Wednesday, April 20, 2011


In Skyline (2010; dirs.. Colin and Greg Strause) six young people in their 20s witness an attack on Los Angeles by aliens who land with huge ships that send out drones to capture humans. They take the humans to a mother ship where their brains are removed and reinserted in android devices (this is made explicit in the last few minutes of the film). Among the many fatal flaws of this effort are the six main characters—they are for the most part narcissistically dimwitted. They watch the invasion from an apartment building as the huge dinosaur-like organic robots tromp around the town, attacking anything that moves, especially humans. Their idea of how to escape is to drive through the city to the bay and sail away on the yacht of one of the characters. This is a decidedly unsuccessful plan.

Through much of this film the main characters do their best to escape the aliens, running, screaming, scampering up and down stairs. There are explosions large and small, burning helicopters, military jets knocked from the sky, smoke, fire, noise. Some of the jets are clearly models, and you strain to see the wires that hold them aloft. One by one these characters are killed or captured, stomped on, consumed, incinerated, harvested.

One could imagine such a film as a comic campy send-up of War of the Worlds or Independence Day, and indeed there are echoes of both those films here. Not echoes in the sense of homage paid to groundbreaking work, but instead the kind of echoes that occur when you borrow, knowingly or not, the plot devices of other films. This is no Invasion from Mars. This film is deadly serious, deadly dull.

There is no excitement in Skyline, no tension, no engagement with the characters, no comedy, no satire, no creative imagination, no nothing. You feel nothing when one or the characters is sucked up by an alien machine. The film’s most disturbing aspect comes in the last scene: it sets up a sequel.

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