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- Director: Colin Strause, Greg Strause
- Writers: Joshua Cordes, Liam ODonnell
- Stars: Eric Balfour, Donald Faison and Scottie Thompson
- Release Date: November 2010
- Genre: Sci-fi, Thriller
- Run Time: 94 min
Soon, our first encounter will become our last stand.
They drop from the sky with no warning. They do seemingly inexplicable things. They are capable of things that defy human experience. And we see it from the perspective of people we have no real connection to.
My first thoughts were something like, How are K-Fed and Bobby Brown gonna save the planet? Turns out, I need not have wondered.
What I thought the movie did very well was tell the story from the point of view of a handful of people that have no extraordinary attributes whatsoever. Disaster movies tend to have characters able to overcome improbable odds to somehow accomplish some measure of victory for Earth and/or humanity. Not so in Skyline. We have an apparently successful recording artist living the high life in L.A. and his friend, who possesses some measure of marketing talent. Rounded out with girlfriends, other assorted attractive female hangers-on, and what appears to be one of the security guards of the condominium complex in which the recording artist resides.
As far from everyday normal as this group might seem to be, they could very easily be real people, particularly in La-La Land. And the best part is that they reacted to events in a very normal, everyday human way. Weird stuff happens, and so they try to make sense of it, try to get a look at whats going on. And what they see makes no sense. There are no moments of inspired intuition, no really extraordinary feats of heroism or even ordinary ones.
Every plan of action the characters come up with fails, their safe-zones continually diminish, and characters are inexorably picked off. This is mirrored by the larger reaction of the military and their attempts to resist the alien menace. While slightly more successful in causing some injury to the aliens, their ultimate futility is seen when what looks to be an incredibly agile stealth bomber dances and dodges its way through aerial combat to release the Hail-Mary tactical nuke missile even as it is finally shot down. We follow the missile as it tracks toward the largest of alien craft and BOOM! Lots of bright light and big noise, and we see the alien vessel crashing to the ground as a smoldering wreck. Yay! But wait, holy crap, and oh noes! The aliens have regenerative/repair abilities congruent with their clearly organic-machine nature. The actors best moments come when they convey the despair and frustration of seeing every soap-bubble of hope unavoidably popped.
Earth is a rich and rare cache of resources presumably not found in many places in the vast, cold reaches of space. The aliens are here to secure their own continued survival with our delicious goodies. Our own species does this exact same thing to plants and animals across the globe. So what more motivation do the aliens need? And how could we realistically resist? None, and we cant, any more than the Amazon or marine life could. I dont know how much more real the story could get.
The movie doesnt satisfy the audience with a heroic victory for mankind. Or any victory, for that matter. And in this, it bucks the seemingly inescapable trend for reassuring us with some message about how adhering to noble virtues will allow us to win out in the end. To me, the film demonstrated exactly how fragile and small we and our planet are in the grander scheme of the universe. Its an ugly, cold truth, and we might prefer to be deluded that we can overcome if we just (add inspiring platitude here). But if our real-life local and global disasters are any indication, those sorts of wins only come at the very end and from the efforts of survivors after the fact. In the scenario this movie presents, we wont get that chance. Were aliens ever to come knocking, humanity as it is now is simply boned. And thats it.
Lots of people will not like or want to hear that message from a work of fiction. But I think the makers of this film deserve credit for their much more likely message of futility. Its not something we get a lot of from movies. Every now and again, its a nice change from the improbable happy ending.