November 13, 2010
Review - " Skyline " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Now, it will take every survival instinct they have to elude capture from the thousands of monstrous creatures that are
sweeping the city and searching for all humans in their path. From tankers to drones and hydra-like extraterrestrials, the
aliens are inescapable and seemingly indestructible. In the sci-fi thriller Skyline, the end of the world has come…and it’s just
outside your window.
The movie is a cross between War of the Worlds, Avatar, Transformers and all the dooms day movies, minus the over-the-
top acting, action and romance of Michael Bay and James Cameron. You could say it leans a little towards the rawness of
District 9 but yet retains its Hollywood appeal. There isn’t a super macho hero or buxom actress to stir your loins, just your
regular actors and actresses that perform and look reasonably well plus the amazing visual effects imagery.
Skyline is a riff on the “Cloverfield” experience,
only without the found footage approach and
chained to a smaller budget to keep the money
shots within reason. It’s basically the same
premise: uncharismatic twentysomethings with
insipid soap opera problems are faced with
extraordinarily destructive extraterrestrial visitation,
forced into escape attempts and survival mode
while military forces assemble their pathetic efforts.
Toss in ingredients pilfered from numerous alien
invasion features of similar hysteria, and Skyline
is one derivative motion picture.
Skyline attempts to subvert expectations by
keeping the action contained within the building,
with alien activity monitored through windows or
via telescope. While it cuts down on budgetary needs, it leaves much of the picture in the hands of the cast, and this
is not the most inspiring ensemble to cheer on. Balfour’s a bland hero with no discernable range, while Faison simply looks
confused with the whole endeavor. Female roles are dishearteningly chirpy and nonessential, creating an even greater
divide between the digital highlights and the human lowlights.
The directors seek to amaze with their budget bonanza, staging flaccid action as the aliens chase the humans around the
complex every 15 minutes or so, offering cheap thrills sans excitement. The CG elements are satisfying, but the pursuit is
drab, again requiring these unappealing actors to sell the enormity of the effects. A sense of grand scale just isn’t there, and
for a film like Skyline, reminding the viewer they’re watching a second-rate product isn’t the brightest idea. Independently
produced and helmed by the FX-wizard brothers Colin and Greg Strause, Skyline confirms what D9 first proposed: Sci-fi
spectacles are no longer the sole domain of the megabudget director. With just a modicum of money (reportedly around $10
million), the Strauses used their tech savvy to make a marvel of logistics that looks every bit as slick as a studio tentpole. It's
just a shame they haven't figured out a way to CG a decent story.
The entire movie follows a small group of survivors as they debate leaving the giant penthouse the aliens seem to be fixated
upon. The acting is laughable, the aliens look goofy and reminiscent of Sentinels from The Matrix and an ending so
unbelievably frustrating you’ll start rubbing lamps wishing for your 1 1/2 hours of your life back.
If your sole criteria in grading a film is the special effects, this might be a movie for you. If you like some semblance of plot or
the closure of an ending, you may want to avoid this one. Only the very cool F/X manage to squeak the 1 1/2 stars out of this
reviewer. The rest of the film isn't TOTAL crap ..... but it comes pretty damn close. 1 star for the specials effects 1/2 a star for
the rest. You will have to walk out of this scifi dud. Too bad they didn't throw in some gratuitous nudity and graphic sex. It
could have made sitting through Skyline much less torturous.
Directed by: Greg and Colin Strause
Starring: Eric Balfour, Scottie Thompson, Donald Faison, Brittany
Alien invasion movies don’t need an excessive amount of
encouragement to succeed. Sure, the finest features put in the time
and effort to give audiences a rowdy ride of chills and spills, but as
long as aliens furiously attack and some screamy humans are dutifully
riled up, basic genre requirements are taken care of. “Skyline” seeks
to prove that theory wrong, taking an enthusiastic premise of
intergalactic war and reducing it to glimpses of chintzy CGI-laden
chaos sandwiched between lengthy stretches of tedious, amateurish
In Skyline, strange lights descend on the city of Los Angeles, drawing
people outside like moths to a flame. Once outdoors, a terrifying
extraterrestrial force begins to swallow the entire human population off
the face of the Earth. In a matter of hours, we will all be gone.
Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and Elaine’s (Scottie Thompson) trip to Southern
California was supposed to be a simple weekend away to visit Jarrod’s
best friend, Terry (Donald Faison), and Terry’s girlfriend, Candice
(Brittany Daniel), for his birthday.
But when sunrise arrives two hours early in the form of a haunting light
from an unknown source, life as they know it is finished. As they watch
in terror from Terry’s penthouse windows, people across the city are
drawn outside and swallowed into massive alien ships that have
blotted out the L.A. skyline.