Thursday, 18 November 2010

Death By Lens Flare [Review: Skyline]

"God I hate L.A."

Independence Day was - amazingly - a decent date movie and a real crowd pleaser: something for jingoistic Americans, USAF hardware enthusiasts, conspiracy theorists, chess players, and fans of The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air - I mean, that's just about everyone, right?

Skyline is not a date movie. It's a solid B movie with an A ending, for alien invasion enthusiasts and other sci-fi-gene deficiency sufferers only. While imaginative captions such as "Day One" mark it superficially as an ID4 clone, it's actually closer to War Of The Worlds or Cloverfield in telling the story of everyman heroes caught up in the sidelines of the invasion rather than the leaders, movers and shakers.

The aliens, a menagerie of biomechanical horrors with orifices in curious places, come armed with a variant of the War of the Worlds death ray: a hypnotic blue lens flare that gives you a serious case of acne, then sucks you up into the mothership. The humans fight back, naturally, with automatic Venetian blinds, bad driving, handguns, fireaxes and a Canon EOS 5D.

Avoiding the aliens and their hypnotic weapons, the cast are confined to an apartment block, the rooftops and a few streets, and the style switches between claustrophobic interior and action-heavy exterior scenes. Two thirds though there's a sequence where an alien mothership gets taken down by a drone-launched nuclear missile: what happens next isn't particularly believable or well done, but it does mark a departure from the ID4 storyline - and from this point onwards things get steadily better: the last third of this film more than makes up for earlier weaknesses, and the last few minutes are unexpected and very moving.

I wondered whether the film was a metaphor for parenthood - Elaine (Scottie Thompson) is pregnant, and both she and her boyfriend Jarrod (Eric Balfour) are unprepared for either parenthood or alien invasion, a situation brought home by their visit to eternal playboy Terry (Donald Faisal) and reinforced by constant talk of accepting the reality of the changed situation, stepping up to the mark and taking responsibility for others than yourself. No. It isn't.

Bonus points are awarded for having the heroes actually worry about radiation exposure after the nukes go off - however points must also be deducted for the crude way in which that DSLR (gorgeous as it is) is hammered into the plot as a semi-McGuffin. Sorry, but if it ain't subliminal then it's just advertising.

3 comments: said...

I am looking forward to seeing this movie, nice review =)

Sci-Fi Gene said...

Thanks jayme - as ever, I'd love to know what you think when you've seen it :) said...

Ok, sure =)