Think quick, what made 2008's "Cloverfield" a different kind of monster movie? Right, the characters were unidimensional unlikable occasionally indestructible idiot assholes! Wait, that's not what you remember? Hold everything, Cloverfield? JJ Abrams? No script... Big monster that thrashes through New York City (Screen time – 87 seconds)? I bet if you remember Cloverfield that you didn't walk out of the cinema, turn to your friend, and utter, "you know, if these alleged characters were even more relentlessly unlikable I bet this would have been a better film." No, if you are anything like me, then you turned to your friend (in this case my 7 year old son Ian) and said, "Well at least we'll never see anything that bad in a cinema again!"
And here we were two years later, Ian and I, buying tickets for Skyline. I bought a small popcorn and medium soda and would have plenty of room left in my belly to eat my words 90 minutes later.
What Skyline really turns out to be once the little-tiny plot resolves about twenty minutes into the film is Night of the Living Dead, set in a 20 story apartment building, but instead of shambling undead the cast are besieged by (cue theramin music) space vagina monsters from OUTER SPACE!!!!! Skyline also borrows whole ideas and elements from other, bigger, better, films and splashes them around the screen like a piece of Independence Day fan fiction with a sprinkle of dai kaiju visual tropes with a pinch of Matrix/Dark City stuff thrown in for measure, be it good or bad. But we'll get into all of the details later. The biggest tie to Cloverfield in Skyline is the handheld camera style of shooting, and while it's almost something we take for granted now, Skyline never goes the full measure of Cloverfield and stuffs the camera into one of the cast's hands. That's probably a good thing, but during the film the handheld scenes, and there are a lot of them, stick out. What Skyline does do in full measure is makes the cast that we'll spend the next 100 minutes with even more unrelatable and insufferable and awful than the cast of useless morons in Cloverfield. In keeping with horror movies that hate black people, Terry, played by comic actor Don Faizon, is the first of our regular cast to die. Don Faizon, in case you don't recognize the name, was in Clueless, and currently stars in Scrubs. He's funny and talented and way better than the material here. He's also the only actor with a real feature-film resume. Thus, his character can't be allowed to live.
I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's talk about Skyline.
Inter title – "Day One"
Blue lights descend from the sky at 4:30AM, someone in a chi-chi apartment ravaged by a party looks out the window. His eyes turn white.
Cut to 15 hours earlier and some CGI planes. Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and Elaine (Scottie Thompson) discuss the relationship that Jarrod has with his bestest friend ever, Terry. They both used to apparently draw graffiti tags together (or something) in New York, and now Terry is a hot shot special effects guy in LA. The pictures in his scrapbook of memories literally looks like old hip-hop type lettering, like graffiti, so I am not sure how they both managed to parlay tags into a career in special effects but Terry apparently has. The plane lands. Jarrod helps a woman with a baby retrieve her luggage, illustrating with the same sort of subtlety as an inter-title that Jarrod will be the hero of the film. Elaine doubles over with stomach pains (meaning she's pregnant) but says it's nothing other than "I'm fine it's nothing".
Yeah, okay, preggo.
Eric Balfour, the star of the film here (strangely) has at least one credit that I recognize. He was in Dinoshark, one of the awful SyFy Channel movies. Now, a lot of the other reviews have descrived Skyline as a big screen SyFy Channel movie, like say, Dinoshark, but they're wrong.
Skyline isn't as good as Dinoshark.
Cut to flyover of a high rise building (every scene change for the first half of the film uses this flyover establishing shot. It's like architecture porn) and down to Terry (Don Faizon) arriving in his Ferrari. Upstairs he greets his assistant Denise (Crystal Reed) and a girlfriend Candice (Brittany Daniel). Candice is already suspicious of Denise being around all the time, and today, so early. Crystal Reed hasn't been in much and she's pretty much on par with the rest of the actors here. Brittany Daniel though has been a around for a while, she's best known now for playing Carmen the Transsexual on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and weirdly manages to sort of look like a transsexual in Skyline. She also looks like at any second she's going to snap and start to scream about how fucking stupid her lines are, and how the fuck did her agent get her into this stupid movie before storming off never to be seen again? Candace also suspects that Terry and Denise are having a little something-something on the side. Terry gives Denise a big HD SLR camera and tells her to take pictures of the party (this may not have happened here in the film but I know it happened somewhere and this seems like the logical place for it.)
