Skyline Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated May 22nd, 2011 at 8:06 pm,

Skyline Review Skyline Review

Screen Rant’s Ben Kendrick reviews Skyline

When it debuted in front of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, the Skyline trailer promised one of the most exciting, and at the same time, unsettling, movie offerings of the Fall season – drawing comparisons to other aliens-on-earth films such as District 9 as well as Independence Day.

Now that Skyline has officially invaded theaters, does it live up to these lofty expectations?

Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Where District 9 relied on terrific performances and weighty subject matter, and Independence Day wowed audiences with epic battles as well as enjoyable (albeit campy) writing , Skyline comes across as a big-screen B-movie with a convoluted plot and too limited of a scope to make the audience feel the worldwide alien-apocalypse that’s supposedly unfolding in the film.

If you’ve missed our previous coverage of Skyline, and haven’t been “taken” by the deluge of blue-lens flares in Rogue Pictures’ ad campaign, here’s the official synopsis of the film:

“In the sci-fi thriller Skyline, strange lights descend on the city of Los Angeles, drawing people outside like moths to a flame where an extraterrestrial force threatens to swallow the entire human population off the face of the Earth.”

While there are a number of large scale set-pieces in Skyline, nearly the entire film is constricted to a single high-rise building. At first it might sound as if the title, Skyline, is a subtle nod to something of substance; though after the one hundred and forty minute runtime, audiences will realize there is nothing subtle about the film and the title is merely a nod to where ninety percent of the action will take place: Away from the troubles of the main characters. Don’t believe me? The characters in Skyline literally view the film’s biggest action set piece through a telescope.

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A scene from 'Skyline'

Headliners Eric Balfour (24) and Donald Faison (Scrubs) aren’t given a lot of options to work with, either. The Brothers Strause (Aliens vs Predator: Requiem), who directed the film, have taken away all contact with the outside world – despite what the trailers indicated (Check out the 1:17 mark on the second Skyline trailer for footage not in the final film). TV Stations are broadcasting HD feeds of nothing but empty chairs, the entire Internet has essentially frozen, and emergency calls to 911 go unanswered. Even the Los Angeles streets are empty, save for super-size monster aliens – as well as flying squid aliens. It’s clear the director pair attempted to work within their means, but in doing so crippled any narrative momentum the story could have harnessed.

Instead, Skyline is nothing more than a series of failed attempts at escaping a luxury high-rise during a global alien invasion. It’s not even made clear whether the alien invasion is global until later in the film, probably because it would have stifled the characters’ game plan – they’re focused on escaping to a nearby marina, assuming that because there are no spaceships over the water, the group will be safe in a boat.

Jarrod (Balfour) and Terry (Faison) as well as the rest of the central group: Elaine (Scottie Thompson), Candice (Brittany Daniel), and Denise (Crystal Reed) could have just as easily been characters in a teen slasher-film – if the teen slasher film took place in a posh luxury apartment building. Each of the characters is a young adult trope with little worthwhile definition: Jarrod and Terry are childhood best friends, Jarrod loves Elaine, and Terry is cheating on Candice with Denise. In fact, the character the film invests the most emotion in, with the musical score soaring as the tension reaches a critical level, is a fighter pilot on a suicide run, a person that is never seen onscreen – save for the flips and spins of his or her bomber.

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Eric Balfour and Scottie Thompson in Skyline

Early lines of dialogue (which attempt to establish the characters) are so on-the-nose that most audience members will figure out the film’s flight plan without exercising much thought. Every moment is predictable – because there’s not a single new trick in Skyline’s playbook. Each dramatic situation follows a familiar story-beat from another sci-fi (or horror) film – especially The Matrix.

The most egregious failure (as a result of the film’s limited scope and convoluted plot) is that by the end of the film, we still know very little about the aliens – which The Brothers Strause probably intend to address in the already in-the-works Skyline 2. However, even amidst the over-the-top production of Independence Day, Roland Emmerich had the sense to provide moviegoers with the Area 51 scene – where, even though it was only a minor glimpse, the filmmakers peeled back the curtain enough for audiences to understand the filmmaker’s take on alien-life.

In Skyline, the Brothers Strause probably thought the events of “Day Three” would give a hearty peek at their aliens – but the final ten minutes of the film are so poorly executed (not to mention based on an inane foundation), it could make audience members wish everyone had just died in the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink absurdity of “Day Two.”

