I want to believe. Mulder had it right. There must be life out in the universe somewhere, right? Are we as humans really such egomaniacs, that we think we’re the only intelligent species in the whole damn galaxy? Now, that doesn’t mean we’ll ever see a bunch of lanky, gray, bobble-headed aliens land on earth, or that we’ll ever fight a colony of space seeds taking over our bodies, but if there’s ever an impending invasion as seen in Fighting the Sky, I’ll be sleeping through it…
…Directed by Conrad Faraj (The Colours of Desire) and written by Faraj, David Matthew Cummings and Roger Jones (Young Harvest), Fighting the Sky begins with strange sounds echoing around the world. Led by Lorraine (Angela Cole), a group of bumbling researchers desperately wanting to prove the existence of aliens sets out to track down the point of origin of the sounds, discovering that the earth is on the brink of an alien invasion.
Fighting the Sky begins on a somewhat strong note, involving the appearance of a large group of people in a zombie like state who, when asked where they came from, all eerily point to the sky. This opening, built for scares, promises a strange, creepy alien invasion film. Unfortunately, that’s not what we get. Instead, what follows is a goofy, kind of charming, mostly underwhelming sci-fi adventure with a touch of horror towards the end.
The cast of characters, outside of a few completely unlikeable assholes such as Lorraine’s ex, Robert (Joe Gotschall), is a group of loveable, somewhat incompetent geeks who you’d probably enjoy getting a cup of coffee and talking The X-Files with sometime. Cole brings a sweet persona to Lorraine, playing her with a soft yet strong touch that instantly has the audience rooting for her. And then there’s our kid heroine, Valerie (Jinette Faraj), one of the last kids on Earth who apparently still does her research at the library instead of on her phone. It’s so beautiful I could cry. Lorraine’s group of alien enthusiasts are all that sort of fun friend with wild theories that never bother you because they’re so entertaining in telling them.
Faraj brings an odd sense of humor to the cast, such as having them pretending to be eccentric filmmakers to get an interview with Bob (Larry Cahill), a man who claims to have been abducted by aliens. Our cast is gullible enough to immediately believe Bob is from the future, despite his obvious insanity, lending a certain charisma to these characters that makes you want to pat them on the head and say, “awe, you’re cute”. These people are so ready to accept aliens as a reality, that they’ll believe anything if it gives them the slightest amount of hope. They’re thrilled at the prospect of discovering alien beings hovering over our planet, to the point that you could say Fighting the Sky is like Twister meets aliens. Our cast wants so badly to prove their theories, that they’re willing to risk their lives in their pursuit of these creatures and showing to the world that they exist. Unlike Twister however, there’s a lot less character drama amongst themselves. Despite their likeability, the characters in Fighting the Sky don’t reveal much about themselves as people, and are all the duller for it. But hey, they make us smile once in a while, so you’ll never not be rooting for them.
The problem is, we don’t really know what we’re rooting for. Outside of one or two brief but exciting encounters with the beings from the sky, our cast spends most of this 100-minute film driving around, gathering little to no actual useful evidence that the creatures exist, and therefore never accomplishing much. Pacing and suspense is a huge issue in Fighting the Sky. Within the first hour, just one person, ONE, meets an unfortunate fate at the hands of the aliens. Everything before that is casual conversations and research. What’s missing here is a ticking clock. Independence Day has one in the form of an actual countdown. Mars Attacks has one in the planned meeting with the aliens. But in Fighting the Sky, things just sort of happen, without any buildup or suspense. The aliens simply aren’t a threat until the last twenty minutes or so, when Fighting the Sky finally stops dragging the audience through the endless void of space and drops us into an alien home invasion film, similar to Signs.
Part of the issue is that we never have any sort of clue as to what these aliens actually want. One minute, they’re abducting people and dropping them into the past. The next, they’re blasting a hole through skyscrapers. Followed by more time jettisoning. And so on. The makeup department deserves recognition for a great though unoriginal creature design, yet with the aliens posing so small of a threat, I found myself appreciating the look more than I did fearing it. Fighting the Sky could’ve really benefitted from less CGI explosions and silly looking abductions, and more claustrophobic horror like we see in the finale, because as it stands now, the term “pulse-pounding” is an alien concept to the film.
There are plenty of elements working to give the audience a good time in Fighting the Sky. The cast is engaging and fun to watch. Composer Tj Wilkins provides an upbeat, sci-fi adventure score that brings a larger scope to the film, allowing us to feel like we’re part of something grander. But with a script that meanders, characters that never seem to be going anywhere, and a “threat” that is unclear and poorly defined, Fighting the Sky doesn’t do enough to keep the audience engrossed. In a genre which is so over-populated with the whole “alien invasion” concept, Fighting the Sky offers nothing new or memorable, all leading to an anti-climactic conclusion that will leave you scratching your head and wondering what the point to all of this was. This is one invasion you’d be better off sleeping through.
Fighting the Sky releases on VOD from on February 5th.
By Matt Konopka