Wait a minute. Terry a special effects artist, right? And he's got a convertible Ferarri?? He lives in a penthouse???
Hmm. Okay, Skyline was directed by the uber untalented Strause brothers, don't recognize the name? Not a big surprise because you're probably one of the 330 million cinema goers who didn't go see Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem for the one week it ran in theaters, and since has avoided watching it on DVD or on commercial cable TV. If so, good for you! The Strause brothers are special effects artists, the script is written by Joshua Codes and Liam O'Donnel who are special effects artists too, so it makes sense I guess that they'd wish fulfill their roles as special effects artists into swaggering, penthouse owning, two women fucking, convertible Ferarri-driving, super successful Hollywood superstar.
Terry's sent a limo to pick up his friends at the airport. Elaine and Jarrod return to the apartment building, following a flyover of course, and ride the elevator all the way up to the penthouse. The Strause's actually show this to remind us, who only met Terry one minute ago, that Terry is impressively successful.
Inside the penthouse we are reintroduced to Candace and Denise. He also introduces the intergrated computer functions of the apartment. "The best in electronic living," he says. From a central terminal mounted in the coffee table he can control the blinds, the TV, and the lights. Terry describes his 67 foot "starter yacht" and the plans for his bestest birthday party ever. But first we need to get everyone outside to the pool so we can further broadly define the character relationships. On the way out we catch a glimpse of Candace smoking a cigarette on the terrace. Down at the pool, terry and Jarrod get drinks from the poolside bar? Wait. Do real apartment buildings have these? It's almost like they're at a resort but clearly that isn't the case. I wonder if the booze tab is part of the condo fee. Anyway, Terry explains that he wanted Jarrod out at the birthday party because not only is he the bestest friend ever, but without Jarrod, Terry would in no way in the position he is now with the hot women and the Ferrari and the penthouse. He wants Jarrod to join him in the special effects business, but Jarrod by his own admission doesn't know anything about special effects. He apparently only knows graffiti tags. Doesn't matter, Terry says, the tools are different but the end result is the same thing. Art?
Graffiti tags, that's all we've seen of art. There are a few paintings in Terry penthouse though, but they aren't made obvious other than the gigantic kamikaze pilot that hangs in the back wall.
Gee, I wonder if that'll come to mean anything later –
Terry tells Jarrod to think about moving to LA and they'll talk later. At the pool, Terry hasn't brought Candace a drink and she's bitchy (must be the hormone therapy). She demands that Denise, who is also in a bikini, get a drink for her. Cut to the party from Cloverfield, only this time it's in an ultra modern penthouse with electric blinds. In between screaming and dancing and Elain getting nauseous because "She's fine, really." We're introduced to Ray, Terry's manager, who immediately assumes that Jarrod has taken the offer to move to LA and get into the high paying world of special effects-ing. Elaine is shocked (shocked I tell you!) that he'd even consider doing that without discussing it with her first. Jarrod chases her after telling Ray that he's a tool. Ray then hurries over to the telescope and proves what a tool he is. Peering through the blinds, and connected to the TV via the "electronic integration" he scans the other buildings in the skyscraper complex for people having sex and finds one. Only – gasp! Barf! – it's not a guy getting head from a chick, he's getting it from a guy. And the way Ray carries on you'd think he's never met a gay person in his life. I swear, I can see maybe if this was set in Mudfuck, Arkansas you could get away with the screaming stupid of this scene, but not here. Cut to the hallway where the building manager is bringing up a noise complaint. I thought they were in the penthouse but from the hallway it appears that Terry lives on a regular apartment floor. In fact, when Jarrod and Elaine arrived at the penthouse the elevator doors opened right into Terry's place! But, that's all changed now. Anyway, Candace tells the supervisor Oliver, that she'll try and keep everyone quiet. Oliver is played by David Zayas, and yeah, the name doesn't mean anything here but you've seen him probably 100 times in all kinds of stuff. He's saddled with a whole lot of the worst dialogue of the movie too, so we'll get to spend ample time wishing he'd shut up and get eaten by the space vaginas later. This whole scene seems superfluous but it establishes that half of the building is vacant.
Back at the party, Jarrod goes off looking for Elaine, finds her, and finds that Denise and Terry are having relations in the bathroom. Like that was a surprise. Terry looks genuinely embarrassed to be caught then walks off with a gigantic camera.
