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Aliens are one thing. Brain-eating aliens are something else entirely.
Sure, Southern California opened its arms to E.T., dealt with vampiric, undead invaders in Plan 9 From Outer Space and even survived the War of the Worlds—more than once. Some might wonder whether most residents of Los Angeles would even notice a run-of-the-mill alien invasion anymore. But if E.T. started craving your cranium and began dragging you into his eager, gaping maw of a mouth … well, you might be wishing he would've just phoned home a lot sooner.
Young lovebirds Jarrod and Elaine learn this valuable lesson during a trip to Los Angeles—a trip made, initially, to celebrate their rich friend Terry's birthday. They had a lot on their minds when they came to town. He was dealing with an unexpected job offer. She was dealing with an unexpected pregnancy. So they had all the reason in the world to overlook the strange blue meteors that were thunking down all over town.
But when one of Terry's birthday guests disappears in a blaze of blue light in the middle of the night, well, it's hard not to take notice. Particularly when another houseguest is shrieking her head off about it and Jarrod himself is nearly sucked into the mesmerizing blue vortex.
Jarrod, Terry and Elaine soon realize that it's not just Terry's houseguests who are disappearing: A whole host of L.A.'s residents have been spirited away—a revelation that this Coloradan assumes would make most West Coast types yell, "Hey, Ariana, look! There's a parking spot right by the front door!"
But in the morning, when Jarrod sees alien spacecraft zooming over the streets of L.A. like oversized Hoovers, sucking folks up like spilled Cheerios, even the most hardened opportunist might have difficulty finding an angle to work.
What can the city do to rid itself of these pesky parasites from a galaxy far, far away? Talk with them? Attack them? Mollify them with free passes to Universal Studios?
Alas, the aliens have no interest in taking a backlot tour. They crave human gray matter, and once their spacecraft have slurped up all the loose humans, they come down personally and start knocking on doors.
Man, where are the Reese's Pieces when you need 'em?
Skyline tells us that true love truly is eternal—even if that sense of affection is buried in a brain that's been ingested by aliens. Jarrod will do absolutely anything to protect his lovely Elaine, it seems. Because even after he's incorporated into the alien collective and assumes the size and shape of the Creature From the Black Lagoon—after it's taken steroids and applied skin-cracking formula for about 435 years—he still looks after her.
One resident, upon seeing thousands of folks sucked up into the bowels of an alien ship, says it looks like the "g‑‑d‑‑n rapture!" A security guard, before committing an act of sacrificial suicide, kisses the cross around his neck. A couple of characters make references to prayer.
Elaine is pregnant and tells boyfriend Jarrod after they arrive in L.A. Neither of them seem particularly pleased. Terry, involved with a snippy, oft-bikini-wearing blond named Candice, is playing around with his personal assistant, Denise, on the side. Jarrod and Elaine learn of the affair after Denise, then Terry, stumble out of a side room while putting on their clothes. Candice learns by finding a series of suggestive photos. (We see the two in compromising but not explicit positions.)
Terry has a telescope set up in his living room, and one of the big party games during his birthday bash is spying on his high-rise neighbors. If they're doing something embarrassing, the scene gets beamed to Terry's big-screen TV. They catch a guy apparently masturbating, then see another man pop into view, suggesting that the two are involved in a homosexual tryst.
We see women in bikinis, underwear and towels, and Terry walks around without a shirt. Men ogle and slyly proposition women. A couple kisses while getting sucked into an alien spaceship.
When the aliens come down to "mop things up" in Los Angeles, they could've used a few: Things get pretty messy. While we don't see a lot of blood, that's mainly because the aliens like to swallow folks whole. They wrap victims up in their tentacles and pull them into whatever orifices are available. (The smaller aliens look like they have humongous mouths in their bodies; lumbering, multistory monsters have what appear to be openings in their claw-hand appendages.)
