You might want to take the 405 into work today …

Theatrical Release Date: 11/12/2010
Directors: Colin & Greg Strause
Cast: Eric Balfour, Scottie Thompson, David Zayas, Donald Faison, Brittany Daniel, Crystal Reed, Neil Hopkins


After the commercial break: What you need to know to survive the next 30 seconds.

Where my $11.50 at? Although the grammar of that question is questionable itself, it is both a play on the title of a song on the “Skyline” soundtrack and a honest question I’m hoping the producers of the film can one day answer.

You see, “Skyline” wasn’t screened for critics. The studio either didn’t want reviews like this one (the kind that come from any poor soul who sat through the whole thing) or figured the intended demographic wouldn’t care what those of my ilk would say anyway.

Oddly enough, I was actually excited for this film and rooting for its success. I am a huge fan of many of the actors – from Donald Faison, to Eric Balfour, to Brittany Daniel and, of course, to David Zayas. I was so confident in their inclusion I figured that if nothing else, this visual effects train wreck would provide ample laughs, even if they were at the film rather than with it.

And so, with a few friends in tow, I plunked down some of my own moolah and caught the opening midnight show. The theater was decently filled with others hoping they hadn’t wasted the next day’s lunch money in vain. After some horrendous trailers (wherein I have only a modicum of hope for just one of the six films previewed), we got down to business.

“Skyline” centers itself on a small group of people holed up in a Los Angeles high rise penthouse apartment, trying to keep a low profile while figuring out an escape plan because aliens have come to Earth and are sucking humans up into the sky akin to what a Dyson vacuum would do to a dirty carpet. The aliens apparently have been watching ESPN 8 (the Ocho) because they use bright lights to lure people out into the open like some kind of shrewd river fisherman. The film then slowly allows our central characters to try different tactics, most of which fail spectacularly miserably.

On the plus side, some of the creature designs are interesting and I appreciate that this technologically advanced race doesn’t succumb to conventional tactics or suddenly develop the sniffles and keel over. Some hilarity ensues as Balfour does battle with one of the aliens using an axe and ultimately his fists. By this time, we’ve figured out why we’re a resource worth all this trouble to collect though I suppose I’ll be nice and not fully spoil what the actual goal of these unfriendly E.T.’s is.

However, the “Brothers Strause” (as directors Colin & Greg Strause call themselves in the titles) might not only want legal defense against the folks producing next year’s “Battle Los Angeles” concerning intellectual property rights (see HitFix’s article here) but I wouldn’t scoff at the Wachowski brothers, or even Michael Bay, for calling shenanigans on a few of the plot lines, production design and camera setups.

Worse still is that for all of their efforts on visual effects, which works for the most part, the basic filming process seemed to be little more than to give someone a digital video camera, poorly light everything and remember not to frame everyone so well. It was as if they wanted the raw nature of “Cloverfield” but had only worked on TV sitcoms prior to this. Actually, many of the scenes were more like something you’d see on a Saturday afternoon SyFy show than in a big budget Hollywood affair.

Simply put, “Skyline” proposes that the aliens’ bright lights attract people to their doom and it’s fitting that the film’s projection onto a movie screen does the same thing to a bamboozled audience. While I laughed at some of the absolutely awful elements and reveled in some of the absolutely ridiculous elements, afterwards I simply wanted some Absolut. A 1 out of 5, you’re better off using the ticket money to roll your own ‘cigarettes’, because you’d have to be smoking something to honestly enjoy this film in any serious manner. Someone let me know when the boys at work their magic on this one; at least then I could expect to get my money’s worth.

1 out of 5