Skyline Netflix Streaming DVD | Blu-ray Directed by The Brothers Strause Starring Eric Balfour, Scottie Thompson, David Zayas, Donald Faison Universal Pictures Originally Released: November 11, 2011
Does anyone happen to have a glass of bourbon for me? Because I am pretty sure I need it after sitting through Skyline. This film is a terrible movie; I think most people would prefer to participate in an emetophilia convention. No, I mean it. It is truly the most insufferable and cringe-inducing movie viewing experiences I have ever endured.
The science fiction movie is a disaster (pardon the pun) from start to finish, that it is ruined even further by acting that will make you facepalm yourself so much it will leave marks. The writing and direction is poorly executed, with insufficient substance or meaning to back itself up, and as a result, the only redeeming aspect of the movie are the special effects and musical score.
At this point in a review, I ordinarily provide a little overview of the plot. But I find myself not wanting to – the characters in this tale have no endearing qualities whatsoever, and quite frankly, most of them were so selfish and greedy that I find myself contemplating that they deserved to have their brains ripped out by an alien race that has a fixation on the color blue.
The writing of the characters is likewise somewhat lacking, focusing in on individuals that either have potential or are “living it up” in fame and fortune. This has worked for many compositions in years gone by, but in Skyline, it is extremely exasperating and cringe-worthy. In fact, this “well off” standard in which some of the characters are based, made me really care less about their predicaments. Fuck the 1%!
I discovered no central anchor to grab onto during the movie, and although Eric Balfour’s character is mostly central to the story, he really doesn’t fulfill a role of protagonist by any stretch of the imagination. On top of that, the subplot of the characters’ lives is so positioned outside the reality of the modern individual; the first half hour is a considerable waste of time that bears no consequence on the plot or the conclusion. It really was just meaningless diarrhea to fill up more time.
The script is also fairly literal, with very little subtext, symbolism, or meaning. There are a couple minor attempts at symbolism in the movie (one involving a painting on the wall that comes to mind) but it’s so poorly implemented that the meaning becomes muddied and inconsequential. Skyline is a surface story, telling the adventure of an alien invasion, which is for all intents and purposes, a retelling (or rip-off) of Independence Day, which in and of itself was a rip-off of War of the Worlds. These directors owe much to the mind of the great H.G. Wells. There’s also touches and tributes to other sci-fi movies here and there (District 9 is one that comes to mind, as well as many from the ’50s and ’60s), but many of these come off as mediocre attempts to copy more than pay homage.
Additionally, the physics issues and logical disproportions that arise are incredibly problematic for the storytelling. Ordinarily these factors can be overlooked with a slight suspension of belief with many movies, but in Skyline, these elements really pull you out of the viewing experience completely. Like Independence Day, this film also has a nuclear strike in it – but the survival result is just so unrealistic and downright ridiculous, it makes Indiana Jones’ fridge scene in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull look like a fucking documentary.
The performances in Skyline are, to put it mildly, found wanting. This is disappointing because the caliber of the cast is relatively full of potential. There are several scenes of interactions between characters exploring emotional desires and concepts that result in either cringes or facepalms among the viewing audience. These character building moments are so badly performed and directed that they should have been excised from the theatrical release. Remove all interactions and dialogue from this film, and you would have an absolute epic. I’m sure that some fan editor has already done this out there on the interwebs somewhere, but there are not many ways to polish a turd.
Even David Zayas, one of my favorite actors, ends up duplicating his Batista character from the Dexter television series. Considering the man has some good diversity with his craft, he obviously had very little to work with. Eric Balfour (who is usually a fairly enjoyable actor to watch) falls flat in this movie, particularly with his interactions with Scottie Thompson. These moments induce cringes, groans, facepalms, or worse.
Despite my piss and vinegar regurgitated above, the one redeeming quality of Skyline stands within the realm of visual effects. The predominantly digital effects are mind-blowing and breathtaking, and depict a glaring realism that is rare in CGI dominated films. The aliens, the brain suckings, the explosions, and the centipede-like “arm tongues” of the hungry extra-terrestrials are all incredible to see on screen. The music in Skyline is also fairly good, with a soundtrack that solidly matches the action and the visual effects.
I have frequently defended films like Skyline as having value from the perspective of: shut up, sit down, switch off your brain, eat popcorn, watch. But the movie is so poorly executed that it’s not just unenjoyable, it is fucking painful. I’m a lover of hard science fiction, but I also have appreciation for cheese: Skyline is neither. If The Brothers Strause had approached this film in a B-film, ‘not-take-it-so-seriously’ style, it might have come off well. But it doesn’t. On top of that, the abduction sequence during the movie’s conclusion, in which our two main characters begin their ascent into the space ship, is completely trashed with this soap opera kiss that resulted in me rushing to get a bucket. I vomited so much that even my intestines came up.
Whilst (and since) viewing Skyline, I have questioned myself as to whether my opinions of the film are tainted by my ridiculously high expectations of standards in science fiction. Perhaps there is an element of predisposition in there somewhere, but even post-viewing, I am still finding myself getting annoyed at some of the cheeseball acting scenes and terrible logic gaps of impossible physics.
Science fiction fans will find some redeeming qualities here and there (not bloody much though), and yes, as mentioned the special effects are stellar and breathtaking. But the problem is without a good plot and good acting, all that remains is a forgettable light show.
As far as substance is concerned, Skyline is a horrendous movie that will scar your soul and will inevitably result in you walking away from it with far less brain cells than if you were drinking yourself into a stupor. It really does suck turd so much.
No, no – I mean it. If you put a copy of Skyline next to a turd, I’m pretty sure that it would suck said turd.