One old man is snagged by alien tentacles, and we hear the creature apparently devour him, slurping and smacking. Another guy is swallowed up, only to be disgorged after the alien gets hit by an SUV. The man is still alive, though covered in tarry goo, and he nearly escapes—but the alien comes alive again, grabs the man's head with a tentacle, and finally slices it clean off in order to get to his gray matter (which it consumes whole).
Brains, apparently, are what make this whole alien civilization function. The visitors are on a brain-harvesting trip, it seems, capturing as many as they can so they can make more visitors with them. Each alien requires at least one foreign brain to operate, and we see a handful of new aliens be "born" when they ingest the precious human cerebellums.
But aliens don't eat the brains of everyone they meet. They smash one character in a car, throw soldiers off buildings and cause a helicopter to crash. Small alien craft have massive air battles with American fighter jets, making for countless additional casualties.
Humanity deals out its own damage, too. As mentioned, these aliens need our brains to survive and, if someone manages to take a brain back, the beasts die. Jarrod and Elaine graphically demonstrate this—once with an ax, once in a bizarre bare-knuckle fight with one of the creatures. One guy eventually kills a massive monster via a gas stove explosion (which kills the man, too), and another extra-towering extraterrestrial is mowed down by a tumbling plane. Soldiers fire round after round into a beast, which seems to at least annoy the thing. And finally, when the U.S. Military has had enough, it fires a nuclear warhead at a mothership—with mixed results. In a sentence, the monstrosity of a ship crashes to earth, but the beasties inside emerge from it merely angry.
One other note: Humans who look at the blue light emanating from alien spacecraft develop a pretty gross skin condition. During exposure, their veins turn black and begin to bulge through the skin. After his exposure, Jarrod finds that he has superhuman powers—powers strong enough to lift a man up by his neck, Darth Vader style.
Crude or Profane Language
One f-word, a dozen s-words and a smattering of other curses such as "a‑‑," "b‑‑ch" and "d‑‑n." God's name is misused at least 15 times (once with "d‑‑n"), and Jesus' name is abused once.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Jarrod and Elaine's visit with Terry begins as a pretty boozy affair, with various characters downing margaritas, champagne and shots. (Elaine, pregnant, never appears to drink any alcohol herself). Before it's over, Terry's party is awash in empty bottles and glasses. Candice smokes, but stops when she learns of Elaine's pregnancy. Another character tries to light a cigarette in a natural gas-filled room.
Other Negative Elements
Elaine throws up in a toilet. Jarrod urinates.
In the midst of the alien assault on Los Angeles, a debate begins over the best course of action. Terry and Jarrod advocate leaving the posh penthouse and working their way toward the harbor, where they can sail away in Terry's yacht. Elaine, however, thinks it'd be safer to just stay put and "pray that someone comes."
"This can't go on forever, right?" she pleads.
Odd, isn't it, that at that exact same moment, I was thinking the exact same thing?
For the characters, the decision turns out to be completely, utterly moot. Every decision is the wrong one. Characters who leave have their Ferraris stomped on by huge alien heels. Characters who stay get blown up or sucked up. Characters who stay and leave and stay and leave again survive for longer … but since these aliens run after brains like tweens run after Justin Bieber, no one truly escapes.
At least, of course, until the sequel comes out. Or the video game—a category of entertainment which typically exhibits a level of artistic quality this film can only aspire to.
So, in this blight of a B-movie, filled with all sorts of problematic content and really pointless behavior, we don't even have a good moral to lean on. Skyline didn't go on forever. It just seemed to.
I, like these hapless characters, had a choice to make. I could either stay and risk having my brain eaten away, or I could leave … and risk having my editor ask for my head.
So I stayed. And stayed. And stayed. And somewhere between the scene in which one man is swallowed, spit out and decapitated, and the scene in which another man beats what looks like literal tar out of a rubber-chicken alien, I began to wonder whether I made the right decision.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Eric Balfour as Jarrod; Scottie Thompson as Elaine; Brittany Daniel as Candice; Crystal Reed as Denise; David Zayas as Oliver; Donald Faison as Terry
November 12, 2010
March 22, 2011