BLOGS

<i>Skyline</i>: Trapped in a Bad Movie, With No Hope of Escape

The studio behind the upcoming alien invasion movie Battle: Los Angeles was supposedly considering suing the directors of Skyline -- who are also special effects technicians on BLA -- because the movies are too similar. But Skyline may be the best advertisement for Battle: Los Angeles anyone could ask for. If there is a good, exciting action movie in Skyline, it takes place outside the apartment complex where all of the action is. The characters are basically watching a legitimately awesome action movie unfold outside their house, and while they're certainly in danger from the aliens, their lives and their actions are pretty much meaningless. Not just because they don't really affect the course of the action at all, but because you don't particularly care about any of them. That, combined with a crummy ending, leaves you hungry for an alien invasion movie you can be in the thick of, and not just watch from the sidelines with a bunch of jerks.

The special effects in the movie are top-notch, of course -- which is why they were the focus of all the advertising. The story is a terrible mishmash of ideas and concepts, from the hastily sketched-out human plot, which lacks any real details, to the invasion itself, which involves a variety of different-shaped aliens that all do the exact same job, for unknown reasons. The humans -- Eric Balfour, Scottie Thompson, Brittany Daniel, Donald Faison and David Zayas -- are all played by TV actors, but I won't hold that against them. Maybe if they'd been given more to do than react angrily to revelations that threaten the relationships we can only assume they've been in for years, they could have dazzled us. But instead, they all just end up coming off as jerks -- lazy, cheating, control-freak, responsibility-shunning jerks. So when they start dying, it's hard to feel bad about it. And when they watch heroic soldiers and pilots shoot at the aliens, you want to know more about those people, and wonder if they're any nicer. (Battle: Los Angeles opens March 11, 2011, kids!)

The only things sketchier than the relationships are the aliens' plans, especially since they delegate a variety of minions to do the same task in the same boring apartment building. The big spaceships that hover, Independence Day-style over Los Angeles, dispatch lumbering Transformer-like robots to gather up whatever humans they missed with their glowing beams of light, which lure, entrance and power-vacuum up any humans who see them. They also send smaller ships, which release smaller squid-like robots, which look very Matrix-y. And they're snatching up humans, sucking them into themselves, and, if necessary, extracting their brains, which apparently act as power sources (also very Matrix-y), because the aliens plug into their human captives' skull areas and are then able to regenerate from any damage. Who knew that our sixth-grade math teacher was right about knowledge being power, and that she was unwittingly making us the target of brain-craving aliens?

And who knew that the method the aliens use to lure humans into captivity, if done and aborted often enough, could actually make a human resistant to their glowy powers? One of the characters ultimately does something the aliens are unprepared for, and while it's not the best set-up I've ever seen, it's all very promising... except that's where the movie ends, with an interesting development that could have segued into a whole new chapter of the film, if the budget hadn't already been exhausted. Of course, now that it's made back its budget in the opening weekend, it's ripe for a sequel -- maybe we could follow some army guys as they attempt to repel the alien invasion in LA? If it'd come out by next March, that'd be perfect.

Did you see Skyline? Let us know what you thought below, then check out our guide to the deadliest alien invasions. And read our reviews of Unstoppable and Morning Glory here!

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