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Dinah’s Rating: 3/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 4.2/10
(2 reviews total)
When a screener said Skyline was a hybrid of Independence Day and War of the Worlds, I held out hope that was a good thing. Those are two fun alien invasion and adventure films with great action, strong actors and intensity. Skyline puts its full weight upon the backs of its varied and stunningly creative alien species and places little strength behind other necessary ingredients.
There is no reason to recount the story or the characters given the writers and directors didn’t seem to care much about them. This movie is all about aliens and spacecraft, not characters. Expendable humans are brought in seemingly to show off some new aspect of the alien design and might. Still, some time is spent attempting to develop intimacy between the audience and a group of friends and apartment dwellers brought together by their desire to stay alive and well amidst an alien invasion.
Terry (Donald Faison) is a playboy in the entertainment business and in a relationship with Candice (Brittany Daniel), a demanding and rude girlfriend. Terry’s best friend Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and his pregnant girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson) travel to Los Angeles for a reunion. They only get to enjoy the high life for one night before bright blue lights strike through the windows and begin snatching friends and neighbors.
Character development is not the Strause brothers’ strength. Similar to their work in Aliens vs Predator: Requiem, the directors spend too much time developing attachments with characters that are flatly written and obviously not going to make it. A large chunk of the opener is spent establishing the boyhood friendship of Terry and Jarrod. Jarrod even draws pictures for Terry and makes him a scrapbook like some love-struck schoolgirl.
The dialogue is redundant, which is typical of a disaster movie but it also delivered by less than stellar actors who can’t make it believable. The best performer on the rolls is David Zayas, who appears as the apartment security guard for a good portion of the film. He delivers his lines with enough intensity and range to receive a pass; Donald Faison also makes a good attempt to maintain some dignity.
Perhaps the producers should have spent a few more dollars on a higher quality cast. Skyline was created for approximately $10-20 million with the vast majority used for special effects. And those effects are certainly worthwhile. The creators depict multiple forms of the alien from small flying tentacle aliens to large bi-pedal monsters with claws and webs. There is also a gorilla-like version with brilliant blue eyes. The things are practically indestructible, regenerating like the Terminator in a few minutes.
Unlike Cloverfield, these intelligent life forms are seen in all their glory with both close-ups and far shots throughout the duration. There is no shaky camera or documentary style gimmicks utilized to obstruct the menaces or create intrigue. But this film is marketed a tad differently than it is presented in final form. Most will overlook this, but others will wonder about the missing footage and back story.
A good alien invasion film is hard to find. They pretty much have the same formula and outcome so the main differentiators include the appearance of the aliens, the intensity of action sequences, and characters you care to root for. The Strause brothers put incredible effort into the looks and backgrounds of their villains and for that they will receive due credit. However they failed to make a memorable or even good disaster film due to poorly written dialogue, delivery, and redundancy of the setting.
Directed by Colin Strause and Greg Strause
Written by Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan
Starring: Eric Balfour, Donald Faison, Brittany Daniel, David Zayas
Other Player Affinity Reviews
Simon thought: “Though the Strause brothers seem to have a handle on the fact that a film needs character focus to become memorable, they also seem unable to differentiate between simply showing said characters and character development. But hell, who goes to a movie like Skyline to see that? For what it is, a goofy, campy alien invasion flick, Skyline delivers most of the goods even as it sinks into laughable tedium in the final third. The special effects on the other hand are fully fleshed out and considering the budget this is a masterful achievement on all accounts. When weighing the harsh reaction from critics and most of the viewing public, thankfully, it seems as if audiences do still care about things other than FX shots, so perhaps there is still hope. Though not to add to the already heaped, steaming pile of crap this film has accumulated, Skyline at least shows initiative if not polished results.” Rating: 5.5/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 4.2/10