Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Skip 'Skyline'

Two stars

By Thomas Tracy

Zombies aren’t the only ones trying to corner the market on human brains.

So are the cerebellum-chewing aliens in “Skyline,” an otherwise brainless B movie that’s briefly booted up to an A-minus thanks to its special effects, which are surprisingly impressive.

Yet, even the eye-popping array of spaceships and goo-drooling aliens get quickly overshadowed by the pedantic script and atrocious acting that only B-movie legend Ed Wood would stand up and applaud for.

Known better for their visual effects than directing chops, Colin and Greg Strause (the same team who gave us the almost unwatchable “Alien vs. Predator: Requiem”) try to weave a compelling tale about a group of people stuck in a Los Angeles high rise when aliens attack, but forgot to stitch in a little something called tension — the element that kept us on the edge of our seats during both “Cloverfield” and “Independence Day.”

Ironically, the Brothers Strause — as they like to be called — try to mesh both of these movies together in “Skyline,” but all we end up getting are poor knock-offs of the beginning of “Cloverfield” and the ending of “Independence Day” — literally.

After spending the night partying at a friend’s penthouse, Brooklynites Jarrod (Eric Balfour, pictured, “24”) and Elaine (newcomer Scottie Thompson) are woken up by a creepy blue light that draws people to it like a human bug zapper.

But the blue lights were just a prelude to invasion. With ships that sideline as Hoover vacuum cleaners, an unknown alien fleet has come looking to suck up every human in sight.

Jarrod, Elaine and an assortment of indistinguishable survivors watch it all from their lofty tower thanks to a high powered telescope connected to a flat screen television — for a good chunk of the movie we’re actually watching them watching the invasion on television.

Predictably, they try to escape the building, but end up scrambling back inside when they come across alien scanner ships and the aliens themselves, which at times seem bigger than the ships that brought them here.
But no one knows just why they’re here. The people Jarrod and Elaine meet during their escape attempts are no help since they’re either killed or sucked up into an alien ship within moments of introducing themselves.

We later get the idea that the alien invaders — for some inexplicable reason — are fueled by human brain matter, but that’s just as ridiculous as...well, any zombie movie you might watch.

The Brothers Strause do a yeoman’s job of distracting us away from the poor plot with dazzling array of special effect, but in the end we’ve seen them all before in better movies like “District 9” and “War of the Worlds,” both the Tom Cruise 2005 version and the original made in 1953 — long before one could create a brain-sucking alien on a MacBook Pro.

“Skyline.” Starring Eric Balfour and Scottie Thompson. Directed by the Brothers Strause. Running time: 92 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some language, and brief sexual content. Playing in Brooklyn at Access Digital Theatres - Pavilion Cinema in Park Slope, UA Court Street Stadium 12 in Downtown, UA Sheepshead Bay 14Bay Ridge Alpine Cinemas, and Linden Boulevard Multiplex Cinemas in East New York.


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