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Crazy ending not enough to save 'Skyline'

If you haven't already thought about what you'll do when the aliensshow up and blow it all to hell, thanks in advance for making me stepover your burning corpse, jerk.

It's one thing to plan for zombies or real life Waterworld orwhatever. Make sure you've got your samurai sword or your water-wingsand you're basically set. Aliens are an altogether different bowl ofapocalypse chips. We won't know what they're after. How do you killthem? Will bullets work, or will we have to get creative with the coldand/or Apple virus?

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

So I give the new alien invasion flick Skyline credit fortaking its time in revealing the aliens' motivations. I deduct doublepoints because they may have held out on the explanation for otherreasons — like they spent less time thinking about how these alienswork than I'm about to spend booing them.

Eric Balfour and girlfriend Scottie Thompson head to LA to visitBalfour's old friend, Hollywood player Donald Faison. They wake from anight of partying to find the city under invasion by a massive alienfleet.

The enemy's overpowering and hunts down anyone who steps outside.Balfour and his friends must decide between waiting for a rescue thatmay never come or making a run for Faison's boat and the open sea.

But mostly they timidly peek out the windows of Faison's highriseapartment while displaying all the survival skills of a lemming whoused to do all right through Wellbutrin but it's not really workinganymore and, well, those cliffs are starting to look pretty good.Right. So I have this new theory, partly from recently rewatchingTremors, but mostly from watching this, that the enjoyabilityof a sci-fi/horror movie is directly correlated to the characters'problem-solving ability. The characters in Skyline couldn'tfigure out which end of themselves the food goes in.

For the first 40-odd minutes, it doesn't show any major cracks. Sure,the dialogue's bland, the characters are undistinguished, andThompson's acting is so bad you would almost think that sometimesHollywood casts women just because they're pretty. But then the aliensshow up, and they're kind of cool looking, and there's a littleatmosphere going on, and who knows, maybe this'll be good.

It isn't. I personally guarantee Skyline was pitched as"Cloverfield meets District 9" (guarantee will not behonored). Too bad the Brothers Strause don't have the directing chopsto pull off the immediacy of Cloverfield's half-glimpsed streetbattles and the writing team has no idea what to do with its "Uh oh Imight be turning into an alien"-style body horror. Also no one hasanything resembling a sense of humor.

So instead of fun stuff that makes sense, we get the high drama ofBalfour and Thompson arguing in cliches about their relationship. Andaliens that can't be stopped by bazookas, exploding apartments, ornukes, but which can be beaten to death by the bare fists of a reallypissed off, alien-contaminated Balfour.

Skyline's main problem, though, is its characters have nosemblance of a plan. "We should...get on a boat! Shit, that didn'twork. Let's hide in an apartment some more, while our squabbles aboutwhat we should do next provide almost no drama." You know what? Thealiens are right to kill you all. You didn't even fill up thebathtub with drinking water, Eric Balfour.

Other than the monsters, Skyline does have one big point in itsfavor: an ending so crazy that even crazy-ending-having movies likeKnowing and I Know Who Killed Me are whispering abouthow maybe it's time to call someone. I wish I could talk about itmore, but if you make it that far, you deserve to experience itunspoiled.

Grade: D

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