Gee, I wonder if that'll come back into the story later?
Jarrod tells Elaine that he only heard about the offer when they arrived and he hadn't made any kind of decision yet because he wanted to talk to her first. Elaine says she can't pick up and move because she's preg – got a life back in New York and definitely not pregnant or anything like that. Cut to the party ending and everyone asleep, it's now back sort of where we started. Turns out it's Jarrod who gets the white-eye treatment here. He also sort of gets this weird veiny breakout from looking out at the pretty blue lights that have dropped down into LA. Weirdly, and I don't know if these are his tats or were added for the film temporarily, but Eric Balfour who plays Jarrod has tattoos on both shoulders, and we never get a good enough look at them to figure out what they are. But when he goes all varicose on us from the blue light it almost looks like his tats are spreading up by his eyes. It's so visually confusing that anytime he's inexplicably in varicose Blue Light Special mode that we keep looking at his shoulders to see if they tattoos are bigger. Elaine wakes up too and tries to pull Jarrod away from the balcony, but isn't strong enough. It's as if the light has some weird hypnotic power over those who look at it. But, like about a million other things to come in Skyline, this trait is inconsistently applied. Characters look out at the lights all the time and don't get possessed until it's really convenient to the plot, like for example, right now. Terry helps drag Jarrod away from the balcony but in the ensuing mayhem, Ray looks at the light and walks out to the balcony and disappears.
Jarrod, now away from the light, slowly reverts to normal.
Terry wants to know where Ray is, and doesn't believe that he just disappeared. Something's moving around outside the apartment. TV works but local news doesn't have any information. The anchors are gone and the cameras are trained on an empty set. All the other channels in the futuristic penthouse apartment are static (as if there are still static channels on cable TV or satellite).
The TV thing is a clue that the writers don't really know how any common technology works. Later we'll be baffled by malfunctioning toilets (but not sinks), and un-openable doors. They do manage to get cell phones right, sort of, and we'll get to that when we get to that.
Candace opens the blinds revealing the blue lights. Terry closes the blinds. This opening and closing of blinds will be our defensive strategy for the next hour. Everyone immediately panics. Turn on the news! Oh wait the anchor desk is empty! Call the cops! The cops don't answer, they don't even have voicemail! Terry grabs a pistol and tells Jarrod to follow him to the roof where they can get a better look at what's going on. I am not sure why going up approximately 10 feet in height gives them any better view than the view from Terry's balcony which overlooks the whole city. But, hey, I didn't write this crap, right? Terry and Jarrod encounter an old man and his dog, Walt (Robin Gammel) is the old man, on the way to the roof. He wants to know what all the screaming and yelling is about. He's also scared and wants to know what Terry is doing with a pistol in the penthouse hallway. Terry tells him to go back to his apartment. Both Jarrod and Terry walk onto the roof, now in broad daylight, and Jarrod lets the door close behind him locking the both on the roof. Smooth move, Jarrod!
Now from the rooftop the pair can see what's going on outside. Just as they arrive in the glowing – er – afternoon sunlight, a horde of massive space ships break through the clouds (that don't appear to be there in non-long shots of the city) and begin Hoovering up people. More than likely the same people who were looking at the pretty blue lights and felt compelled to go to them. This actually looks pretty cool, so props to the special effects team. Actually, almost all of the effects are very very good but that's not surprising since everyone involved with the production is a special effects artists it seems. The problem with the work here isn't that it's shoddy, it's not, the stuff looks neato! It's that it's derivative. The big spaceships look a lot like the big spaceships in Independence Day, the little tentacled squid/vagina monsters from space look like the squid machine monsters from The Matrix, the other blue light little space vaginas look like they came from The Matrix too. They even appear to be made mostly of weird cables and stuff. It's very biomechanical in the H.R. Giger sense. Also, in keeping with the recent trend that all space monsters and aliens must be gray and blinky, the aliens are gray and blinky. I'm not sure why when all the work goes into details an alien monster the designers inevitably think, "you know what'll make this monster pop? Slate gray!" They're wrong. It looks like a half-finished design. This isn't 1954 anymore, color film is REALLY good at showing things with colors as part of their visual design.
