As forewarned, it is now over a week since my last entry and while I am not exactly experiencing withdrawal symptoms, I thought I had better touch base before my marathon London Film Festival viewing commences tomorrow. Since you ask, St. Petersburg provided a great if exhausting weekend. It was one of the very few cities remaining on my wish-list of destinations; I am happy to have finally been able to visit The Hermitage -- overwhelming in scope and size, even if the art collection itself was a little disappointingly underwhelming. As predicted I saw no movies during my stay, but did satisfy another passion: In a city where even a simple snack is wildly expensive, DVDs (and I am not talking about pirate copies of recent releases which are apparently a thriving industry there) are ridiculously cheap -- well under £4 each. Moreover, I was able to find copies of "Volga Volga". "Happy Guys", and Kin-Dza-Dza (all recently reviewed on this blog). So Pretty Pink is a happy bunny indeed.
The above load of rubbish is only one of two movies that I have seen since my return and I've already forgotten the title of the other dreary mess -- something about a deaf girl beloved by a young musician who is dying of cancer. (How do I sit through these?). "Skyline" on the other hand was not a disease-of-the-week flick but purportedly a mainstream cinema release from 'The Brothers Strause' (Colin and Greg) whose only previous feature was "Aliens vs. Predator -- Requiem" (2007), which may give you some idea of the level of their idea of entertainment. Both brothers have a long string of special effects credits from "The X-Files" forward and it is clear that whatever budget they had here went totally into the F/X in this alien invasion saga.
The money certainly didn't go into the non-existant script or acting talent. You can tell that a movie is scraping the bottom of the barrel cast-wise when the leads' main claims to fame are television series of varying degrees of popularity. Now I watch very, very little regular television, although I do get hooked by the occasional series, but I recognised the leading man (and I use the term very loosely), Eric Balfour as the druggy boyfriend from "Six Feet Under" many moons ago and the other semi-major male role as David Zayas, the Cuban detective from "Dexter". The three female leads Scottie Thompson, Brittany Daniel, and Crystal Reed obviously scraped beneath my TV radar as did the third male lead Donald Faison.
And they, Folks, were the core of the action, a pretty uninteresting little group of friends, plus Zayas as the building's 'security' serving as some sort of microcosm of what was presumably meant to be happening throughout the city, country, or world. The aliens have invaded without warning and we have little idea what they are after -- although sucking out brains seems to be part of the exercise; it is nigh impossible to avoid being drawn by their hypnotising little blue lights, as increasingly sizey aliens search the environment for more people to absorb. At one point 'the army' or something send in a fleet of planes which are swiped down like so many annoying little gnats. The message gets across: humanity is doomed, although we have not the slightest idea why. There is some totally unintelligible action at the end which may or may not suggest that Balfour and his pregnant sweetie Thompson may actually survive, setting up the possibility (God help us) of a sequel.
To give credit where credit is due, the special effects were generally pretty superior and I particularly liked Faison getting smashed with a heavy metal thump when he tries to escape in an open-topped car. Obviously, given the brothers' technical expertise, they spent their budget in a way to give us a showy spectacle. However we could have done with a more clear-cut storyline, some vague indication of hope for humanity, and some characters that we might actually care about.