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Bewildering Stories


Colin Strause, Greg Strause, dirs.

reviewed by Lewayne L. White

Directors: Colin Strause, Greg Strause
Writers: Joshua Cordes, Liam O’ Donnell
Starring: Eric Balfour, Scottie Thompson,
Donald Faison
Length: 1:34
Rating: PG-13
Date: 12 Nov 2010
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are stuck in War of the Worlds.

No, really.

The conceit of this film is that it’s an alien invasion spectacular told from the point of view of people who aren’t the mega-action heroes of an alien invasion spectacular.

The idea is interesting if properly explored... But that doesn’t happen in this film.

Before I begin, I will warn you that I will spoil this film for two reasons:
1. I have issues with the film that I don’t want to waste time pussyfooting around.
2. I don’t want you to watch this movie anyway.

Skyline begins with an opening teaser: a couple are awakened by mysterious lights outside their apartment. The male of the couple goes to investigate, is mesmerized by a blue glow coming in through the window, and his skin begins to discolor and varicose-vein style designs begin to spread across his face. There is much screaming and distress and...

We cut to the day before.

Wherein we are introduced to twenty-something couple Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and Elaine (Scottie Thompson) who are arriving in L.A. for the birthday party of Jarrod’s ultra-successful childhood pal, Terry (Donald Faison).

We’re introduced to Terry’s jealous girlfriend, Candice (Brittany Daniel), Terry’s assistant, Denise (Crystal Reed), Terry’s L.A.-douchey associate, Ray (Neil Hopkins) in order to establish ‘character’ for all the shallow, two-dimensional people in the movie.

Oh, and Elaine is pregnant, which she reveals to Eric when they have a spat during the party, even though the audience is well aware of it before that point.

The party ends, and the Matrix-esque aliens arrive. Screaming and panic commences and proceeds for some time as disposable characters are destroyed, others are introduced so they, too, can be destroyed. Rinse and repeat. This is essentially a bottle-show, but it runs too long with too little development to be interesting.

The military arrives, stuff gets blown up, the aliens recover, destroy or snatch more people. And eventually it comes down to a Jarrod and Elaine running around a rooftop until she is grabbed by an alien, and Jarrod fights it off. Then he is grabbed by an alien and Elaine fights it off. (Or vice-versa.) Then they are both whisked up into an alien craft making sure to kiss one final time before they are destroyed.

Had it ended there I’d have chalked this up as a SyFy movie with good effects and wished I had my ninety or so minutes back.

Then Elaine is sorted from a pile of humans inside the ship and, because the aliens recognize that she’s pregnant (even they could read the signs before Jarrod), is dumped into another room with another pregnant woman. We know that woman is pregnant because the aliens keep sniffing at her abdomen as she screams, “My baby!” over and over.

Meanwhile, Jarrod is sorted from the pile, his brain is ripped out, and joins a bunch of other extracted brains as they shoot up a series of tubes, and individually popped into the waiting skulls of some other sort of alien monster.

At this point, we realize that Jarrod is somehow different, presumably because of his alien varicose-vein markings that keep getting brought up through the course of the film.

Also, when his brain plugs into an alien, all its bodylights turn red, and EVERY SINGLE OTHER ALIEN has BLUE lights on its body.

Plus, he fights off more alien machinery to save Elaine from whatever they were going to do to her.

And somehow, she recognizes that the giant ‘Ghostbusters’ terror dog standing over her, putting its talon lovingly on her belly, is her boyfriend. Then aliens begin to arrive in the room and... CREDITS.

Now, had they cut about 70% of the apartment scenes, and continued forward from the end scene for another forty minutes or so, I might have been interested in this “change” in Jarrod and Elaine’s relationship. Instead, we have the aforementioned screaming and panic throughout much of the film and disposable characters dying.

The idea for this film was interesting. The execution, not so much.

Now, when I heard that the film was shot for $500,000, I was sort of impressed. Then I learned that while it cost that much to shoot, the CG effects cost about $10 million. So, like its bigger-scale Hollywood counterparts, we see that the priority was less story and more “That looks awesome!”

And it does look awesome.

The shots are well handled, and look professional. The effects are well-rendered and fit fairly seamlessly with the “real” environment. The alien ships, the aliens, and the random, giant, tentacled, terror dog look consistent within their “world.” But after almost an hour and a half, it all stops being impressive.

Please, for your own sake, DON”T spend money to watch this film. I caught it via Netflix streaming, and even though it was essentially free — given the volume of material I watch on Netflix — I still feel like demanding my money back.

It’s not worth your time.

If you want to watch an alien invasion movie, there are plenty of other, better, films to choose from... Like Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Copyright © 2011 by Lewayne L. White

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