Anyway, back on the rooftop, Jarrod and Terry argue over what's the best thing to do. They notice other people on other rooftops too also looking at the big spaceships. We get to see some of the smaller things now, smaller squid aliens that fly. They have a ring of tentacles surrounding a huge human sized vagina mouth. Don't believe me? Fine. Go see Skyline for yourself. One of these monsters snatches the people on the opposite roof, and when it does so, spots Terry and Jarrod looking on with horror.
A note about a lack of a steadycam here. This is the first place where the handheld camera really gets obnoxious, you notice it some in the earlier parts of the film but it's really bad here because we WANT to see what the space vagina monsters look like and the handheld spastic-cam obfuscates that. I realize too that it's meant to impart a sense of immediacy too, but if your actors can't handle immediacy, you need to cast better actors. Jarrod and Terry struggle to open a locked door. Terry shoots it but it doesn't open (not a big surprise there). Also, why does a roof door have a one-way lock on it? Is the condo association worried that Spiderman is planning a heist there? Do LA thieves usually travel by helicopter, or I don't know, jetpack?
The Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space grabs Terry just as someone opens the door. It's Denise or Elaine (I can't remember) and Jarrod tumbles in. Terry shoots the Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space in the vagina and it releases him and flies away. Back in the apartment everyone wants to know what Terry saw. Weird? The whole place is freakin windows. Didn't anyone notice the flying vagina monsters outside? Oh, wait, the blinds are still down. Silly me.
The blinds start to go up on their own, it's late enough in the morning now to trip the automatic timer that raises them. No one wants to look outside either because of the blue lights. Terry says they all need to get to his boat and they'll sail away into safety because the monsters are only over cities at the moment. Fortunately the marina is only a couple of blocks away. Jarrod, while not totally convinced that this is a good plan agrees to give it a try, but they need a car since his Ferrari won't hold five people. Walt has a car, Terry will go and see if he can borrow it.
Meanwhile, Elaine pokes her head through the blinds and begins snapping pictures of the spaceships that are still Hoovering up people. In doing so she stares right into the blue light. She immediately gets the white eyes and varicose veins that Jarrod had but the gang is able to pull her away from the window and she clears up almost immediately.
Down in the old man's apartment, which is open for no good reason, Terry can't find the guy and takes his keys. Walt does show himself and asks what's going on. Terry says he's taking Walt and his dog with them to the yacht so they can escape. Just then one of the Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space crashes appears at the window. Terry and Walt and the dog drop behind the kitchen island and try not to make any noise. The space vagina monster from space crashes through the big windows and begins searching the apartment with this biomechanical tentacles.
Before you can say "oh, that's why he's been carrying around that stupid yappy dog," the stupid yappy dog wriggles out of the Walt's hands and runs off alerting the Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space that there is someone (actually two someones) hiding in the kitchen.
Terry leaves as Walt is snatched and grabbed. Not to worry though, Terry grabbed his keys.
Back at the apartment Terry tries to explain what just happened and can't really do it justice. Candace is clicking through the camera pictures (rather than putting them on the big huge TV for some reason) and finds the pictures of Terry and Denise in-flagrante-delecto. And boy does she get pissed. The gang heads down to the parking garage. Candace tells Terry to drive with his "slut" and she'll drive the others in the old man's Mercedes. They pass two other people from the complex also packing to get the hell out of dodge. As they drive out, Terry in the lead car, speeds through the garage exit and his Ferrari is stomped by an until now unseen walking shambling giant Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space. This one has two arms and two legs and a big vagina for a face. It also has sort of sticky tentacle/tongue things that it shoots from its palm. It's also got a mouth in its palm that's vagina shaped. Got all that? Denise escapes and Terry is grabbed and dragged off where he's eaten by the monster's vagina hand.
The Giant Shambler actually looks kinds of Swamp Thingish, and I like that. I wish we saw more of it. But, like Cloverfield, these scenes are shot with spastic cam. Candace throws the mercedes in reverse and screams back through the garage. One of the smaller Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space is in the garage too now and it follows them back. They crash the car and run for the door, and like all the doors in the condo development, this one is inconveniently locked. The pair who were filling their SUV with stuff catch site of the Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space and join in being jammed against a locked door. The male part of this pair, Colin, gets snatched and eaten. Weird, the space vagina monster from space doesn't seem large enough to consume a whole human as it's mostly tentacles. But it does. Just as it's about to take his wife, a huge SUV smashes into the thing and crushes it.
