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Skyline (A Movie Review)

Updated: Feb 18

SKYLINE (2010)

Starring Eric Balfour, Scottie Thompson, Brittany Daniel, Donald Faison, David Zayas, Crystal Reed, Neil Hopkins. Robin Gammell, Tanya Newbould, J. Paul Boehmer, Phet Mahathongdy O'Donnell, Byron McIntyre, Jackie Marin, Tony Black and Eliza Till.

Screenplay by Joshua Cordes and Liam O'Donnell.

Directed by The Brothers Strause.

Distributed by Rogue Pictures. 94 minutes. Rated PG-13.

It’s never a really good thing when the Earth is under attack by marauding alien forces and you can’t really muster up all that much sympathy for the victims. However, this is the atmosphere where Skyline forces us to reside during its hour and a half of wholesale destruction and carnage.

The problem is – and it’s not a small problem – most of the humans shown in Skyline are either complete ciphers or unlikable jerks. It doesn’t help that in a film where the entirety of Los Angeles is wiped out (and in later scenes it is revealed that New York, London and many other world centers were also destroyed by the space invaders), we really only get to know about nine or ten people, all of them stuck in a single building.

The characters are so uninteresting, in fact, that the filmmakers can’t even be bothered to acknowledge the apparent death of one of the female characters. One minute she is driving in a car with a man and then the car is attacked. We watch him get killed but never know for sure what happened to her. She is never seen or referred to again. We have to assume she was killed in the attack, too, but it seems like lazy storytelling that the fact was never explained or even mentioned, almost like they forgot she was ever there.

Also, for an alien attack designed to bring the Earth to its knees, these killer ETs spend a whole lot of time and manpower (alien power?) on just this small group. You’d have to assume that there were lots of small colonies of survivors around, yet the space monsters seemed to be obsessed with hovering around this Los Angeles apartment building waiting around for stragglers.

Then again, much of the big world domination plan does not seem to make a whole heck of a lot of sense. The aliens do not appear to have any particular motivation for their attack on the Earth – other than vacuuming up thousands of people, ripping their heads off and then throwing their bodies away.

The aliens also seem to be nearly impossible to destroy, yet a giant mothership can be exploded clear out of the sky with a single Air Force missile.

In the meantime, a whole passel of TV actors attempt to save the world – or at least that apartment complex – including Eric Balfour (Six Feet Under), Scottie Thompson (Trauma), Donald Faison (Scrubs) and David Zayas (Dexter).

Skyline is the second feature directed by special effects artists who call themselves The Brothers Strause – their name is Strause, and they are brothers, go figure. Their previous directing gig had been the barely seen sequel Alien vs. Predator: Requiem.

On the plus side, the effects here really are rather stunning, particularly for such a low-budget film (about $10 million).

However, I wish they had added a bit more to the budget and actually hired a professional screenwriter – the first-time scripters here are both part of the film’s production crew. Not only would the dialogue be less painful, and the characters be less one-dimensional, but the eyes of a storyteller may have saved Skyline from all its logical inconsistencies and plot holes.

It’s supposed to be science fiction, but that doesn’t mean that we’ll buy just anything they throw at us.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2011 All rights reserved. Posted: March 20, 2011.


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