Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Skyline, the worst film of 2010

I don't know whether bad movie reviews ever have any effect other than encouraging people to go see the damn thing, so chances are I've just promoted this piece of shit pseudo-sci-fi flick, but you know what? If you wanna go see it, do. There's certain films which are so bad they make you lose even your basic sense of humanity towards other people which make you want to save them from wasting seven euros and two hours of their lives, and this is most certainly one of them. Besides, it keeps me off studying graph mathematics. So here goes.

Skyline is an alien invasion flick, one of those innovative emergent genres which you've probably never heard anything about before, and whatever issues of originality may arise from its choice of genre, they pale before the staggering banality of its execution. I suppose it's a good starting point if you've seen Cloverfield because, uhm, IT'S THE SAME FUCKING FILM. In both cases there's a house-party of rich wankers and top-models and suddenly aliens come and everybody dies, except that this new film loses what good there was in the original and fucks up the rest. By the way, Cloverfield is a pretty dreadful movie, so if I'm saying 'Skyline is the bad version of Cloverfield,' I'm really not paying a very high compliment at all. (If the claim needs explaining, Cloverfield wants to create an immersive film by means of that hand-held camera technique, but then it stuffs its plot and dialogue with so many screaming clichés to remind you that IT'S ALL JUST A FILM that you're pulled right out of the experience before you can even get into it).

But about the IT'S THE SAME FUCKING THING problem, it recurs often enough in Skyline that I'm going to create an acronym for it: TSFT. You'll see this appearing a couple more times.

So we open the film with the typical collection of clichés, from the white guy who is dissatisfied with his job to the loving wife who, whooops, is pregnant and tells him in the middle of the party and then goes into a hissy fit because he isn't leaping for joy (no shit lady, the guy can't afford his damn car and he's meant to take care of a child, let's throw a party - oh wait, too late). Right behind them we get the other two clichés coming out of a room where they've been banging each other: the black guy, who is the best friend of the white guy because the latter, you see, he isn't racist!, and whose destiny is death because he's black, and the pretty girl, whose role is that of whimpering throughout the film and whose destiny of course is death because she's a slut. Then there's the 'official' girlfriend of the black guy, who is a bitch (not in the profligate sense, she's just really annoying, which is meant to 'excuse' the black guy for cheating on her with the slut, although the slut is exempt from such moral generosity of course), and a generic, emotive white guy who is (presumably?) the actual boyfriend of the slut. Ten minutes into the film, and we've established three love triangles we do not care about. This is going well.

As though we didn't already know by this stage that we're headed into one massively inbred movie, the director gives us an appetizer of the kind of mentality that we're going to have to endure by a rabid assertion of homophobia. Emotive guy is 'entertaining' everyone at the party by pointing a telescope (connected to a giant TV) at the neighbouring windows and trying to catch someone having sex. I don't know how something so fucking perverted could pass for endearing party-games when they should all be locked up and hung on the nearest tree the next day, but anyway. He catches this guy's face who's obviously on the receiving end of a blowjob, and when the other head comes up, it turns out, hold your breath, that it's another guy. Personally it struck me as the most predictable thing, but still everyone at the party starts yelling and laughing and going all icky, because homosexuality is sooo funny and sooo disgusting (then why are you pointing your telescopes to it in the first place, you fucking morons) while Emotive guy stands there gaping like he's just seen aliens landing on earth. The irony isn't lost on me nor on anyone else, though when aliens actually *do* land on earth no-one seems half as surprised (the clichés are so powerful that even the clichéd characters themselves have gone dull to them).

So the aliens land at night, the blue light attracts Emotive guy to his doom, and we find out the 'twist,' guys, the thing that makes this film 'original.' The idea is that the aliens hypnotise you by means of this blue light. OOOOHHHH I SEEEE!!!!! The directors want to make sure we don't miss out on the particular cleverness of this, so they have the characters remind us. It's 'ingenious,' says Pregnant-girl, looking into the camera. Uwe Boll, take notes.

