Oh, how I yearn for the days when science fiction was left to delusional, drug-addicted, paranoid writers. With brotherly directing duo Colin and Greg Strause’s (credited as The Brothers Strause) newest film, Skyline, the sci-fi genre—at least in mainstream terms—appears to have become firmly entrenched in the world of the dude, the bro, the frat boy. Sci-fi—much like horror—is a genre that works best when it’s being subversive. Here, The Brothers Strause—two gents with little frame of reference and even less imagination—have basically made the equivalent of a beer commercial.
The film is your typical alien-invasion yarn. Protagonists Jarrod (Eric Balfour, The Spirit) and Elaine (Scottie Thompson, Star Trek) head to L.A. for a vacation with Jarrod’s disgustingly rich best friend Terry (Donald Faison, Next Day Air). After a night of PG-13 partying, everyone wakes up to the city being besieged by UFOs intent on vacuuming up the local populace. The aliens shoot down big blue lights that hypnotize people so they can be beamed aboard. Various robots and giant monsters show up, too, as the gang tries to figure out a way of escaping L.A.
Here’s how the rest of the movie plays out: There is a lot of bickering and explosions that go on ad nauseam, until the film grinds to the point where it’s no longer even unintentionally funny. The acting is obnoxious and the action is drab. Nothing much is explained in regards to the aliens, besides their apparent need to harvest human brains, though it seems if you have the technology to travel across the universe, you could figure out a better way of acquiring what you need. The movie is a greatest hits of sci-fi movie tropes from the last decade or so (nothing earlier, mind you). Bits and pieces are pulled from Spielberg’s War of the Worlds (2005), District 9 (2009), Signs (2002), The Matrix (1999) and more. And it’s not even the interesting bits and pieces.
The closest thing we get to subtext in this movie is Terry’s character: He lives in a penthouse, owns a yacht and has multiple luxury cars, all due to his career supervising special effects in Hollywood. And wouldn’t you know, The Brothers Strause and the film’s screenwriters, Joshua Cordes and Liam O’Donnell, all got their starts doing visual effects. So the whole movie could be seen as one big attempt at duping the world into thinking these guys are living the high life—a post-adolescent fantasy that makes Skyline even more idiotic. The whole movie reeks of something a gaggle of 14-year-olds might concoct, and were it not for the lack of topless bubble-headed co-eds, I could’ve believed that to be true. Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some language, and brief sexual content.