Um…and the point was…?

Skyline is a low-budget breath of fresh air. In today’s Hollywood, where filmmakers routinely spend $100 million dollars only to make a really crappy movie, it’s good to know that for a tenth of that they can make one just as bad.

Somewhere in Southern California, after a viewing of Cloverfield, I figure the two Strause brothers (aka, “The Brothers Strause”) turned to each other and said something like:

“Dude! Instead of music videos, we should make a Cloverfield movie–but about aliens!”

“Dude, you’re right! Kinda like Independence Day!”

And The Matrix!”

“With stuff like from Aliens!”

And Transformers!”

Dude, Close Encounters!”


Too bad it didn’t occur to them to use the good parts from those movies.

Plot Summary: Our heroic couple, Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and Elaine (Scottie Thompson) arrive in L.A. to visit their rich friend Terry (no relation to me), played by Scrubs alum Donald Faison. They all get eaten.

The Story: Skyline has a terrific opening. Eschewing Hollywood’s trend of starting with a ton of backstory, it jumps right into action, suspense, and Scottie Thompson wandering around in her underwear. For about three minutes, that is. Then comes the “Fifteen hours earlier” flashback with a ton of backstory.

The flashback begins with Jarrod and Elaine landing in L.A. to visit Jarrod’s old pal Terry. Elaine complains of being nauseated, probably because she just finished reading the script. They’re picked up by a limo and scooted away to a flat of luxury condos, where Terry lives in the penthouse with his bevy of babes and sycophants. Terry has made it big doing something with robots of some kind. Or maybe music. Or drugs. I’m not really sure, but the point is, he’s rich. He wants Jarrod to move out to L.A., but Jarrod isn’t so sure, especially after Elaine pulls that tired old, “Hey, I’m pregnant” gambit on him.

After a day of living the L.A. lifestyle of responsible drinking and low-key partying, the friends and sycophants pass out in Terry’s apartment. At 4:27 a.m., mysterious lights appear through the blinds. Ray, aka Sycophant #1, gazes at the lights and a special effect from the X-files suddenly crawls over his face. He opens the door to the balcony and disappears, to the horror of Sycophant #2 (Denise) to whom he must have owed money or something, because otherwise, I didn’t see a problem.

Denise’s screaming causes Jarrod and Elaine to meander into the mis-named “living room” to see what’s up. Jarrod nearly succumbs to the same special effect as Ray, but is pulled away from the light just in time. Clearly, however, he is infected, which would have foreshadowed something of great plot significance if either of the Brothers Strause had attended film school.

The lights disappear and, this being L.A., everyone in the city goes back to their sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

The next day dawns, and since the U.S. military and FEMA are nowhere in sight, everyone is caught off-guard when the lights return! Jarrod and Terry go up to the roof, armed with a Baretta 9mm (no doubt legally registered), to confront the situation. Alien ships descend from the sky and like airborne Roombas start vacuuming up residents. Jarrod and Terry escape from the roof with Elaine’s help–but she gazes into the light and is also infected. This, too, would lead to great repercussions later had the Brothers Strause known anything about film making.

Our heroes return to the penthouse and decide the safest course of action would be to abandon the giant concrete structure they’re in and flee across open ground to the marina, where they can spend the morning finding a boat, getting it started, and scooting out onto the water where it’s just gotta be safe. Plus, the girls can work on their tans.

Announcing to his girlfriend, Candice, that he “has everything under control,” Terry rushes over to an elderly neighbor’s apartment to either save him or steal his car–it was a bit ambiguous. An alien ship that has escaped from the Matrix attacks them, and the neighbor’s stupid little yap dog gets himself and his kindly owner killed. (Yet another reason not to own a dog.)

Terry rushes back to the penthouse where he discovers his girlfriend Candice has found pictures of him and Suckophant, er, Sycophant #2 gettin’ all jiggy wit’ it. Since the world’s ending and all, they put the discussion on hold and the gang makes their way to the parking garage. Terry hops in his Ferrari F430 Spider and leads the convoy to the exit. Given that alien hover ships are sucking people up off the street I would have put the top up, but that’s just me.

However, turns out not to make a hell of a lot of difference as a giant alien transformer monster creature is awaiting just such a foolish move. It stomps the car into a CGI pancake as soon is it clears the entrance, instantly killing Sycophant #2. Before Terry can escape, he is grabbed by the alien’s giant Japanese tentacle appendages and sucked into oblivion in the creature’s maw. Candice is still pissed about the pictures, though.

This stream of events leads the survivors to reconsider their escape plan, and they rush back up to the penthouse with the help of the building superintendent, Oliver.

By now, someone at NORAD has figured out something is amiss and launches a massive airstrike of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), since the Obama administration has eliminated funding for our manned fighters. A UAV fires a missile at one of the hovering motherships. The missile goes directly into the ship’s thermal exhaust port and detonates in a massive mushroom cloud of thermonuclear death. The ship crashes into the ground, showing that mankind has a fighting chance. Until it rises back up and begins reassembling itself, showing that mankind is doomed.

Our heroes are faced with a conundrum: choose between certain, horrible death in the street or stay in an apartment building full of food and drinks and places to hide. They decide to try escaping again.

