instead of looking for bottles of water he grabs soda and Red Bull. Because caffeine (a diuretic, meaning it makes you dehydrate faster) is such a good idea for survival. Milo and Jeanne then make a run for the roof after seeing some army guys land there. Meanwhile, when the helicopter first lands, no one makes a run for it. They wait until AFTER the damn things leaves to go talk to the army dudes. Wouldn't it make better sense to see the helicopter and run for it, rather than waiting until it's GONE to hitch a ride?

Milo and Jeanne ditch Javier and the bitchy blond in the apartment and run to the roof where they promptly run into an alien. It tries to eat Milo's brain and he starts to do his weird alien thing and I half expected lasers to start shooting out of his eyes or something. But no. Instead Jeanne to the rescue with an ax. She promptly removes the thing's brain and they celebrate... long enough for it to get back up and attack her. Apparently aliens don't need their brains. Then, does Milo pick up the ax? No, instead he throws a cement brick at it and then beats it to death with his fists. The cement brick did nothing to damage this alien, and apparently neither did an ax to the brain but it magically dies after a few blows from Milo. Wow. I am now praying for the credits to roll soon. Netflix tells me there's about 20 minutes left and I'm wondering what miracle is going to save the day this time. The only thing I could think of was that Jeanne and Milo, being obviously part alien by this point, would pull a Wikus Van De Merwe (District 9), completely transform into aliens and save earth. Or something.

You would think that after nearly being eaten by an alien, they would reconsider the whole roof idea, especially once the army guys all get killed the the helicopter (that returned for no reason) gets knocked out of the sky. But they don't. They run to the helipad in time for a fighter jet to nearly shoot them and then crash into the alien trying to eat them, miraculously missing them by inches, even though the engines very clearly pointed at them at one point. Milo and Jeanne should have been toasted. But they aren't. Milo then bravely tries to get Jeanne to leave him behind because of an injured leg and she refuses. The mothership flies over their building and they are sucked into the teleportation light. Where they promptly start making out. Seriously. I kid you not, there they are, hovering hundreds of feet above the ground and they start making out. It was almost as bad as at the end of Speed 2 when the Keanu Reaves character (who is not Keanu Reaves) makes out with Sandra Bullock while under the water rather than hauling her back to the surface to safely make out there.

So Milo and Jeanne disappear into the alien ship and I'm left wondering how this is supposed to wrap up in the remaining 10 minutes. They have the obligatory shot of New York City with pillars of smoke everywhere, and then even a shot of London. Guess the Doctor didn't get the memo he was supposed to show up and chase the aliens off. Although, with how this movie's been going I half expected Matt Smith to just appear, go "BOO" and for the aliens to run off. Fortunately, they don't. Though, that might have been an improvement to how the last few minutes go.

After the shots of devastation suddenly we're inside the alien ship, just in time for Jeanne to wake up, looking like she's surrounded by Devil's Snare covered head to toe in black alien goo stuff. Except for her face. Her face is miraculously clean and her makeup perfect. She slides around in the muck just in time to see Milo get his head cut off by an alien. Whoops.

They go to do the same to Jeanne but realize she's pregnant so she gets swallowed up some weird alien tube thing. Then some more people get their heads cut off and you realize the aliens are taking the brains and transplanting them into alien bodies. That would have been a cool idea except for the fact that doing so would probably make a person instantly insane. Wouldn't you, waking up and realizing you're suddenly inside an alien body? But, for the sake of argument let's assume they remember nothing. Maybe the process wipes their memories. Cool, but confusing since I'm not sure why the aliens spent so much time actually killing people if they needed their brains to give to other aliens. Very confusing alien motivation.

Anyway, Jeanne is about to have her baby removed from her when suddenly an alien hears her screams, looks up and races to the rescue. Presumably it's Milo, having retained enough human stuff to not only remember his girlfriend but also his baby, recognize her screams from all the other screams in the area. He also manages to figure out how to get his new alien body moving so he can go to the rescue. Which he does and then puts a weird clawed alien hand on Jeanne's belly before stroking her face. At this point you'd think Jeanne would be pretty freaked out, right? Nope, she instantly makes the connection, and goes "Jarrod?". The alien nods and credits, thankfully, roll.

The fact that they chose that moment to run credits tells me that someone read over the script and told the writers what a trainwreck of a movie they had and if they wanted to salvage their careers they should stop writing then and there. Or else they ran out of money and decided, "hey, this is a shit story anyway, let's let the audience make up their own ending because we know it'll be 100 times better than the crap we've come up with!"

During the credits there are shots that show Milo the alien fighting off some other aliens and then scooping up Jeanne and running. How they plan to leave the mothership I have no damn idea. I also have no idea why I wasted an hour and a half of my life on this movie but I guess there are some questions that will never be answered. I can only plead temporary insanity and hope that after reading this you don't make my same mistake. There are much better alien movies out there to waste your life on. Consider my decision a cautionary tale.

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