So imagine it’s Christmas morning. Outside, the freshly fallen snow is glistening on the treetops, and inside, a roaring fire is bathing your living room in a hearty red glow. Underneath the glittering lights of the Christmas tree, lies a big shiny gift box with a beautiful scarlet bow on top. With excitement in your heart, you grab the box and admire the colorful gold and silver wrapping paper. After carefully removing the paper and bow, you slowly remove the lid, your curiosity about to explode. Finally, you peek inside and discover….a turd; A stinky, festering, corn-riddled Yule log. Now that you have that wonderful image in your mind, you have a pretty good idea of what ‘Skyline’ is: a foul-smelling piece of crap wrapped up in a nice shiny box.
‘Skyline’ is a film that promises an epic alien invasion, but delivers a lifeless, unintentionally funny dud which cannibalizes better alien apocalypse films like ‘ID4’, ‘Cloverfield’, and ‘District 9’, and centers around 6 characters trapped by aliens in a high-rise apartment building in L.A. The aliens use a hypnotizing light to draw their victims out into the open, or towards windows, where they are sucked up by powerful vacuums into the mother ships or collected (in a very gross way) by big, four legged creatures or flying, tentacled vagina dentatas.
In a perfect example of shitty screenwriting 101, as long as the characters remain in their darkened penthouse and away from the windows they’re relatively safe. So, naturally, our heroes continuously and idiotically find a way to expose themselves to the aliens by accidentally raising the blinds, peering out of them constantly, venturing outside to try and escape by car, and even going up to the roof! Look, I’m no genius, but if the aliens can only get to you if you’re out in the open or near a window, how about trying the basement, dipshits?
The Strause brothers deliver some truly spectacular special effects in this movie, but they do nothing to detract from the bland stock characters (Earnest, artistic protagonist, damsel in distress girlfriend, the cocky funny guy, bitchy girl, elderly neighbor, etc.) spouting terribly written disaster movie cliché dialogue like, “Something’s happening!”, “We’ve gotta do something!”, “What’s going on, now?”, or “You’re going to get us all killed!”. None of the actors here (Eric Balfour, Donald Faison, Scottie Thompson, or ‘Dexter’s David Zayas) are up to the task of carrying the dramatic weight that this type of storyline requires, in fact, it just comes across as laughable when they try.
The whole thing wraps up with a sequence lifted straight out of a Michael Bay film, complete with sunset, super slow motion, and the camera panning around two characters embracing as things explode and completely go to Hell around them. The real insult, though, is the film’s completely nonsensical “twist” ending which hits with all the impact of a child’s inflatable bop bag.
If there’s one thing you can take away from ‘Skyline’, it’s the fact that the Strause brothers are simply not ready for primetime. They have impressive resumes when it comes to visual effects design and supervision (working on a number of high-profile effects films such as ‘2012’, ‘Avatar’, ‘300’, The ‘X-Men’ films, etc.), but it’s obvious from this film and their previous directing effort, the abysmal ‘Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem’, that they have absolutely zero feel for character development or how to construct a compelling narrative.
The creature effects and the battle sequences are worth watching, but skip the theater on this one and wait for Redbox/Netflix.