Here's Oliver again. He's got keys. But, Colin is climbing out of the seemingly dead Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space. But, the Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space isn't dead, instead it rips out Colin's brain and brain stem and eats them. Everyone runs for a different way out as the door is locked from the other side. Oliver leads the cast up from the parking garage through the pool area where the Giant Shambler chases them down and wrecks all of the pool furniture, smashes through the box gardens, and eats Colin's wife and Denise. Oliver smashes through a window and everyone else gets back inside and up to the apartment.
This event, suitably, freaks everyone right the hell out. Up in the penthouse it's time to strategize a new plan. Oliver becomes the natural leader now that Terry's been eaten and the outside is overrun with Giant Shamblers. Oliver wants everyone to just stay put and wait for help.
Help will HAVE to come sometime, right?
Right about now Oliver becomes Harry from Night of the Living Dead, you know, the guy who wants to wait for rescue in the basement? Filling in for Harry's daughter who's been bitten by the zombies is Jarrod and Elaine who've both looked into the blue light. Suspicion doesn't fall on them too much at first though as they are content to stay in the penthouse and wait for rescue. Their sole means of defense against the Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space is the set of automatic blinds. Apparently the Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space are related to the Horrible Bugbladder Beast of Traal and if you can't see them then they can't see you.
Inter title – "Day Two"
Jarrod starts to notice his side hurts, and a spread of varicose veins over where his kidneys are. Elaine sneaks in and sits beside him on the floor. He says he feels fine and asks how she's come back from her trip to the blue light walkies. She says she doesn't remember other than feeling like she had to go to the light. She leaves him and goes back to the others.
Back in the living room area. Candace lights a cigarette and sits at the kitchen island. Elaine stands up and complains that she's smoking and no one should be smoking around her because she's pregnant. As if exposure to a single cigarette is going to hurt her poor 4 week old fetus, even though she spent the previous night drinking and carousing at the party which was more than likely plenty smoky. The pregnancy appearing here in the film serves two purposes (it sets a plot beat – now we have another complication preventing them from leaving the apartment, and it signals the beginning of the second day). But to get to the second day, we need a montage. Also, rather than worrying about the potential of second hand smoke, why not spend more time worrying about getting your pregnant ass the hell out of the city?
Oliver says he and Jarrod will take the first watch and everyone else should get some sleep. They'll figure out what to do tomorrow morning. I am not sure how about 3 hours in movie time goes from dawn to dusk in LA, but it does.
That night the gang hears a firefight break out on the street. Oliver trains the telescope on what he can see and Candace links it to the TV (Oliver screams that it's too bright and will attract the Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space). Outside a pickup truck with some soldiers (we can't really tell) speeds down the road with one of the big shambling monsters after it. A few more of the big shamblers are smashing shit up too. It looks pretty cool and made me wish that they'd done a whole lot more of that kind of visual stuff, but this is all we get. It ends when the big shambler grabs the truck and eats all of the people in it.
Everyone goes back to sleep.
The next morning, on time, the blinds begin to raise. Jarrod and Oliver have spent all night awake and never bothered to change places with the girls and get some sleep. This worries Elaine as Jarrod is clearly tired and Oliver is getting more demanding.
Suddenly the scream of jet engines tears across the sky. Outside we're treated to the scene from Independence Day when the Black Knights first attack the big mother ship. This time though, because this is 2010 and not 1995, the jets are all predator drones or those experimental jet drones that look sort of like Stealth bombers. A whole shitload of Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space disgorge from the big ships hovering over the city and make relatively short work of the predators. This scene is pretty well done, if distanced from the audience by virtue of it being unmanned drones fighting non-speaking Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space.
All of the drones get whacked except one that manages to launch a nuke. The nuke smashes into the big ship (of which now there is only one over LA) and wipes it out. Everyone in the apartment cheers. The big ship crackles and burns and sinks to the ground.
Careful viewers will notice that the nuke doesn't make any noise that the characters hear, it doesn't produce a blast wave that the characters notice, there's no huge blowing dust cloud, there's no lingering darkness, the windows in the condo don't even rattle, and the explosion takes place, literally, less than a mile from the windows where they all watch.
