Posted by: greercn | November 15, 2010

Skyline

Do you love monster movies? I do. There is a special place in my heart for those cheap Japanese Godzilla, Godzuki and Mothra flicks that were made on such low budgets that you could see the tiny technicians huffing and puffing as they wheeled the massive cardboard figure into position.

“Skyline” owes a lot more to those films than to “District 9″,”Paranormal Activity” “The Fourth Kind”or the rest of the recent slew of attempts to bring alien creatures to the screen. It’s a bad picture with so much fun in it that it hits my favourite B movie genre place. It almost succeeds and I do like the sense of an outrageous attempt at greatness. 

Of course, it’s trying to say something about modern life. It doesn’t do that. It tries to anaesthetise us away from the real threats of the economy tanking and terrorism and war. I imagine most critics will hate it. If you are a fan of B movies, you will probably like it a lot because it feels like a mix of modern special effects with those old-fashioned 1950s and 1960s monster movies.

It didn’t cost too much to make. The sleek LA apartment and the glossy cars were probably borrowed. There are no big names here, with Donald Faison being just about the biggest star. The young people are glossy and groomed, but there are far worse looks available during my average commute to work. 

The plot? Well, this is more a plotlet or a plot lite. A young couple flies to LA from New York and they stay with rich friends. There is a party. Then, in the middle of the night, eerie blue lights (looking rather like so many high tech blue lights) which signal the arrival of alien monsters, who look rather like the seafood spread you enjoyed on holiday last summer. Except, hopefully, your supper didn’t move around and threaten you.

About three years ago, monsters stopped looking like gorillas and started looking like octopus crossed with lobster. Why? You knew where you were with “King Kong”, even in the remakes.

Anyway, massive blue-lit moving crabs threaten LA. Our heroes decide to flee. Of course. This is for exactly the same reason that Fay Wray stumbles and loses her shoe, falling. It’s to add action sequences to the mix.

After about an hour, you glance at your watch. The Stratford Picture House audience starts to fidget and chat and play with phones, which does heighten the tension by adding extra blue light flickers around you.

There are far worse ways to spend 95 minutes of your life. Colin and Greg Strause made “Alien vs Predator” and they know quite a lot about humans fleeing monsters. There are probably writers, but who cares?

Eric Balfour and Scottie Thompson  (no, those names mean nothing to me, either) star as the young couple. They are visiting Donald Faison – who really is a very good actor – and his wife, played by Brittany Daniel. Robin Gammell and David Zayas put in a brave attempt to lift the tone of the piece – but they fail. Crystal Reed tries to emote – bless her pretty head – and she looks very sweet while she’s looking scared.

It’s quite endearing in its respect for an older genre. The big screen allows the special effects to entrance you. The sense of threat is well-maintained. It’s not deeply loveable, because you don’t care enough for that. But it’s pleasant and has thrills and those are good things.

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Responses

  1. My favourite moment: even in the face of impending obliteration by aggressive alien entities, one must NEVER smoke in the presence of a pregnant woman. They even went so far as to put a disclaimer about that in the credits.

    • There are some lovely moments of politically correct humour and that’s one of them. I don’t know if they were meant to be as funny as they are. The horror at the lack of water to shower in – an ongoing worry for my Californian friends – is another precious moment. The horror element may have been better than I first thought. A street light went on early this morning – looking sort of blue – and I woke up suddenly and took a few moments to figure out that it was not an alien invasion. Phew.


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