‘Skyline’ Producers Floored By Harsh Criticism

Published 3 years ago by , Updated November 20th, 2010 at 11:17 am,

Skyline Negative Reviews 570x320 Skyline Producers Floored By Harsh Criticism

The Strause Brothers are still trying to find their stride as filmmakers, but two major movies with mostly negative reviews puts them face to face with a rotten tomato. While they have yet to respond to the criticisms regarding Skyline, the film’s writer/producer combo Liam O’Donnell and Joshua Cordes spoke out recently on the topic.

It is easy for a filmmaker to ignore the general public, but the two seem genuinely disappointed by the overall reaction to their space invasion film. Who wouldn’t be? Skyline is currently scoring a 4.7 on IMDb, 26 on Metacritic and 15% on Rotten Tomatoes. These low numbers are enhanced by a plethora of harsh reviews.

We didn’t necessarily feel the movie lived up to its potential. Even our 2 out of 5 stars review is generous considering the choice words from others about the film. But when we look back on Skyline in a few years, will it be the goofy, campy alien invasion tribute the producers seem to believe they’ve made?

In an interview with Cinematical, the producers opened up and responded to the general public distaste for Skyline. The overall tone is one of disappointment, but as the two backtrack on the film’s intent, I can’t help but wonder how many times we’ve heard this before – The Last Airbender, The Happening and Tommy Wiseau’s The Room come to mind (bit of a spoiler in the quotes below).

Liam O’Donnell – “It’s like being exposed to any kind of venom: it takes a while to build up your immunity. People tell you not to read the reviews but I tried to read every one… it was extremely painful initially but now I skip over a ‘Skyline. Worst. Movie. Ever.’ tweet without it even registering… We wanted to make a fun, spooky popcorn movie with brain sucking beasts from outer space — and I think we did that.”

Joshua Cordes – “Yeah, I was pretty floored by the response… And it hurt, because I love movies and people who love them, and were getting reactions like we made something that came out of some dark intentions. A soulless cash grab? Shamelessly capitalizing off the latest trends? Homogenized Oscar-bait? None of those were true… We wanted to make a fun, spooky popcorn movie with brain sucking beasts from outer space — and I think we did that.we had set out to make the movie we made, that embraced conventions that every invasion movie before us had adhered to, and then have fun with them.”

The initial promotion of Skyline was tough to read. But if the intention was to create an alien invasion movie like Piranha 3D, it didn’t seem that way until now.

Some of the criticisms Cordes refers to are a bit drastic – especially the “soulless cash grab.” Let’s consider the background of the filmmakers for a moment. They pursued a passion because they had the means and desire to do it.

skyline brothers strause thompson balfour1 Skyline Producers Floored By Harsh Criticism

Greg and Colin Strause on set with Scottie Thompson and Eric Balfour

Credit should always be given to filmmakers who finish a feature film. No matter the consequences or result, making a movie is difficult – in fact it is damn near impossible. Plenty of horrible movies have come before Skyline and plenty of worse ones will come in the future.

While the intense process of producing a feature is arduous, Cordes and O’Donnell actually downplay the amount of work put into Skyline. While I feel sorry for them at times in this interview, the following comments feel like a blame game.

Cordes -”Also, we wrote, shot, and did all the VFX on this film in under a year. The schedule was brutal and unfortunately didn’t allow us to test the film because it wasn’t finished until the last moment. We got backed into a release date and inevitably the film was hurt by it. Another lesson learned the hard way.”

The problem with making a weak film is dealing with the backlash. The two producers still care deeply about this project and their pride shows in the interview. But it is difficult to gauge this kind of a response, because you have to wonder what role they had as producers if they couldn’t control the production’s speed.

Skyline Review Blue Light Skyline Producers Floored By Harsh Criticism

We’ve seen similar expedited productions end in failure. Transformers 2 was pushed through the production process due to a writer’s strike, but that is obviously not the only reason it was a “miss” (well, not at the box office – just in terms of the quality of the film). Surely, the speedy production didn’t help, but Skyline has far more problems than this.

Maybe the MPAA had something to do with it? According to the producers, Skyline was originally designed as an R-rated film, but the final PG-13 rating hurt the film’s initial tone.

O’Donnell – “It really is a dark, apocalyptic R-rated story trapped in a glossy PG-13 body. The original draft was written for an R but it wasn’t really over the top… But then once we got to the MPAA, we had a lot of trouble with the brain ripping shots… It’s a catch 22: if it were hard R, it definitely would have been more embraced by the horror and online critics. But in our exit polling kids under 17, boy and girls liked ‘Skyline’ the best.

Cordes – “Now I wish we’d just said screw it and made a bloodbath. Since we’re getting no street cred for going out and making a movie on our own, maybe the gorehounds could have given some love at that point.”

Of course the Strause brothers went hard R on Aliens vs Predators: Requiem and that didn’t seem to help that film much…

Even though the movie was ill-received, it is still a massive action film that calls for a sequel if possible. Made for only $10 million, Skyline has already made profit. The question that remains is whether or not the filmmakers will respond to the criticism within the sequel or simply follow their own dreams.

O’Donnell – “The sequel treatment is very ambitious and addresses a lot of the issues people have with ‘Skyline’. It’s more character-driven, it’s not set in one location, it’s action-packed. We’re going to have to see how it plays out. International box office has been very strong. Russia alone was around $5.3 million last weekend. I think the film will play great on DVD and cable TV. And because our ending is so crazy even people that don’t like ‘Skyline’ have expressed interest in seeing the sequel. So in one form or another the story will be told.”