It was a nuke, right? You'd think the Strause brothers would have googled "nuclear explosion" or "nuclear test footage" to see what sort of damage an atomic bomb can do. But it's clear that they didn't because the rest of the city beneath the ship is virtually untouched by the airburst. This is such a lazy turn of events that any goodwill that the film has engendered dissolves right there. And, to make things worse, like War of the Worlds, and Independence Day, the nuke which at first seems to have wasted the alien ships, doesn't. However, instead of encasing the ships in some sort of force field, the Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space just immediately rebuild and refly the ship like the film is running in reverse.
Oliver, who watches all of this through the telescope says "they aren't dead, they're pissed."
Jarrod pees in the toilet and tries to flush but the toilet doesn't work. Uh oh, that means the water doesn't work. Back in the living room he says they can't stay too much longer as there's no water for drinking. Mind you the counters are still festooned with full booze bottles, and while it's not water, per say, it's probably enough with whatever mixers are in the apartment (and in Walt's apartment now that it's empty of Walt and his little yappy dog) to stick around for a whole and no be too thirsty. He floats the idea again that they should consider making a run for Terry's yacht. Oliver says that they are safer in the building than they are on the street and doesn't he remember what happened when they tried to escape yesterday? He says that the aliens can't be winning and that any minute now there will be a rescue team dispatched to find survivors. The nuke was a sign that the government is still functioning somewhere so there's bound to be soldiers somewhere too.
Candace reminds him that the nuke didn't destroy the aliens and that maybe they can't be destroyed. If they can get out of the building and out of the city it would be better than waiting to be eaten by the Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space. Now the cast goes into a full on mope montage where they, over the course of a few hours, move from one small room of the apartment to the other in various states of boredom until night falls again.
Inter title – "Day Three"
Jarrod sits in the bathroom again. He splashes water over his face (which is strange as the water isn't supposed to be working.) He's feeling around the varicose veins on his side again and Elaine notices him. She asks if he's okay and he replies that he still feels all powerful, like from the first second he looked unto the blue lights.
At some point in this idiocy one of the blinds falls down. I have no idea why because the script didn't call attention to it the way it maybe should have, but somewhere in the narrative Oliver and Candace rig up a new blind using some tape and a sheet.
Jarred floats the idea of making a run for the marina again. Oliver tells him he's cuckoo-bananas and doesn't he remember what happened last time they tried that? Besides, why she he trust Jarrod or Elaine as they've both been brain napped by the blue lights, worse, Elaine is carrying a possible space baby. I think Oliver needs to study some middle school biology. Well, not him, the screenwriters do.
How he managed to muddle through this stupid dialogue is anyone's guess. Maybe all actors are like Ron Burgundy and the words on the teleprompter never slow down even for a second as they go from eyes to mouth. Who knows?
Jarrod grabs Oliver and lifts him off the floor. He says that protecting his baby and Elaine is the most important thing right now and if he doesn't want to die right here right now then he'll not stand in the way. Oliver says he's an idiot and he isn't going.
The argument sort of resolves itself when Candace screams that a chopper is hovering over the condo next door and discharging soldiers to the rooftop. Everyone runs to the balcony to signal that they're there but the soldiers don't see them. Jarrod grabs Elain and runs for the rooftop. Oliver and Candace stay in the apartment figuring that rescue is coming. Jarrod says that their defensive strategy of using silk sheets is bound to fail. Doesn't matter I guess.
Jarrod and Elaine hit the roof and they signal the soldiers, one of the Giant Shamblers grabs the chopper and Matix-crashes it into the side of the building. Before you can say "Hmm, when is this movie going to end?" a Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space, with its tentacles aplenty jumps out of the stairwell and launches itself after Jarrod and Elaine. A fight ensues. Jarrod tries to get Elain to the scaffolding leading to ground level but the Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space jumps in the way and they have to fight the thing off. Meanwhile the soldiers on the other roof shoot at the Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space, killing it.
A Giant Shambler makes short work of the soldiers.
Down in the apartment, Candace watches the city through the telescope and apparently focuses in on the blue lights (why she does this is anyone's guess). She gets possessed and walks off the balcony. One of the Space Vagina Monsters from Outer Space lands on the balcony and comes after Oliver who turns on the natural gas and flicks a lighter destroying the penthouse.
At ground level Jarrod and Elaine ate scooped and and brought the mother ship (they kiss in midair, awwwwww).
We get a few shots of the worldwide destruction lifted from Independence Day.
Now, other reviews have made quite lot of hay out of the idiotic and ridiculous ending. And I am sort of less with them than I am with the "well, they lifted everything else from other movies why not this too" school of thought. Let's go inside the mothership shall we?
