I want to leave it there but I can’t. The tears streaming from my eyes, and my editor’s voice in my head won’t let me. The tears are as confused as I am as to why they are falling down my face. My left brain is laughing at the ridiculous amount of time and money that appears to have been wasted making Skyline, and the right side is truly upset. Genuinely, deeply upset.
If you get excited at the mere mention of the ’96 Will Smith vehicle Independence Day, and you were lucky enough to spot the Skyline standee’s at the cinema you would be forgiven for thinking you were on to a sure thing – all with the added bonus of Turk from Scrubs being in it. What we were in fact faced with was an awful amalgamation of Cloverfield and War Of The Worlds, with added sickbag.
The Brothers Strause as they are now known, have time and again proven their skill with special effects. Say what you like about Aliens vs Predator: Requiem, for example, but it looks great. True to form in Skyline they don’t visually disappoint. The daylight scenes, complete with spacecraft and fighter jet combat around giant alien squids, looks fantastic. The explosions look real, and seeing thousands of people vacuumed into the sky was truly amazing, but the effects aren’t the problem: its the tedious dialogue and feckless characters that are.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect realism from my science fiction: I am proud of my suspension of disbelief but I do expect human beings to act like human beings. During one scene the hero of our film is escaping from a room where the door has a rounded handle (remember that, it is important), but instead of turning the handle like anybody with a brain cell would do, we are forced to watch painfully as they pull again and again and againon the door. Its almost like The Strause Brothers figured they could develop tension by having their characters de-evolve before our very eyes, to the point where they’d get all confused if they ended up in a revolving door.
There is one scene in particular that, as I write this, is still making my skin itch. In one of many attempts at blindsiding us into feeling empathy towards this band of two dimensional mannequins, the obligatory pregnant one who has just had a brush with the aliens begins complaining about somebody smoking near her that will harm her unborn child. I found myself screaming at the screen “Screw passive smoking. What about the hundred foot aliens?”. Oh, and if I wasn’t howling with rage I was laughing inappropriately while the cast was systematically torn to pieces, so I guess there was an upside after all.
I am left with very few verbs that could do my viewpoint justice, so in times of doubt, I’ll try and predict what other reviewer types might say. I imagine Jeremy Clarkson would liken it to “Germany covered in blancmange”. Charlie Brooker might say “I should be programmed to vomit all over the screen at the mere sight of this”. But that’s them. Me? I shall unleash the most terrible, most cutting remarks I have ever been on the recieving end of towards this sorry excuse of a movie: I’m not angry at you, Skyline, I’m just very, very disappointed.