'Skyline' hilarious in all the wrong ways



Article Published: Nov. 18, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
'Skyline' hilarious in all the wrong ways

Donald Faison and Eric Balfour star in 'Skyline.'



The opening scene of "Skyline" shows a woman vomiting, perfectly setting the tone for the next 90 minutes.

An awful mish-mash of sci-fi cliches from cinema past, this alien invasion flick is a B-movie through and through - laughable dialogue, an incomprehensible story and Bela Lugosi fighting a rubber octopus.

Well, all except for the last part, though "Skyline's" interpretation comes incredibly close. It's trash in a pretty garbage bag, directed by a couple of special effects wizards, Greg and Colin Strause ("Alien vs. Predator - Requiem"), whose adequate visuals only serve to polarize the grossly inadequate storyline, or whatever it is.

The been-there-done-that alien invasion scenes, mirroring others from "Independence Day" and "War of the Worlds" with a dash of "District 9," actually seem refreshing, but only after being subjected to the banal comings, goings and then some more comings of our miserable lot of protagonists.

New Yorkers Jarrod (Eric Balfour, "The Spirit") and pregnant girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson, TV's "Trauma") are visiting well-to-do friend Terry (Donald Faison, TV's "Scrubs") in L.A.

After a night of extreme partying, the hungover revelers are wakened in the wee hours by an eerie blue light. One is promptly hypnotized by said light and sucked into oblivion. Jarrod almost shares a similar fate, but is rescued at the last minute; unfortunate for us, since he's our protagonist.

Armed with a camera and the charisma of a ceiling tile, Jarrod joins armed and mildly dangerous Terry on the roof, to find out just what's happening. Turns out alien spaceships are sucking humans into their mechanical gullets, with smaller, tentacle-laden drones catching stragglers from the city's various buildings.

The aliens, it seems, are harvesting humans for their brains, using them for some nefarious scheme that undoubtedly involves harvesting humans for their brains. In that respect, our heroes are lucky.

Despite Los Angeles's vast sprawl, these extra-terrestrials seem unreasonably concerned with Terry's condo, and our survivors must protect themselves using only their wits (of which they have very, very few) and the relative cover of Terry's computer-controlled Venetian blinds.

And so continues "Skyline," as our heroes try to escape, retreat, and then try to escape again, only to retreat again, for the duration of the film, all set in same condominium building. This would be perfectly fine for a set piece in establishing claustrophobia and character, but due to poor acting and even lesser writing, the mood in "Skyline" takes on that of an unintentionally hilarious B-movie, ripe for riffing.

If the Strause brothers acknowledged they were making a B-movie, "Skyline" could have worked on that level, at the very least. But the film's no-nonsense approach dooms it from the get-go, resulting in absolute nonsense.

The filmmakers devote much more to special effects, and it shows. Between the alien attack scenes, we're subjected to the Strauses' own form of hypnotizing blue light - a narrative that's so bad it's good.

Written by even more special effects artists - Joshua Cordes and Liam O'Donnell (both of "Iron Man 2") - the obligatory "drama" set between the action scenes is simply a hoot, the making of an unstoppable laugh attack, right along with Jarrod's wealth of facial expressions.

Throw in a somewhat suggestive alien creature design, particularly the manner in which they consume our masculine heroes, and you've got a laugh-out-loud, misogynistic joy ride.

"Skyline," rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some language, and brief sexual content, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.

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