Skyline (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Skyline (2010)

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ANDREW LIKESkyline is not nearly as bad as you might have heard.  Actually, given the rather acidic reputation preceding it, it's not even a sixteenth as bad as you may have heard.  It's more interesting than something like ID4, which shares some of the same genes but is a completely different species.  Yes, you'll get your explosions and action if you watch it but there seems to be a lot more going on under the hood than just about any action film released last year.

The film opens with one of those time reversals as Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and his girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson) are hungover in the middle of a fancy room.  Explosive blue lights come careening down from the night sky waking the two of them up as Jarrod is drawn to the blue flames that are licking the sides of the windows.  His veins turn blue and he is drawn into the light when suddenly we flash back fifteen hours before all of this started.

Before being rudely awoken, Jarrod and Elaine were visiting with Jarrod's friend Terry (Donald Faison).  Terry isn't exactly the most humbling male around and cheats on his girlfriend Candice (Brittany Daniel) with his assistant Denise (Crystal Reed).  In the events leading up to the invasion, Jarrod finds out that Elaine is pregnant, and Jarrod is offered a job at Terry's special effects company.

Special effects which, by the way, are really interesting and well used.

In broad-view, this all seems to be giving us some kind of emotional connection for the inevitable conflict between aliens and humans.  Once we catch back up in the time line it's all chase sequences and counterattacks consisting of subterfuge and desperation.  Of course the military shows up to try and save the day, but Skyline isn't content with just having the good ol' U S of A kick a little butt and sending us to the credits with a smile.

There are two pregnancies at play in Skyline, Elaine's (obviously) and a second that I'll keep quiet for the sake of not spoiling the surprise.  The aliens are almost the opposite of the phallic creations in Alien with a suitably vaginal appeal and one of the most passive-aggressive invasion schemes put to film (stay through the closing credits and you'll see what I mean).  Of course the military is gung-ho to the extreme, but to what effect?  Sometimes it's infiltration, not destruction, that will save the day.

The obvious conflict between military and aliens is contrasted with how the "sensitive" Jarrod and the "misogynist" Terry deal with the strong women in their lives.  It's the ladies who save the day quite a number of times throughout Skyline and despite Jarrod's surface appeal as the more attractive and correct male lead he still holds some of the same prejudices that Terry does.  So what to make of that ending and Jarrod's fate?  Well, even in the new age old beliefs are buried in our actions and despite the possibly threatening appearance of new gender realities might not be that bad, and old prejudices keep us from seeing that.

I know that we all hate the government, and there's a symbolic purpose to their uselessness here, but how many movies have actually had a plot that was improved by government involvement?

I'm spouting off like this partly because of the way the directors, The Brothers Strause (very excited for their next movie), juxtaposed the various story-lines together and because the creature designs are that damn awesome.  Take a deep look when they're on-screen and keep in mind that this film was made for barely 20 million dollars.  On the surface it seems like they're no different than some of the foes you'd see in your standard Final Fantasy game but the subtle vaginal imagery really makes an impact during some key moments.

One thing that I'd like to address that I've heard quite a bit is the quality of acting in the film.  It's not bad and at times borders on very good.  There's not a single standout performance but no one woodenly reads their lines in the same kind of disconnect that, say, the actors in Yogi Bear did.  Ultimately they know that they're subservient to the images that are going to be blasting all around them and tune in their performances accordingly.  Not every film is supposed to have Oscar-caliber acting, and this one makes a great case for the potency of images.

So Skyline is a success on quite a few levels but let's just look at the broad one's.  If you want to get a solid action flick this week, pick up Skyline.  If you want to see how complicated imagery can be juxtaposed with carefully structured plot twists to create complicated messages, give Skyline a whirl.  Then we can all meet in the middle and try to talk to each other through that gulf of mutual incomprehension.  It's a lot more credit than the US gave those aliens anyway...

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Skyline (2010)

Written and directed by The Brothers Strause.
Starring Eric Balfour, Scottie Thompson, and Donald Faison.

Posted by Andrew

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