It’s not often I am moved to write a film review, but I had a chance to see a lot of films over Christmas what with all the flight time I racked up…
I saw lots of films I enjoyed (principally, it has to be admitted, cartoons as I was sitting next to my toddler and couldn’t watch things with too high a rating).
“Scott Pilgrim vs the World” was sublime, laugh out loud funny and so clever.
“The Social Network” is worth the Oscar nominations.
“Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang” was make-you-cry feelgood at the end.
I want a “Despicable Me” minion.
My reaction to “Avatar” was “meh!” but I expect it is suboptimal on an aeroplane seat-sized screen rather than a giant 3D screen…
But the film I want to review is “Skyline“.
This $10m alien invasion film (i.e. made for peanuts and with no big star – often the sort of film-making I like…) is the one that has affected me most, and mainly because I hated it.
I don’t mean I disliked it, or found it boring. I actually hated it.
This is a bleak, doom-laden and ultimately depressing film. It is impossible to write about it without spoilers, so consider yourselves warned…
We start in an apartment where a group of hungover friends are waking up. One girl gets up and is sick – it is later established that she is pregnant. Everyone is transfixed by a blue light – it’s so pretty, no one can resist looking. But then it starts to suck them in…
And then we’re off into full-on alien invasion mode.
These alien things suck in everyone and come in varying sizes meaning they can get into houses or crush entire apartment blocks.
It has been pointed out in other reviews that the black character dies first – yes, and the character cheats on his girlfriend too as if that somehow makes it ok that he died, in comparison with the hero/ heroine couple who are going to have a baby.
The US airforce sends in a nuclear bomb – boom!
But the aliens are not destroyed and the havesting continues. Our heroes continue, despite radiation poisoning, to try to figure out a way to survive, but ultimately are taken by the alien harvesters.
But that’s not the end.
Ultimately everyone in the world is taken, alive, on board the alien ship, where their heads are ripped off and their still living brains used, Doctor Who Cyberman-style, to power new alien beings.
I’ll leave a mystery over the exact fate of the newly pregnant heroine and the hero, but suffice to say the only way of making a sequel is if the heroine survived nine months of pregnancy in alien hell and the foetus grows up to invent time travel and stop it happening.
And that, if you like, is my problem. To me, there was no proper ending, just unending horror.
Some reviewers have praised this as “realistic”, or “refreshingly free from cheesy Hollywood feelgood”.
To me, it was evidence to me of how important it is to me to know that there after apocalypse there is redemption.
The longing for a happy ending is hard-wired into our society. We want to know that wrongs will be righted, the evil to be punished and the good to be rewarded (even if we disagree on when, how and what exactly we mean by those concepts).
In the Strause brothers’ vision of the apocalypse there is no judgement, no fairness, no ultimate purpose to life.
Humankind has no value other than as fuel, and lives on only as the brainpower of another species. And it is better – as demonstrated by the fat, bossy man (fat? Yep, in filmworld if he’s not funny, he’s going to die), to kill yourself than to be taken. What kind of a world view is it where suicide is the best option?
Ultimately, in that vision of the world, there is no God.
Well, unless it is a vision of what happens during the book of Revelation, before all the 7-horned cows and whore of Babylon stuff.
But I don’t think He’s there in this story. I don’t think he was even an afterthought. This is an apocalypse with a nihilistic world view and a simple message. We all die. Earth loses to the aliens.
To people who think that religion is a crutch for those who need a fluffy bunny version of the world, I suggest you’ve not read Revelations – all those years of dreadful things happening that are mentioned there, and they don’t spell out clearly that believers will be spared from all the horrors.
(Well, pretribulationist Christians think it does, with the rapture lifting them up to meet Christ before it all kicks off, but that’s not the most commonly held position – and an atheist website offering to look after the pets of Christians taken away in the rapture neatly satirises this…).
The world of St John the Divine’s book of Revelation is not a cosy place.
Some have suggested that it has more than a touch of the magic mushroom about it.
Frankly, even if it’s an allegorical description, the sort of world described is all the worst of the world around us until the new heaven and the new earth.
But – and draw a deep breath – given I believe that Jesus is coming back, then I would still rather that the vision there is as it will be than subscribe to the world view that is so neatly encapsulated by “Skyline”.
But it’s not 0 stars for “Skyline”, it’s 1 star, and that’s because it made me think.