I remember lining up all day in Tampa to see the Phantom Menace on opening day. The conditions at the theater were terrible: Broken AC, blurry lens, and a terrible crowd. I ended up leaving the theater feeling a bit drained, like someone had siphoned the “force” right out of me. The movie wasn’t what I was expecting, but there was one thing I loved about the phantom menace and that was Liam Neeson’s portrayal of Qui-Gon Jin.
The Sky is Falling – In recent years Alien Invasion has become incredibly popular. Aliens are, as Scott would say, “The new hotness”. Everywhere you look someone is getting killed/probed and/or abducted by an Alien. Where is Will Smith when you need him? Falling Skies does not reinvent the genre of Alien invasion, but humanizes the story and makes it feel a bit more real. Falling Skies is more of a post apocalyptic survival tale akin to Max Max than it is Independence Day. Elements such as starvation, ammo conservation, and clean water are just as big of a threat to the survivors as the Aliens themselves.
The Story – Earth has already fallen and the story picks up roughly six months after the invasion began. From what we can tell, the aliens hovered around our major cities and eventually released a massive EMP (Electromagnetic, Pulse). With all of our global electronics fried, we instantly became cave men. The bulk of the world’s military got their asses kicked and civilians didn’t fare much better. The story follows the Mason family as they struggle to survive and locate lost family members. Patriarch Tom Mason (played by E.R’s Noah Wyle) is an ex-history professor who is now second in command of the 2nd Massachusetts. That’s right; the civilians have banded together to create a new Revolutionary army and are hoping that by waging a Guerilla War that they can eventually make the Aliens go home (see: Vietnam). Guerilla War isn’t pretty; C4 shopping carts, .50 cal Machineguns bolted to a Pontiac GTO, and sawed off shotguns; we’ve effectively become the creeps from the Road Warrior.
The Aliens: Kids on Leashes – Two alien types are revealed in the pilot, Skitters and Walkers. The CG and puppetry used for the aliens is top notch, and almost cinema quality. Skitters are the fast moving, hard to kill, spider-like creatures that appear to kill you by biting you… oh yeah, they also wear vests. Walkers are bipedal mechs that are heavily armed and armored. Much like the predator they have a three-beam tracking laser that turns you to “goo”. Mechs, as you can imagine are incredibly difficult to kill and terrify the survivors. I should also add that the aliens are doing something terrible to Earths children! (not the children!) Children have been found wearing a bio-organic “leash” which controls their minds. The leash is also grafted to their spine and is currently impossible to remove. I think I know a few people that are leashed…
Can you Survive? – Falling Skies is a great show that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy as much as I did. Each character is given ample screen time allowing the viewer to establish actual feelings for them. This makes the difficult situations they’re thrust into have much more dramatic weight and tension. I’ll be tuning into Falling Skies all season and you should too! As a matter of fact you should sprint to your DVR and order yourself a up a season pass. Falling Skies is produced by Stephen Spielberg and airs Sunday nights at 10pm on TNT.