Monday, 15 November 2010

Cinema Review: Skyline

The Strause Brothers -- the pair that simultaneously assisted Paul Anderson in almost destroying the Alien/Predator franchises with their renditions of Alien Vs. Predator -- attempt box office success with one of this years alien invasion flicks, depicting one unimaginably cack-handed group of predictably good looking party-goers against a force of, on one hand, extreme beauty and, on the other, a race of extremely unforgiving extra terrestrials.

Graffiti artist Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson) head to L.A. for a weekend of drunken fun with successful special effects artist Terry (Scrubs' Donald Faison) and his girl Candice (Brittany Daniel). The morning after, the pack are rudely awoken by bright beams of light, leaving some in an uncontrollably unresponsive state.

As a gargantuan spaceship descends from the clouds Independence Day-style, minions are released to collect those strays that they've failed to already vacuum up into it's gaping, ominous but profoundly sinister floating hell-hole. Trapped inside their multistory apartment block, the anxious group must decide whether to flee or patiently wait for help.

The set-up is as unoriginal as they come, introducing two couples we're, from what i gather from every other sci-fi flick, meant to level with from the get go. Jarrod and Elaine, the down-to-earth, partly-likable duo are thrown into personal turmoil once they uncover something life changing, whereas big-headed best friend Terry and his distinctly unpleasant and hilariously clich├ęd bimbo girlfriend are the genuine opposite, simply placing a ticking time bomb above their dimwitted craniums with how long they have left before being unwillingly swooped up by the evil lurking outside - the evil which, once released from the Mothership, can sprout tentacles that is an undoubtable nod to War of the Worlds. Once the action truly starts, clear stupidity gets the best of them and we're forced, also unwillingly, to watch them attempt to cling on to their blatantly unworthy and dreadfully uninteresting lives.

Character wise, there's truly nothing original about Skyline. The Strause brothers set the film up rather fantastically with the extravagant special effects -- made all the more awe-inspiring due to the small budget -- that you would normally see in a big budget, most probably 3D, post-apocalyptic epic, but newcomer writing duo Joshua Cordes and Liam O'Donnell clearly worship the likes of Roland Emmerich and H.G. Wells all too much.

Still, with the amount of face-palming occurring in the audience at the sheer audacity of the script, it's simply gob-smacking at how entertaining the final product actually is. With the top notch special effects illuminating the screen and the modernized E.T.s trying their hardest at wiping out humanity, it's the true definition of a mindless, Saturday night whiz-pop-bang-fest that Michael Bay is usually at the helm of.

Aside from the atrocious last act where the writing truly turns completely bonkers, Skyline is incontrovertibly sloppy in places, but, if expectations are low enough, provides enough thrills to hold you over for Gareth Edwards' low-budget invasion love story Monsters and Sony's competition World Invasion: Battle L.A.


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