At the end of the day, Skyline will prove a financial success. It was marketed well, represented by a pair of major studios (Rogue and Universal) and tackles the latest trend in Hollywood – aliens.

Even amidst the controversy between Skyline and Battle: Los Angeles, they beat the handful of 2011 alien invasion movies to the punch. When audiences are moaning over the number of movies in the genre, Skyline will be sitting pretty on a shiny DVD and Blu-ray.

So here’s the thing… in the grand scheme of things, Skyline is a movie that should not be compared to the likes of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Regardless of the producers’ hindsight comments, the film has some entertainment value, and it is a huge, CGI movie made on a meager budget.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind Skyline mashup 570x381 Skyline Producers Floored By Harsh Criticism

If 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' met 'Skyline'

If you have yet to see Skyline, try and have some fun with it. While I compared it to The Room earlier in this article, Skyline is nowhere near as bad as that movie. Don’t go into the theater looking for the best alien invasion movie of all time either. Next year will have plenty of potential films to take that claim.

If you have already seen Skyline, share your thoughts on the interview. Do you think this is a cop-out for a movie that went horribly wrong. Are their explanations justified and reasonable? More importantly, would you like to see them give it another try with Skyline 2?

Source: Cinematical

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  1. Just saw Skyline on Netflix. Streaming access expires next week. I’m sorry that I saw all the negative comments before I watched the film, because I’m sure that it effected my expectations and enjoyment of the film. At least I didn’t see many major spoilers. Anyway, I enjoyed Skyline, and appreciate what the Strause bros were trying to do. Putting their spin on imagery and themes from ID4, The Matrix, Cloverfield, and yes, even War of the Worlds, was huge fun, and amazing when you realize their budget was so modest. Yes, the first half hour was a waste of time, and the characters were largely unlikable. And the alien tech was a little overblown for my taste. The overwhelming power of the aliens, and the inevitability of their success, could have been established without an almost magical ability to re-attach severed limbs and re-assemble enormous battle cruisers that have been hit by a nuclear warhead. But, the core story was engaging and the CG effects perfectly watchable. Finally, the conclusion is unacceptable only if there will not be a sequel. There were enough clues in the script to allow the viewer to guess that something had happened that the aliens had not anticipated, and that humanity might yet survive. The stage is set for a fabulous sequel, that would be much better than episode one. It would be a shame if it never gets produced.

  2. I just watched a chunk of it, missed the beginning and started at when Faison got sucked up. Watched the rest of it between the basketball game, and Im not a movie industry person or know much about the biz or special effects. I thought it was ok, just kept watching to see how they would start winning vs the aliens. Became clear as the 2 hr mark approached that they were not going to have time to explore whatever happened to the main hero guy’s new power or insight from the aliens. So then it was about well what are they going to do to end this movie?

    Movie had a nice look, limited scope, ok acting, but was kind of boring, as the above suggests. Id agree that if had a limited budget, pretty good special effects and look.

    If these directors were setting it up for a better sequel, then i get it a little. But as a standalone, pretty dull.

    for reference, I think all of the large scale invasion movies pretty much stink. I thought Independence Day was kind of lame, especially the ending, but watchable back then. War of the Worlds was ok, but forgettable.

    District 9 blows all of these and many other even nonscifi movies at a higher level out of the water. The ingenuity, uniqueness, acting, and character development of that movie made it, because really the special effects (non-prawn) were not that extensive. Story, story, story…#1.

  3. Saw end half of it, and was curious to watch the whole film, which I did(a good sign). I thought it was fairly good ‘overall’, and amazed at how quickly and cheaply it was made.
    The acting was definitively better than average, the effects were excellent(holywood level),
    and the film moved at a reasonable pace for a movie of such a short length.
    Would like to see a sequel, but with better variety of credible locations.
    Finally they should leave the pushy mixed-race sex stuff out, it’s not cool, looks contrived, it is distracting in negative way, that detracts from story, and quality of acting(no mater what their individual background is).

  4. Where is Skyline 2? I loved the first one.

  5. This movie could actually be regarded as very good if they took what they had back to the editing room and lost the following nonsense from it.

    Remove all the content where Jarrod develops superpowers due to being exposed to the light. Especially the scene where he beats the alien with a cinder block. The whole ‘multiple exposure’ to the light angle promoting superhuman traits is awful.

    End the movie at the point where we see the desolate cities and then we -the audience- are staring at the swirling light. Job done. Humanity lost for a change and we the audience are the last to go.

    The notion that Jarrod, presumably due to his exposure to the light, can control his eviscerated brain and reboot the host creature because he loves his girlfriend and unborn child more than any other person on earth is quite frankly an insult to the intelligence of every person that watched the ending of the movie.

    So, what we had was the potential for an alien invasion movie where we wait for victory against these brain harvesting aliens and in the end, much like our two main characters, realise that we aren’t winning this time. A very bleak ending that would have sat better than the ending the writers and producers sold us.

    The sequence with the unmanned drones was genius though. I rate that scene as one of the best in any alien invasion movie produced to date. It was a terrific idea and executed on screen very well. So there you have it. A potentially good movie that suffered for the need for the audience to be given some hope that humanity will prevail; even if it defies any level of belief.