Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with another review from Sheepf*cker, who now really seems to lament his handle. Too bad! You're stuck with it! He's gotten a look at the upcoming SKYLINE, the flick that's trying to be a the big sleeper sci-fi hit of the fall. Up until right this very moment I expected good things from it. Hell, I'm an optimistic guy, so I still hope I disagree with Sheepf*cker here, but boy is this a scathing review. Give it a look if you're curious. I don't see the flick until tomorrow. Here's the man who loooooves him some lamb chops! Perhaps too much. Enjoy!
Harry, Sheepf*cker again, with some terrible news. Please remind me to come up with a different handle if this becomes any sort of tradition. Skyline I wanted this film to be good. I wanted it to be a triumph of a small group of talented people that went around the system and made a great little sleeper that knocked my socks off. Instead I saw a film that left me oddly philosophical, pondering the question of who to blame for everything that goes wrong. And in Skyline, most of it goes wrong. The good (an unfortunately short list): 1. Fanboy homages to ID4 and The Matrix in the alien creature design. Some will cry “ripoff,” but it's so obvious it had to be purposeful rather than lack of originality. 2. The F/X. There were gratefully no “that was soooo green screen” moments. 3. The first scene “hook”. The bad: Everything else – acting, plot, acting, plot, the “attack of the blue LED lights,” dialogue as written, dialogue delivery (ya, I already mentioned the catch-all “acting” but it bears separation into it's own category, it's that bad). Synopsis Skyline focuses on a small group of friends and acquaintances in L.A. who all happen to be staying in the same apartment for the weekend when evil aliens invade Earth. The story focuses on Jarred and his girlfriend Elaine. Except for a very small number of establishing shots we never really leave the point of view of these two charters, even when it makes complete sense to do so. When the aliens arrive Jarrod and the others decide to make an exit for a nearby marina where his buddy has a yacht. Jarrod's rationale is that the aliens aren't out to sea. For the sake of plot please do not question how Jarrod knows there are no aliens out at sea, nor should you re-examine it when you see aliens have destroyed a U.S. Navy fleet, just accept that he knows this and move on. Their first attempt to escape their apartment building fails, and people die. Nobody that you care about, but they still die. Then the characters bicker about whether to stay hiding in their apartment or try to escape again for the marina. Ultimately the group splits, with Jarrod and his girl making a 2nd escape attempt while the others stay behind. Then the film ends. That, folks, is the whole film in 3 paragraphs. It isn't ID4, nor is it trying to be. Skyline opens as it should. Forget the norm of introducing the film's characters one by one. Up-front credits are minimal, a la Pearl Harbor. Like in Pearl the effect is to stimulate something in our unconscious mind that says: “Pay Attention. This is Important. This is Going to be Cool.” Skyline opens with the big blue comets falling into L.A. at 4 AM, casting their eerie blue glow and waking the population. Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and Elaine (Scottie Thompson) awake in an apartment to the strange blue lights outside their shuttered windows. Jarrod hears a shout from the next room and opens the blinds to see what's out there. Immediately his eyes turn cataracts-from-hell white and his veins turn black. He heads toward the light... CUT TO: 15 hours earlier, and the fail begins. The first act introduces us to the most uninteresting characters fathomable. Terry (Donald Faison), a wealthy Hollywood friend of Jarrod's. Terry's wife Denise (Crystal Reed). That's all you'll ever know about her – she's Terry's wife. Candice (Brittany Daniel), who appears to be some sort of photographer in Terry's employ and serves no purpose in the film. The above character sketches, empty as they are, are nearly as complete as the film itself will deliver. Writers Joshua Cordes and Liam O'Donnel add a few character traits and humanizing flaws here and there, none of which serve any point. Terry's cheating on his wife with Candace. Story impact: zero. Wife Denise finds out. Story impact: zero. Terry offers Jarrod a job out in Hollywood at his F/X house. Story impact: zero. The first act is crucial for many reasons - foremost is in those first 15 minutes the audience is inherently rooting for the film. Few show up wanting to hate the movie so you have a lot of good will up front. Skyline squanders these golden moments on character beats that don't matter and introducing sub-plots that go nowhere. By the time the film hits Act II I was sitting in my nice comfy chair very consciously not giving a damn about any of these people. For me this is where the blame-game starts in my head. Who's to blame for the profoundly uninteresting story thus far? Who's fault is it that I don't care about these people? Is it the writers? Is their dialogue so shoddy Edward Norton would have failed? Is it the actors themselves who fail to portray their characters in an even slightly interesting or believable manner? Is it the directors who called “Wrap” before they'd captured a halfway decent performance? The list of suspects