Directed by Greg and Colin Strause (The Brothers Strause)
November 11, 2010 (Australia) / November 12, 2010 (United States)
After strange lights descend from the sky, a group of individuals must survive an alien invasion and their own growing tensions.
For me this is a very enjoyable alien invasion movie. Do not get me wrong. This is not great cinema. Skyline is cheesy fun, but it is cheesy fun done right. We have cool effects with great alien designs. And we have space monsters that rip out human brains in order to use them to control their techno organic technology.
Knowing what I know now but did not then I am surprised how enjoyable this movie was. What am I talking about? The Brothers Strause were the minds behind Alien vs Predator: Requiem which as a story and just visually is mostly unwatchable. It was a narrative mess and so hard to see anything that you could not tell if you were looking at an Alien or a Predator or a random human being. I think they left the lens cap on. How anyone gave them the money for another movie after that is beyond me yet here we are. Fortunately they did not fumble the ball on this one.
Skyline is certainly not an Oscar worthy film nor is it anything particularly original. The movie Moontrap for example used aliens harvesting bits and pieces from us fleshy humans before this movie did. And alien invasion films have been around for almost as long as there have been movies. And the super destructive variety have been around since at least the time of ID4.
The method the unnamed aliens generally use to catch humans is rather creepy and borders on supernatural if not just very science-fiction like. They use a weird light that has a psychological and apparently physical effect on humans and then they suck the people up into a big ship or capture them via tentacles. I mentioned brains earlier. There are points when with a crunch and a shake the alien machines extract a glowing brain (yes, they glow) and switch it out with a dark brain. Ewww!
Though set against the backdrop of an alien invasion whose purpose is a little fuzzy at best (I am not sure aliens would travel lightyears to brain harvest), this is a little more of a disaster film in structure with the way it handles the characters. Jarrod’s (Eric Balfour) celebrity friend Terry (Donald Faison) is cheating on his wife Candice (Brittany Daniel) with his assistant Denise (Crystal Reed). Terry offers Jarrod a job, but this causes friction with his girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson) who does not wish to uproot and drops the bombshell that she is pregnant. That feels very disaster movie there. They are soap operas with convoluted relationship subplots and this is just that.
I do take issue with the finale. I thought our central couple, Jarrod and Elaine, just gave up a little too easily. Admittedly it was getting harder and harder to survive on that roof. It is that their relationship as portrayed just did not feel so deep and strong in this film that she would risk death to stay with her man. I felt they loved each other but it was not that strong.
A big part of any science fiction film are the special effects. Whatever you are trying to do has to look good and look believable and it works here. This movie is 10 years old at this point, but the aliens still look very good as does the destruction.
This film was not without some controversy. The Brothers Strause owned Hydraulx Filmz which was contracted by Sony to do effects for Battle: Los Angeles. Sony was unaware of their work on this film initially. Eventually Sony dismissed their arbitration feeling none of their effects were used in this film.
Skyline is an entertaining alien invasion film. It has got good special effects and plenty of destruction. I will admit this is has more for the general science-fiction fan and the monster movie fan than it does the general film fan, so I will give this an if you want.