Movie #22: Skyline

Skyline really brings home the idea of alien invasion, since it’s set entirely within a high-rise condo — Hey, that’s how I live! Unfortunately, I don’t live in a super-deluxe modern condo in L.A. with sleek modern styling and automated blinds — but then again, those blinds didn’t save these residents from being sucked away (more on that later). This movie is far from groundbreaking (story-wise… economics-wise is something else), unless you consider it innovative to be a movie without story. Basically, Eric Balfour (from many failed TV series, but most recently Haven) and Donald Faison (aka Turk from Scrubs) wake up from a late night party when balls of fiery blue light descend from the sky. After one of their friends gets sucked away into the light, all hell breaks loose as they (and their spouses) try to escape from their building to safer ground. Unfortunately for everyone, the streets and skies are just lousy with aliens. There are flying creatures, giant alien trolls, and hovering brain-sucking octopi. These monsters all employ the same eerily-beautiful blue light that takes over the minds of any humans who view it, drawing them in like moths to deadly flame. Now I’m going to leave the story behind because (as I said) there isn’t one. However, what makes this movie slightly awesome are the visual effects. When I read that this movie was made for merely 10.5 million (with 10 mill just on the effects), I was totally impressed. The visuals are top-notch: everything from the mother ships to the creatures to the stealth bombers coming to take them down all looked beautifully expensive. Without a doubt the effects help elevate this movie above the B- or C-movie level where it normally should fall. The Strause Brothers, who directed this movie, are better known for producing leading-edge visual effects for movies like The Avengers, Avatar, Titanic, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, X-Men 3, 300, Incredible Hulk, and so many other blockbusters you would not believe. It’s tragic that this movie couldn’t have been more substantial. As it is, the acting consists mostly of screaming, cringing, and hypnotized staring. The actual lines in the script could probably be written out on an actor’s arm. However, these aliens (I wonder if the Internet has nicknamed them yet) look cool, repulsive, and kind of scary (think of the “squiddies” from The Matrix but nastier — they are brain-eaters, after all). So I can’t argue with the quality of the effects, which the Strause Brothers are clearly good at, but maybe they’re still cutting their teeth on the directing part (their only previous feature was the abysmal Aliens vs Predators: Requiem). Hopefully next time they’ll have better material to work with. Until now I’ve never really kept track of effects artists, but I think I’m going to watch out for the Strauses from here on. (3.5 out of 5)

22 down, 28 to go!

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