Skyline (2010) … A Decent Invasion Flick

Sometimes I really hate being labeled a “movie reviewer” and being lumped in with other douche-tards who write reviews.  My loyal followers pretty much know my “style” of reviewing.  I’m brutally honest, I don’t pull any punches, and I examine those aspects of movies that the “every day” person cares about.  On occasion I’ll talk about the cinematography or the more technical aspects of a film, but for the most part I look at the acting, the plot, the special f/x, and the overall enjoyment of a film.  That’s why I started getting so pissed off reading reviews out there of the new alien invasion flick SKYLINE.  Let me tell you something:  Ignore the negative reviews on SKYLINE from the so-called “respectable” horror websites out there (you know; the ones who make a ton of cash through advertising).  With all it’s flaws (and there are a few) SKYLINE is a really fun and kick ass alien invasion flick!!

SKYLINE is directed by the Strause Brothers (Colin and Greg), the two responsible for the dreadful ALIEN VS. PREDATOR: REQUIEM train wreck.  But to be fair, the brothers were railroaded by the studio in REQUIEM who essentially came in and made a lot of last minute script changes.  The brothers, as a result, had a bad taste in their mouth with big studios and decided at that moment that their next feature was gonna go back to the basics.  Well SKYLINE is that project and they certainly stayed true to their promise.  With an estimated budget of ten million dollars (yeah I know that sounds like a lot, but compared to the big studio releases 10 mil is a drop in the bucket), a shooting crew of 20 (TWENTY) people, and a single shooting location, Colin and Greg pull off one helluva fun flick that manages to give us some bad ass looking aliens, great action sequences, and some absolutely amazing visual f/x.  But best of all it even manages to add a kind of unique element to the genre.

You definitely DON’T wanna look into the light in this flick!!

The action in SKYLINE starts off at 200 miles per hour with the glowing blue lights (you know the ones … from the trailers) descending all over Los Angeles.  After our main character Jarrod (Eric Balfour) almost succumbs to the light we then skip back 15 hours earlier and get some back stories on our group of main characters.  Jarrod and Elaine (Scottie Thompson) are flying in to L.A. for Jarrod’s long time buddy Terry’s (Donald Faison) birthday.  I liked all the characters the Strause brothers introduce and enjoyed the fact that they are all very human in their backstories.  Jarrod and Elaine love each other but they also have their problems; Terry and his wife Candice (Brittany Daniel) also have a very realistic relationship (especially for L.A. I would imagine).  The other people at Terry’s birthday party are Denise (Crystal Reed), Terry’s personal assistant; Ray (Neil Hopkins), another of Terry’s Hollywood buddies; and Oliver (David Zayas), the manager of the upscale apartment complex where Terry lives.  All the characters stay consistent through their actions as the movie progresses and the acting was strong from everyone involved.

How’d ya like to be hung over & wake up to this outside your window??

After their heavy night of partying the group is woken up by the bright blue lights.  When Jarrod and Terry decide to go to the roof to see what the hell is happening, they find there are blue lights all over the city sucking up humans by the thousands like gigantic vacuum cleaners.  The culprits are huge spaceships.  At this point SKYLINE is in full gear and doesn’t let up until the end.  The characters involved give the right balance of sheer panic and the desire to survive as they first barricade themselves in Terry’s huge apartment while they try and decide the best course of action.  The group’s indecision is valid here because we don’t know anything more about the invading aliens than the group does.  This isn’t like INDEPENDENCE DAY where we get the perspectives of the military and even have the aliens explaining to us why they are invading (gay).  The viewer is in the dark as much as the characters.

Characters definitely get bloody here!!

One part I did find that dragged on a bit was watching the group trying to decide what to do.  This scene took a little too long, especially since we all knew they were gonna leave the apartment (how else was the story gonna progress?).  But once they finally decided to get out of the city, no matter what they did or where they went (to the streets, the roof top, the stairwell), the alien menace was waiting for them everywhere.  I liked this; this gave a sense of hopelessness and futility to their actions and it also had me thinking about what I’d do if I was in their shoes.

So what about the aliens?  I thought the aliens looked fantastic.  Yes the one type of alien that was flying around searching the various buildings did look a lot like the alien in THE MATRIX flicks, but it was still a bad ass looking design.  And the bigger aliens are almost beyond description.  They seem to be using human beings to synthesize brains that the aliens put inside themselves and use almost like batteries.  But trust me, this description doesn’t do the end scene inside the spaceship justice … ya gotta see it to believe it.  And the overall visual f/x are really mouth dropping, but this shouldn’t come as any surprise being that the brothers worked on such film like TITANIC, THE X FILES, TERMINATOR 3, X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, AVATAR, and IRONMAN 2.

This really only had a 10mil dollar budget??

More than anything, the ending will divide audiences.  The brothers take the film in a very strange direction.  One of the characters who got “infected” by the blue lights in the beginning, experiences some kind of change.  The blue light somehow alters their body and mind.  I don’t wanna give away too much here, but if you realize that the brothers got the green light to go ahead with SKYLINE 2 even before SKYLINE 1 came out, then the ending makes a little more sense.  Yes it leaves us with a bit of a cliff hanger but overall I was satisfied with the ending.

Man he really doesn’t wanna look over his shoulder!!

Do yourself a favor and don’t listen to the critics out there dissecting and tearing apart this film.  SKYLINE is more fun than INDEPENDENCE DAY and will have you alreay eagerly waiting for SKYLINE 2.  The Strause Brothers have really developed a great new alien race that I’ll be looking forward to learning more about in the (hopefully near) future.  Check out this hugely entertaining film.

