10 December 2010

Why Skyline Sucked, and Why It Really Doesn't Matter

Java and I watched the movie Skyline last night. Oh boy.  [Hey, this is Java here, I'll be adding some stuff in the square brackets.]

A little backstory is probably in order. This movie was advertised on TV and looked like a remake of Independance Day: ID4 (1996?) with more modern effects, a bit more of the monsters eating people, that kind of thing. To put it plainly, the preview looked awesome, like a preview for one of those great blockbuster special effects movies that come out every year, usually at the start of the northern summer.

Now that preview didn't mention the case, director, writers, any of that kind of stuff. Just showed some images (which looked great) and the tagline "Don't look up." As it turned out, there was a good reason for this.  [Why not look up?  You're going to get eaten anyway.]

This movies big star is an up and coming actor named Eric Balfour, who has mostly done supporting roles in TV including Buffy and Six Feet Under, and was in What Women Want with Mel 'I was in Mad Max, but now I'm a fat wanker' Gibson. Along with Donald 'Turk from Scrubs' Faison, Brittany Daniel (who played a MAJOR character in Sweet Valley High) and Scottie Thompson (who has been on CSI:NY, CSI:Miami, NCIS, Bones AND Law and Order!), the cast is what you might describe as inexperienced, but quite good looking. See how nice I am being about it?  [Really?  All those roles?  They sound experienced enough.]

And I must say, the actors have done a good job. The faults with the story are not anything the actors could have done anything about. They play their roles very well, and with better material to work with, this could have been a real springboard for all of them. (Well, except for Brittany Daniel, who's major abilities seem to be 1: holding up a strapless top with no hands and 2: being an EXTREMELY female girl with big boobs*.)

*by which I mean that this girl is a plastic surgery disaster waiting to happen, with hair that i'm sure would crumble if touched, although she looks very very 'beautiful' in the hollywood sense of the word.  [I'm pretty sure that all actors are plastic surgery disasters waiting to happen.]

OK, I'll stop here to warn you that if you don't already know how this movie ends, you don't want to read on any further. I will spoil the 'suprise' ending for you. Therefore, click ye not on the link b'low, lest ye find thyself in the midst of furious spoilage, alas....  [The story isn't much anyway.  Click the link.]

You clicked? Good for you.  [Yeah, what Nate said.]

In pre-emptive defence of the writers of this film, they have tried to do something new with some very old material. For a story that essential involves two old friends who have just met up for the first time in years, their partners, and the sex doll/secretary of one of the guys watching an alien invasion from a 22nd story apartment, an awful lot happened, and some of it was unexpected.  [Ya know, the whole 'the american military is the best ever yay' cliche.]

However, when the aliens appear defeated at the 1hr10min mark, they aren't. It's fairly obvious. And no, you can't escape the building. This film is full of cliches, despite the best efforts of the writers to actually tell a new story here. The only part they managed to really do something new with, unfortunately, was the ending. Which was terrible.  [The special effects were cool though.]

Essentially, the plot is that aliens are harvesting humans for their brains. The brains are reprogrammed and rewired so that they glow blue and now hold alien minds. The hacked brains are then implanted into biomechanical bodies in various shapes, from flying squid fighters to gigantic stompy beast things. So that's what they want us for, apparently. It's how they reproduce. (Not an original idea, I'm pretty sure, as I recall reading something by Alfred Bester many years ago about aliens farming and harvesting humans so that they could load the uploaded minds of their dead or dying.)  [I read a book where aliens were doing that.  Different one though.]

And the ending goes like this. Despite our best efforts, the aliens have won. All around the world, humans have been entirely collected by aliens. Our civilisation is deserted and is now a smoking ruin. We have lost everything, including our lives. Now cut to the inside of the alien mothership in LA, where we see our pregnant female lead (Scottie Thompson) lying amongst a few dozen unconsious humans as the aliens harvest the brains out of them. As the aliens grab her, they suddenly pause and notice that she is preggers. So they don't harvest her brain, and stick her off to the side for further investigation.  [Yeah, she survives.  What did you THINK would happen?]

As they grab her, she notices that her man (Eric Balfour) has been selected for harvesting. She can do nothing as they scoop out his brain, fling his body into a slush pit/reactor core (it was glowy and liquidy...) and implant his now glowy blue brain into a stompy-monster body via what looked like a bitey vagina made from shiney black beetle shells and hot tar. She screams for him, but he is gone. Suddenly, the new alien body thing reacts funny, and seems to RECOGNISE HER!! He rushes to her to fight off the various other alien thingies that are touching her. He stands over her body to protect his love and his unborn child, despite being in a brand new giant alien stompymonster body!! It looks like he is going to fight them off, but now he's got their advantages. Can he bring down the aliens from within?? The aliens gather and surround this funny acting alien/human thing......  [And I wanted to see what would happen. Then it ended.]

And then the credits rolled. Java and I looked at each other and he said 'What The?' and I finished with 'Fuck'  [Basicly, yeah.]

Basically, the story was completely stupid and shit. But at least they tried. Better to have tried to make real SF movies than to pump out more Hollywood shit, so I will give them credit for that.  [So will I, the special effects were cool.]

Additionally, this movie looks fantastic. The effects are really nice, the aliens look great. I particularly liked the thing with kind of Skill Tester Crane hands and 100 eyes.  [That thing had 200 eyes, not 100.]  No way dude, I counted them, there were only 100....haha

So there you have it. Shit story, great to look at, we'll probably watch it many more times, but won't bother trying to hear the dialogue. If they had better actors, it might have been a better movie, but they were never going to get better actors with that script. When the script is only 4 pages, and most of the lines are 'bleaaaahah' or 'waaaaahh!!!' with directions like (runs away) or (backing up in terror), you just don't get Brad Pitt.

Teh Endz.