is long and the germ of a terrible thought begins to form in my mind: Was Jessica Alba right? Invasion Day I Act II takes us back to where we began, the blue comets touching down in L.A. We see the same scene as before but from a slightly different perspective. An incidental character is sucked into the blue light. In a few minutes, I find myself wishing I'd gone with him. Act II can best be described as the worst scary moments and most implausible reactions ever. I'm trying to keep this as spoiler-free as I can but some illustrations are in order. Dawn breaks and the characters witness the giant spaceship vacuum cleaners we've seen in the trailers, sucking up the population of L.A. with great efficiency. The camera turns to incidental Candice uttering the phrase, “Oh my God, all those people.” It isn't what she says that's so terrible, it's how she says it. Like she'd just seen a rowdy Gay Pride parade and disapproved of the antics ever-so-slightly. Like she'd just seen fanboys mobbing Kenny Baker for his autograph and didn't care much for the crowd of geeks. This is the quality of line delivery you quickly come to expect in Skyline. Utterly, completely, Queen Amidala begging the slug-thing Gungan chief's help in a deadpan emotionless drone kind of bad. If the delivery is lacking the other half of the acting is even worse. After several of the characters witness their friend killed, a husband cruelly taken away, a extra get his brains sucked out before their very eyes, after they narrowly escape the same fate, after they finally make it to a place of relative safety, their reaction is: act slightly out of breath. No shakes. No post-traumatic stress. No crying. Well okay there was one scene of crying, but very brief and quickly overtaken by acting slightly out of breath. Bloody unbelievable. It's all terrible. Great movies, like great poetry and great music, makes you feel something. Anger. Fear. Joy. Anything at all. Skyline's cast is set up against great danger and terrible odds... yet never really look afraid. Or sad. Or anything at all (except out of breath. Slightly.) At one point Terry and Jarrod want to go up on the building's roof, to see what's what. They creep into a hallway. Scary music. Tension builds. There's a sound. What's that? OMG it's Walter, an elderly neighbor. No, really, I'm not making it up. The scare reveal was an old man and his dog. This “scary” setup and reveal happens twice since the first time wasn't lame enough. Meanwhile the gals back in Terry's apartment get the bright idea to check the news. Good idea actually, a real person in this kind of situation would probably do that. Unfortunately in Skyline they get this bright idea at dawn, an hour or two after the blue lights began outside their windows. Seriously? These characters don't do what any halfway normal person would. They don't react like they should. Their actions are sometimes inexplicable. They argue about nothing, even in the context of being in a life-n-death stressful situation. It all feels like someone's bad first draft. Invasion Day II Really, really trying not to reveal the plot for the sake of those who actually want to see this movie, but I have to say this: If a nuclear bomb goes off in L.A., and you're IN L.A., and you're watching the bomb go off through your apartment window, do 'ya think the windows might shatter? In Skyline, they don't. Invasion Day III Maybe someone else will reveal the ending but it won't be me. Some of you out there may like this movie and I wouldn't want to ruin it for you if Skyline is your thing. For the rest of you I can only describe the ending of Skyline as the biggest WTF I've seen. Ever. Some of you are in the business and you've written coverage for screenplays. If this is you I ask how many scripts you've read that end with the main character waking up from a dream. All the hell and drama this character went through... never happened. Sometimes that actually works (Inception) but 99.999% of all scripts that try this trick fail utterly. You want to scream at the writer, “Are you bloody nuts? You !@$%@ moron you just invalidated whatever small emotional investment you'd generated in your previous 124 pages you stupid !#@&.” Skyline does not have this ending. Skyline's ending is even worse. And with the end credits I begin the blame-game anew. Who's at fault? Directors: Absolutely. I'm reminded of something writer John August said about Charlie's Angels II. “Full Throttle wasn't screened (audience tested) because it was a bad movie. Full Throttle was a bad movie because it wasn't screened.” There's an awful lot in Skyline that doesn't work and and I wonder how much if any of it could have been mended if they hadn't kept this one so close to the vest. Writers: Absolutely. Put in DeNiro, Pacino, Ed Norton, Meryl Streep, whoever your dream team is and the dialogue in Skyline would still be terrible. Dialogue is only one part of the problem though. The plot doesn't build to anything. There's no scare in your scary setups. Characters do the oddest things for the strangest reasons. Character reactions don't match the event. Actors: Absolutely. Even if the script is dog crap you could still act as though you were in a real situation, show some emotion over your best buddy's death, show some fear of dying yourself. Skyline could have starred The Muppets and been no worse off. Rating: F- not really worth renting for $1 at Redbox