So the rest of the film is basically these guys trying to survive in the condo while the aliens wreak havoc. Their ideas are never much smart: first the black guy wants to take everyone to the yacht (rich sons of bitches, of course I'm supposed to identify with these assholes when I can't afford a hoover), Pregnant-girl vehemently disagrees and says they should not be doing that nor 'waiting here to die' either, not that anyone knows what the fuck else she's proposing, but the white guy agrees with the black guy, so they go out. There, half of them get sucked off, pardons, sucked *away* by these slimy bug things who suck brains out like it's TSFT as Starship Troopers and who fly around in capsules like it's TSFT as Independence Day (hard to believe anyone would go to the length of copying the creative ideas of that film, that's like trying to steal the dialogue from a silent film, there just isn't any). Then they all run back into the building, being saved in passing by the next cliché, the Tough Guy. Said Tough Guy is a bearded guy with a beer-belly who was the chief security of the building or something and who goes around insisting to our protagonist that 'this is real' and that he has to face up to the situation.

We get some shots of the military attempting to take down the aliens and failing (they throw an atomic bomb on them which somehow destroys the ship and leaves Los Angeles intact, which is absurd, but then the creatures inside the ship didn't even die, which is even more absurd, but by this stage we might as well be reading Beckett). Then the protagonist suggests they should all go back to the yacht, and the girlfriend looks at him bewildered, I mean, 'after what happened last time?' The protagonist looks at her with puppy eyes while muttering 'you say that like it were my fault' and he actually thinks it isn't, and meanwhile, just in passing, we're all wondering about a little detail: what in the name of flaming hell ARE these alien bug-things flying around?? What do they want? Where do they come from, why are they here? I mean, in the entire film they just land and kill everything and we're never told anything else as to what they are or want. They seem to have no civilisation, no culture, no coherent biology. They might as well be coming from the centre of the earth or from another dimension or from hell or from the projection of the human psyche or from the books of Armaggeddon or from some poltergeist gone wrong or from some ancient pharaoh's curse or from literally whatever. There isn't a single line of explanation.

Perhaps the only thing that seems to give them a casus belli is that they suck out human brains so that they can put it into their own creatures and make them live. Take a minute to soak in just how absurd this is from any scientific point of view. A species evolved in heavens knows which remote corner of which galaxy or temporal dimension is somehow dependent for its reproduction on, uhm, the human neurological system, which has only been in existence for a couple of hundred thousand years anyway? This is beyond any degree of stupidity!! And if they're so advanced as to create ships capable of spontaneously rebuilding themselves from an atomic explosion, wouldn't they already have brains far more bad-assed than ours? And then there's that process of 'instant transplant' where they just rip out a brain and insert it into their bodies and, hey presto, it's working for them just fine, what do you think it is, a phone card, and why the hell are they glowing like armbands when they're pulled from... oh FUCK IT.

So everyone dies but for the two protagonists, but not before the Tough Guy gets the single biggest cliché in the entire movie, because before dying he opens up the gas and when he's about to get sucked off, pardons, sucked *away* by an alien, he lights the match and says 'Vaya con dios, you son of a bitch.' You could hear the groans from outside the cinema, I swear.

What happens then? After the Terminator 2 TSFT mentioned above, the two protagonists get sucked up into the alien space-ship. We get a number of shots of different cities in the world run over by the aliens, so it's one of those depressing apocalyptic endings... but wait! We cut back to the inside of the alien ship, inside a gooey hive which is a blatant Aliens TSFT. The boy gets his brain sucked out while he's unconscious, and the girl is taken somewhere so her baby can be ripped out or something (yes, it's as disgusting as it sounds). But, when the brain of the boyfriend gets transplanted into the alien, for some utterly inexplicable and delusional reason it takes over the consciousness of the alien, and he runs to the rescue in slimy form. The girl recognises him, and we cut to credits as the 'man' gets ready to fight hoardes of aliens.

This is actually the most absurd, implausible, ridiculous and downright silly moment of the entire movie, but I'll say this if nothing else, that it's also the only bit which is kind of respectable. I mean, it's incredibly stupid, but at least it's stupid in its own way, a bit like Toxic Avenger or other splatter/horror films, rather than being a mere daguerrotype of other films seen before. It's a shade of another kind of movie, a movie which would have been wholly more stupid but also wholly more uncompromising and entertaining, one which I could have respected at least for what it was trying to be. Dostoevsky will have to forgive me for mentioning him in this review, but I think he was the one who said it's better to be stupid in our own way than clever in someone else's. Skyline doesn't have the courage to be either: mostly, it's just stupid in other people's way, a waste of your time and money and generally a disgrace to the genre, to the medium, and to the possibility of intelligence in the universe. Maybe we really do deserve to be invaded.

And with that, I've wasted my good hour and a half of the day. Now I'm off for some cookies.

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