Another Friday, another genre film being dumped into theatres with no critic screenings. Sure, occasionally there’s a B-movie diamond-in-the-rough like Piranha 3D, but more often viewers end up with the likes of Vampires Suck or My Soul to Take. Despite the impressive visuals, The Strause brothers’ Skyline also comes up way short.
Did anyone noticed there is little dialogue or story revealed in the trailers? Well, there’s a really good reason for that. The plot is slim and the screenplay isn’t particularly well thought out. When struggling artist Jerrod (Eric Balfour) and his girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson) arrive in LA to visit old friend and rapping sensation Terry (Donald Faison), the celebration quickly turns sour. First, Terry offers Jerrod a job, which would be good news, except for Jerrod’s reluctance to accept. More trouble arises when Elaine, furious at Jerrod for even considering the position, reveals that she is pregnant, which amounts to some very awkwardly delivered drama. Thankfully, interrupting these personal matters is, of course, the alien invasion.
Neon blue lights crash to the streets and shimmer through windows, hypnotizing many and making their blood vessels turn as black as oil. Hundreds of victims are sucked into a large mother ship. The sketchy extraterrestrial plan (as far as can be determined) involves harvesting human brains to insert into newly created, fleshy biped giants and flying, tentacle spewing monsters, which are then used to abduct more humans. Much is made of the alien’s possible aversion to the ocean, yet that thread is completely dropped later on.
None of the protagonists have an individual voice, there is little chemistry between the performers and the dialogue is flat and interchangeable. Actors get in each other’s grills with the utmost seriousness, forced to shout bizarre comments such as, “Like it or not, this is happening!” There’s nothing anyone can do while being chased across a rooftop but attempt to make awkward declarations like “Scaffolding!” come across convincingly.
On a technical level, the alien-free footage looks ugly and distracting. Underexposed, there is so much grain and speckling early on that it’s hard to believe this effort was shot using the digital Red Camera system.
Co-directors Colin and Greg Strause (also responsible for the unintentionally hilarious Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem) come from a visual effects background and are best at facilitating those moments. There’s a great shot featuring actor David Zayas being pulled across the floor by tentacles towards a creature outside the window. Additionally, viewers are treated to an impressive battle in the sky between fighter jets and alien spacecraft, but even that scene’s impact is muted by the fact that it’s being watched from afar. It’s simply a cinematic fireworks display.
One can certainly appreciate the digital effects achieved on a limited budget and acknowledge the effort these filmmakers have put into bringing their unique vision to the screen. Regardless, Skyline is only memorable for its truly bizarre and ridiculous final act. Whether that’s worth a “bad movie night” viewing is up to the particular individual.
1.5 out of 5