My Summary:

Directors:  Colin and Greg Strause (also producers and visual f/x supervisors)

Plot:  3.5 out of 5 stars

Gore:  2 out of 10 skulls (although there’s a lot of alien violence)

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

Stay Bloody!!!

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14 Responses to Skyline (2010) … A Decent Invasion Flick

  1. Deggsy says:

    *Finally* got a chance to watch Skyline. I liked it, my girlfriend didn’t. She didn’t like the shallow depictions of the characters, or the level of acting (she did like the guy from Dexter, who played the building manager, but thought his appearance was too short. But voerall, like the douches in Cloverfield, she couldn’t care if they lived or died.
    Me, I was more forgiving, though I thought the script needed some humour. And I was more forgiving with the ending, though obviously it wouyld be cool to watch it back to back with the sequel when that comes out…

  2. soumen says:

    hi…i want to see this picture. Please tell me the relesing date for india.. Thanks…. Soumen

  3. Buzz says:

    I just got back from watching this and I gotta say I’m right there with you mate, this film was freakin’ awesome. Great characters, great pacing, great storyline, great everything. I have to disagree with you on the ending though mate, it was a bit too contrived and cheesy for me. I personally would have been happy if it ended with them getting absorbed into that ships weird light. The world’s helled, your screwed, deal with it yo! This happy ending / glimmer of hope is not something that needs to be in every film and I think it would have worked better if it wasn’t in this one… maybe I’m just a sadist though, so who knows? Still this film’s awesomeness did had Sgt. Batista blowing the shit out of Aliens, BOOM! Good times 🙂

    • Glad you liked it Buzz!! Yeah the ending is definitely contrived but it worked for me. We already had a film that was an alien invasion flick and a giant creature flick. Why not through in a superhero-ish angle at the end. And I’m sure the ending was left like that for the 2nd film. I liked it and it worked for me.

      But if the film DID end with them being sucked up into the ship, I would have loved that. A nice cynical, nihilistic ending always makes me smile!!

  4. Steve says:

    Wow, I had no idea about the budget – that’s amazing. I don’t think $10 million would be the special effects budgets of most bigger studio films. I’m glad you liked it Scott, and glad you judged it based on how the movie seems to be presenting itself – as a fun, action filmed popcorn movie. Looking forward to checking it out!

    • Its a really fun one Steve!! In an interview the brothers talked about how they filmed it … I need to find that link; it’s an interview you’d really be interested in. They used no film at all and filmed it directly onto hard drives. One of the brothers explained that when they were shooting ALIEN VS. PREDATOR: REQUIEM they wasted so much time & money just reloading the cameras. They figured out that on most big Hollywood budgeted filming schedules, 2 entire days (in total) are wasted on just reloading the cameras, and this comes out to about $350,000!!! That’s $350,000 that never the audience never gets to see up on the big screen.

      I really like the Strause brothers and their approach to filmmaking!!

  5. Maggie says:

    I went to see this movie on Friday night and I have to say I agree completely with this review! Only problem is… now I have to go watch it again because the theater I saw it in lost power due to a storm that night. The scene that was playing when the power died was when Jarrod and Elaine were being drawn into the ship. I was under the impression that was the end of the movie but, after reading your review, now I know I missed something important and have to go back and see it again. It’s all good though… this movie was awesome enough to watch again even if I had been able to see it all the way through to the end!

    • I thought the film was gonna end after Jarrod and Elaine were sucked up into the ship … and I’d still have been totally satisfied with the ending. But a whole lot happens inside that ship!! Really cool ending that is a bit cryptic but makes sense if you paid attention during the film.

      I can’t believe the theater you saw it in didn’t give you any free vouchers to see the film over again after the power went out!!

  6. Deggsy says:

    Hmmm, very interesting, Scott. When I first read about Skyline, and its miniscule budget, I wondered if it was another one of those Asylum mockbuster-type ripoffs of Independence Day (the ads for it over in the UK certainly made it seem that way). All it was missing was the porn-style variation on a mainstream title.
    Some may be dissuaded from seeing it because of its low-budget, independent pedigree, which is a shame, because these movies are often the most interesting, in spite of or even because of their flaws, like a local diner making something different from what you’d get in the big restaurant chains. And if the big studios were really interested in profit, rather than fork out £237 million for a visually stunning but cliched empty box like Avatar, they could make say 15-20 good movies relying on decent scripts and acting and some original ideas.
    Yeah, and Drew Barrymore will be coming round to serve me breakfast in bed…

    • Well put Deggsy. I actually enjoyed SKYLINE more than INDEPENDENCE DAY. The Strause Brothers have really hit up on a new way of making films that’s keeping the price (relatively) cheaper than the usual hollow Hollywood fare like AVATAR (AVATAR helling sucks).

      I hope people go out there and support this one; its worth it!! Oh yeah; after Drew serves you breakfast, send he over to my place!!

  7. Connie says:

    Great review! Thank you for seeing this movie for what it is, not for what it isn’t. My son and I loved it and can’t wait for it to come out on Blu-Ray!

    • My pleasure Connie!! It really drives me crazy when reviewers start dissecting a part a film that is obviously made to be a “popcorn” movie. The audience I saw SKYLINE with and I had a helling blast watching this film. Yes some of the characters were a little wooden and hollow, but the point of the movie was to have some bad ass helling aliens taking over the world. Mission accomplished. I loved it!!