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The Strange Things Boutique




DVD region 2. Momentum.

SkylineSkyline opens well. The first five minutes are impressively creepy, with blue lights falling silently from the sky in the middle of the night and seeming to possess the characters who awaken and look into them. It’s creepy, moody and mysterious. It sets the film up as an impressively dark alien invasion shocker.

Unfortunately, it’s the only decent moment in the entire film, which reverts to type almost immediately by introducing a bunch of immediately awful stereotypes played by familiar TV faces, if not names (look, it’s the dude from 24 and Six Feet Under! Hey, it’s that bloke from Scrubs) and then following their entirely predictable movements as Los Angeles is invaded by huge spaceships spilling out giant, tentacled aliens that seem intent on gobbling up the local populous. Our one-dimensional characters bicker about the best course of events, while token gestures are made to develop some characterisation (one woman reveals she’s pregnant; another finds photos of her boyfriend fooling around with another girl) before the big explosions, giant CGI monsters and shoot outs that the film is really concerned with take over entirely.

It’s ironic that this film emerges around the same time as Monsters, another movie about tentacled alien invaders. While that film is quiet, intelligent and ambiguous, Skyline presents its aliens as one-dimensional, brain-eating (really!) monsters, heroically fought against by an outclassed military and the film’s leads. It’s clearly influenced by Cloverfield, minus the home-movie camerawork, sense of empathy and any of the tension, and also takes in chunks of Independence Day and Dawn of the Dead - creating a less than satisfying whole that comes complete with stupid one-liners, hints of homophobia (a fussy neighbour with a small dog is not exactly heroic) and a predictable line in macho bullshit from the leads (including the women).

SkylineThe actors simply go through the motions - it’s probably not their fault that they seem so inconsequential, given the fact that they are simply playing action movie clichés, but performances are uniformly poor. Directors The Brothers Strause (really? How pretentious!) are FX men turned filmmakers, and clearly don’t know how to handle any sort of human interaction. So while some of the visuals look spectacular – if rather generic - the humans may as well have been CGI-generated too. And a couple of half-decent alien attack scenes are not enough to compensate for the rest of the movie.

Skyline, of course, isn’t aimed at me. It’s for fist-pumping oafs who like to chant ‘USA! USA!’ and saw the Japanese earthquake and tsunami as ‘payback for Pearl Harbor’. It’s for yobbish teens who sit in multiplexes texting their mates, talking loudly and threatening to stab anyone who asks them to shut up. It’s for people who are really excited at the thought of Schwarzenegger making a new film. In other words, it’s for idiots.

The DVD comes with two commentaries, from the directors and the writers. I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting through the film again tonight, so I’ll have to wait another day to see what excuses they come up with for this. There are also deleted / extended scenes, a ‘pre-visualisation’ and trailers. They don’t help.






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