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The movie fails on a number of levels – but that probably won’t prevent action-loving film fans, looking for a brainless romp, from being amused. There are a number of set pieces that offer over-the-top (but thoroughly entertaining) mayhem – similar to Shoot ‘Em Up or the Crank series (though, these films are still significantly better than Skyline). However, even the most dedicated audience members will be laughing at moments the filmmakers couldn’t possibly have intended – making an argument for the potential enjoyment the film can – given the right mindset – offer.

Skyline is still a poor entry in the sci-fi action genre – mainly because it’s missing both the scope and mythology audiences expect from films in this category. While it’s easy to forgive a film for neglecting one of these requirements, Skyline is so far removed from the action (and story) that it’s hard to recommend to anyone but action fans looking to switch off their brains for an hour and a half. Hopefully, if there needs to be a Skyline 2, the Brothers Strause will hand the directorial duties over to whoever put together that first chilling Skyline trailer – which, if you’re undecided about the film, you can check out below:

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If you want to talk about the film without worrying about spoiling it for others, head over to our Skyline Spoilers Discussion.

Follow us on Twitter @benkendrick and @screenrant and let us know what you thought of the film.

Skyline is now open in theaters everywhere.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5

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  1. I agree somewhat… It was better than godzilla but with the idea’s floating around even in genre’s such as anime, it was very dissapointing. Not for lack of special effects, but for like of an epic storyline. Even video game movie’s like resident evil seemed to have much more depth than the end where “well you know..”

    I wanted the Marines or maybe a coalition of US, China, Japan, and Russia to send in some of the secret weapons (emp burst, etc..) that I am sure they are hiding :)

    God Bless!

  2. We mean the first Crysis. Wich have aliens with many sprouting appendages, blue light e giant motherships. Google it and you will see a great example of ripoff.

    And it not about over analyzing, its pointing out what makes this a bad movie and refraining from watching other like this, so that we dont have to loosen up our judgment in order to enjoy a movie that is clearly sucky.

  3. I dont know if the writer of this review realizes this but the ‘bomber’ is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the defining moment in this film is a robot ‘destroying’ an alien ship! The pinnicle of human tech against the supposed pinnicle of alien tech… Epic

  4. A giant trailer for an Skyline 2. I look forward to the real movie.

  5. The sad thing about this movie is it has actors, but no characters.
    - Why is Terry so successful, is he an actor, singer?
    - What job offer does he give to Jarrod that would keep Jarrod in LA?
    - What does Jarrod already do? Where is he and Elaine from? Why does Elaine not want him to take the job? How are jarrod and Terry friends?

    What do we know about these characters? NOTHING!!! Every time someone died, it was nothing. This movie was flat-out boring.

    And the funny thing was this movie had me feeling deja vu without thinking of matrix, independence day or war of the worlds. that is rare

  6. I’M TOTALLY AND UTTERLY IN-LOVE WITH THIS MOVIE!!!! =) you have no idea how obsessed I am, I desperately want a sequel to come out but have a bad feeling there won’t be =( which will be really disappointing, skyline reminded me a lot of like a cross between matrix and the game metroid which I love both!!!! =D played every metroid game that has come out, the effects were great in the movie and the acting wasn’t bad ether, won’t say great, some actors better then others but I love the story line and think it’s quite an entertaining movie, maybe if some people didn’t like the first one so much the sequel may be better if by some miracle they make one =( FINGERS CROSSED!!!! can’t help it just love the movie and have literally watched it easily over 20 times by now =P

  7. well one of the worst films i have ever seen.
    The plot was very bad but the affects made the movie little bit better.
    The movie seems like any other invention movie to u.s.a and everything was very expected.
    The end was very unlikely to be true and unexpected in a bad way..

  8. I have seen bad alien movies…but Skyline was beyond the worst. Not only was there NO character background, but there was hardly any plot build what-so-ever. There was too much randomness happening, and there was no story. When I saw the summary on Netflix it had said “When Terry wakes up he finds that he is the last human on Earth after aliens take over,” I thought it was going to be like the book “Z for Zacharia,” but no, it was far worse, even worse that Battle LA.

    When the mother ship was taken down…one missile..I don’t care if it could rebuild itself it was laughable. The aliens..I looked at my brother and I said “They’re cute!”

    All I can say now was that skyline was a total failure. I’m sorry but it is true.