Skyline is clear of good acting, unpredictable story

Skyline – 2010

Directed by The Brothers Strause

Starring Eric Balfour, Scottie Thompson, Donald Faison, Brittany Daniel, Crystal Reed, David Zayas

Written by Joshua Cordes, Liam O’Donnell

One of the things that bugs me most about Stephen Speilberg is that he tends to proselytize, and while doing it, commits some of the most pedestrian directorial moves.  Foremost among these is the trick he employed in Schindler’s List, the lay up of his career.  Filmed in black and white, for its dramatic effect, there was a lone exception.  The little girl in the red coat.  This moment was enough to throw me entirely out of the film.  Immediately I am brought to the mind of how someone was attempting to manipulate material that, in its truest sense, need not be manipulated.  Remarkably, he was not only given a free pass on that, but the movie was enough to get him an Oscar for best director.

When I saw a similar tactic employed in Skyline, it just seemed much more appropriate.  The Brothers Strause’ form of hackery is much more consistent with the type of director that would try something so devoid of artistry.  If it were not for the putrid Man On Fire, the last film of  Greg and Colin Strause belched into the celluloid universe, AVP: Requiem would have been the decade’s worst.  That they have made improvements here only means that no pregnant women were torn apart before giving birth.  Although it wasn’t for lack of trying.

The best thing that can be said about Skyline is that the special effects look pretty good, for the price.  The alien ships look like variations of the Aliens featured in …Requiem, and the big car stompers look like something Ronny Cox was developing in Robocop.  The floating person to person grabbers look like a female body part which shall not be mentioned.  And all the monstrous variations have those delightful blue lights attached to them.

What is not so thrilling are the actors.  I was tired of Eric Balfour before he got out of the airplane.  I never bought that he was an artist.  He looks like the kind of kid that kicked everyone’s butt in Junior High Football because he was held back a few years.  I kept expecting him to fight Apollo Creed, rather than walk around a rooftop gingerly holding a camera.  His counterpart, Scottie Thompson, fares only mildly better, for no other reason than she is not Balfour.  Nothing much remarkable about her ability to be swayed in her opinions from moment to moment, to leave a room dramatically because of smoke.

Donald Faison presents some Hollywood type who has “made it” and therefore has one blonde (Daniel) in bed and another one (Reed) on the side.  This doesn’t really go anywhere, but at least it gets there awkwardly.  Then there is the concierge (Zayas) who doesn’t know much, but he is surly and assured waiting it out will work, even when the automatic drapes roll up.

In the midst of all this awesomeness, they meet more victims who break Mark Twain’s beloved twigs that need braking to move the story along.  The good guys with jets get slaughtered, and then, strangely, some slower, plodding helicopters happen by, just screaming to be destroyed.  That they are.

The only parts of the story that are not predictable are the ones that are dropped, sans explanation.  This movie seems to have been made specifically for MST3K.  When they cover it, I will be first in line.

(** out of *****)

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