Inside the mother ship, a group of alien things, taken DIRECTLY from The Matrix, are de-braining the people in the ship and feeding the brains (which are colored glowing blue) into an ornate habitrail of pipes where they are eventually put into either a space vagina monster from space or one of the Giant Shamblers. Elaine awakens and watches as Jarrod's brain is snatched. His is weirdly orange though. Once it gets implanted into a Giant Shambler, he retains his jarrodness and attacks the machines about to debrain Elaine. Ah, like the inexplicable computer virus delivered by a Powerbook and Jeff Goldblum in Indedependence Day, like when Rufus Sewell takes over the big machines that power the Dark City, like when Neo realizes he's the messiah, like when all six of us in the theater collectively groaned and started to laugh.
Cut to another flyover over the building and all of the empty streets and cars parked neatly in the lots of the empty city. It's almost like the events of the movie failed to happen at all, or worse, the special effects team forgot to add the realistic battle damage overlays to the denouement.
The IMBD lists there as being a Skyline 2 in the works. One can only imagine the horror of that film making it to the cinemas, but you know, I sort of hope it does. There are almost no better places to watch utter crap than in a cavernous theater with a bunch of people trying to suppress their laughter as the drama and excitement spools out across the screen. The Strause brothers are awful, stupid, shitty directors who can't frame a scene to save their lives and who by virtue of inconsistent handheld cameras make their film even more inacessible. Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem was filmed almost entirely in black (don't believe me? Watch it on cable sometime) so you can't tell how awful they are because you can't tell what the hell is going on at any given time. Here we've shot almost always in the full light of day, but it doesn't help. The script is another huge failing. Characters never speak about anything over than the space vagina monsters and what to do with the blinds. The characters aren't even defined well. I get the idea that these new giant monster films are meant to explore the way that everyday people deal with the unexpected horrors of a giant monster attack, but these aren't regular people. It's very hard for us to relate to a Ferrari driving, penthouse living asshole – same as it was in Cloverfield to gel with the overprivileged yuppy shitfaces in that movie. Sure, there's ways to make us care about them, usually by letting them talk about stuff that fleshes them out as people, but all of these films are making the same mistake. They assume that all anyone would talk about while trapped in an apartment (or running through Manhattan) is the shit going on immediately around them. At least in Cloverfield there were a few instances where the characters tried to lighten things up with semi-spontaneous humor. In Skyline we don't even get the scripted equivalent of a knock-knock joke. None of the characters remarks on the ridiculousness of their predicament even once. No one falls apart emotionally and gives up. No one completely panics. No one becomes a natural leader. No one stands out as a voice of reason. We know Jarrod is the hero of the story but he doesn't really do anything – to make himself even remotely heroic.
Also torpedoing the script is the lack of the monsters to be anything worth watching. They have as much personality as a shoe. And it's never made clear at all what lies in store for the people being taken. If they were just being killed off or mutilated or something we can relate. But they aren't. The monsters are taking them up into their ships. For all we know they could be having a great time in there eating pizza and watching basketball or playing Alien X Box. The characters automatically assume nothing, they don't even guess what's going on inside. Finally, there's no satisfactory sort of big resolution to the plot. Even in Cloverfield (which I hated) the film is framed with the found footage, we know before meeting the insufferable assholes we'll spend the next eternity with, that the government fought of something and nuked New York City. Someone other than the main characters was part of the story. Here, we get nada, and if you don't like the main characters (as it's impossible here) then you're out of luck as there's no other tension. No wondering if science will find a way to kill the alien ships, or of the army will rally, or whatever. It's like watching a film about winning tickets, and going to, the superbowl but never revealing which teams are playing or who won. Admittedly these aren't critical elements of the story, and if they were we'd be talking about a standard Godzilla type monster film, but you've got to give us something. Monsters from earlier in the year makes this same mistake mostly, but by giving us a little back story it gets around some of the larger problems, we know the world is larger, that other people are involved, that there are other stories in the maelstrom.
Here in Skyline we get shit.
If the script wasn't utter crap, the story could have been about how the people living around the condo development dealt with the invasion. What were the regular people doing? What was the world like for them? We'll never know because they didn't write the movie, special effects artists who long for a Ferrari and tranny girlfriend and a penthouse did.
And we're the worse off ones for it.