At this point the Army rapid deployment forces show up,  a scant day or so after the invasion. Helicopters drop snipers armed with .50 caliber rifles and shoulder-mounted rockets. Jarrod and Elaine leave Oliver and Candice and rush to the roof to call for help. This, of course, alerts the aliens to the presence of the squad, and they promptly descend on the roof and start scarfing up soldiers like a bunch of camouflaged chiclets. Having never seen Cloverfield, Jarrod and Elaine wave to a passing helicopter to come rescue them. Alerted now to the helicopter’s presence as well, an alien fires his Japanese anteater-like tentacle tongue and destroys it, since someone forgot to provide air support.

Aliens now roam the streets of L.A., sucking up stragglers with their tentacles. (“Dude, War of the Worlds!”) The critters have glowing LED eyeballs, subtly displaying the Brothers’ Strause environmental awareness. One of them leaps onto the roof and attacks Jarrod (an alien, not a Brother Strause). Elaine swoops in from behind it and kills it with an ax. But before they can escape, it comes back to life and jumps on Elaine, screeching “Who’s your boyfriend now?” in its native language. Jarrod attacks the creature with a concrete block and kills it. Instead of using million-dollar nukes, Stinger missiles, and UAVs, the Department of Defense should have just rolled some trucks into Home Depot, picked up same day laborers and bricks, and gone medieval on the aliens’ ass.

Back in the abandoned penthouse, Oliver and Candice are busy surviving by not going outside. Candice finds the telescope Terry uses for spying on his gay neighbors and watches everything unfold over the city, sadly forgetting that looking at the aliens causes you to get possessed. Oops. She walks out onto the balcony and lets herself get sucked up (and not in the good way). Oliver realizes all is lost and turns on the gas (gas?) in the penthouse and within seconds has flooded it to exactly combustion mixture. He then puts a hollow cigarette in his mouth (don’t ask me), picks up his lighter and waits. An alien floats into his room and he suavely clicks the lighter, which doesn’t work.

By this time, I’m fully on the aliens’ side, since none of these people deserve to live.

Oliver struggles with the creature, regains his lighter, and divining that it will now function, looks the creature in the LEDs and says, “Via con Dios,” which is superintendent for “Yippie ki yay, mother–” and clicks his Bic. The penthouse explodes, killing Oliver and probably not hurting the creature at all since a gas explosion is significantly cooler than a nuclear detonation.

Meanwhile on the roof, Jarrod and Elaine know the game is up. Surrendering to the inevitable, they allow themselves to be sucked up to a mothership. As they disappear into the light, they share one last kiss, conveying the message that love is eternal and can never truly die. The screen fades to white and the movie is over. And none too soon, since there was no way the Brothers Strause could possibly have made anything stupider.

Then the white screen faded into the next scene.

We’re now in the bowels of the alien ship, where Elaine awakens in a dark, nasty tomb filled with debris and other humans. Alien tentacle creatures are floating around, popping the heads off people and pulling out their glowing (?) brain stem, Pez-style. Elaine sees one pick up Jarrod, who awakens, defeats the creature and makes good their escape.

Ha ha. Not really. The creature pulls off Jarrod’s head, sucks out his intact brain, and puts it into its own body.

Naturally, Elaine finds this a mite disturbing and screams. Another critter grabs her, starts to pop off her head but then . . . it sends a tentacle probing over her body (“I’m not touching you!”). It finds the baby! Well, it can’t very well kill her now. (Note: if you’re a pregnant woman captured by decapitating, brain-eating aliens, hope they’re pro-life.)

So the creature drops her, but then it or maybe another one climbs on top of her or maybe threatens to do something, I dunno, but she screams again alerting–

The alien that took Jarrod’s brain! (A much better title than Skyline, by the way.)

It rushes to her aid, beats the living snot out of the creature threatening her, then looms over her, running its clawed tentacle tenderly over her face. Terrified at first, Elaine then gazes longingly into the hideous creature’s love-filled LEDs and whispers, “Jarrod?”

And presumably they lived happily ever after. Not counting the lifetime of horrible nightmares of this entire experience, that is.

I’m talking about mine, not Elaine’s.

7 Responses to “Skyline”

  • What, it wasn’t obvious that this was going to suck? I figured that out as soon as I saw the Krause name on it.

    Not planning to forgive them for AVP:R any time soon, I can assure you.

  • Hadn’t seen anything by the B.K. before. Don’t plan to again, either.

  • Good call. You’re doing a service to mankind by spreading this warning. I’ll probably watch this POS when it comes on cable, but at least I know what to expect.

  • Matt:

    So when I surmised this movie was probably a cross between “Independence Day” and “War of the Worlds”, I wasn’t far off? I hope I can catch this someday on SyFy right after “Sharktopus”.

  • Yeah, maybe in a triple-feature with “Mansquito.”

  • Brian T:

    Thanks for saving me the ten bucks or so for a ticket, not to mention the years of therapy I’d go through so I could hear the word “skyline” without twitching.

  • Bob:

    I didnt think it was bad. The writing could have been (alot) better but the effects were above par. Going in with the expectation of having fun and seeing aliens; I wasnt disappointed. Expecting a fantastical world with an awesome story and sub plot with character build ups etc….yeah you are probably gonna get up to go to the bathroom and forget to go back.

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