November 18, 2010

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Skyline (PG-13)
Aliens seek and destroy all humans in an attempt to save the Earth from crummy actors and bad writing in Skyline, a dumbtastic sci-fi movie.

Mysterious blue light shoots down from the sky and begins to suck humans up into big, clunky spaceships. A group of people we very marginally care about, thanks to an extended flashback, watch the destruction from a penthouse apartment (with a truly fabulous view) in Los Angeles. Eventually, we find ourselves watching a more limited number of people attempt to survive: Terry (Donald Faison), a wealthy something-to-do-with-movies-or-maybe-music guy; Candice (Brittany Daniel), his bitchy wife or possibly just live-in girlfriend; Jarrod (Eric Balfour), Terry’s friend from New York; Elaine (Scottie Thompson), Jarrod’s pregnant girlfriend or possibly wife. (The characters’ basic identifying information and relationships to each other are so fundamentally unimportant to the story that either I didn’t catch it when they said it or most of this information was never specified.) They fight about whether to stay in the apartment or try to make it to the marina, where Terry has a boat. They watch the alien ships send out scouts to look for more people. They watch the military attempt to fight back. Sometimes they go outside and are imperiled. Sometimes, the action dies down so much you’re left guessing which celebrity type the movie-makers were looking for with each character. Thompson seems like a very poor man’s Uma Thurman. Faison has minimal fame from his Scrubs days — did they say “get me the second lead from Scrubs” or did they say “get me a Martin Lawrence type”?

Skyline is the Gamera movies without the sense of fun, Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds without the tension or the quality filmmaking, Independence Day without the awesomeness or Will Smith. It is a dollar-store bin of further-discounted knock-offs of previous alien-invasion movie clichés put together in the least exciting way possible. It fails on nearly every level — it doesn’t do anything new with the story, doesn’t have fun with its subject, doesn’t give us the willies and actually manages to make people being eaten by bad CGI monsters seem boring. The performances — or really, “performances” — are flat like warm soda left sitting around. The dialogue and directing are absolutely nothing special.

Skyline was never going to be the next Independence Day or even the next Mars Attacks! but it doesn’t even try to make something entertaining out of the very limited materials it has. F

Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some language and brief sexual content. Directed by Colin Strause and Greg Strause and written by Joshua Cordes and Liam O’Donnell, Skyline is an hour and 40 minutes long and distributed in wide release by Universal Pictures.

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