Skyline's marketing team has been blessed with attention grabbing scenes to pull for their trailers. With the huge alien ships flying over Los Angeles, the vivid blue lights over the metropolis, and most arresting, the images of millions of people sucked into the air like sand in a vacuum, Skyline has been very well marketed for a film made on a $10 million budget. Unfortunately, these special effects are where Skyline's originality ends, as the resulting film makes little sense and ends in a bizarre, nonsensical conclusion.
Skyline is a perfect example of a B-movie with an over-staffed special effects team. Seriously, it's nothing more than an opportunity for special effects to go overboard creating the gooey black aliens, blue-tipped tentacles and glowing human brains. It makes sense that so much focus would be on the visuals, as the directors, The Brothers Strause, are a duo known for digital effects work in such movies as Avatar, Iron Man 2, and virtually every blockbuster film of the last 10 years. While I applaud the guys for trying to make it as directors, maybe they should stay behind the computer screen instead of the camera next time.
The premise behind Skyline actually holds some promise. Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and Elaine (Scottie Thompson), two East coast 20-somethings are fresh off the plane to LA. They're there to visit Jarrod's friend Terry (Donald Faison of Scrubs fame) who has become filthy rich and famous in the entertainment industry. Raunchy parties are had, then aliens start abducting people by the thousands, silly plans of escape are made, but everything goes to hell. It's the same alien-disaster flick you've seen before, but the focus on normal people not weighed down by familiar tropes like “the Family Man,” “the Honorable Soldier” or “the Young Person Now Driven to Save the Day” initially feels like an interesting approach to this story. Too bad Skyline fails to perform on this promise.
Problems arise with basic pacing and writing issues, as well as certain plot elements the don't make sense. For example, Elaine is pregnant, and it's not addressed in an interesting way. She pukes a couple of times, goes into hysterics occasionally and makes a couple scenes awkward, but the whole pregnancy thing is used to make the campy film “dramatic.” Looking into the light, which causes people to be sucked away, can apparently grant super powers if looked at long enough. This is hinted at with Jarrod, but is seen in nobody else and only manifests in one minor scene, never to me mentioned again. In addition, apparently Terry the rich guy is in the special effects industry, not the rapper or actor one would suspect him to be. I don't want to be rude here, but I can't think of a single special effects man who has mostly-naked women and an obscene amount of cash. Seems to me the directors might be over-compensating for their original chosen profession.
Acting is generally wooden, with the actors delivering their lines as if cue cards were in front of them. There are big dramatic slow-mo action shots, intense yelling to they sky, a couple “power of love standing against evil” moments, a stereotypical gruff Latino who sacrifices himself to defeat an alien while saying something bad-ass, a primary protagonist who dies early on, and finally a weird continuity where the time of day changes from day to night erratically. It's odd, to say the least.
Through this all we soldier as our cast of characters run up and down their boring apartment building in Los Angeles. Skyline never leaves the confines of this one building except for the last 15 minutes of the movie. These final moments are so mind-boggling odd that it doesn't do justice to describe. Let's just say that some people are going to love the utterly random jumps The Brothers Strause take, and most everyone else will leave shaking their heads at what they have just seen.
Ultimately, Skyline is a SyFy network Saturday afternoon movie trying to pass itself off as a worthwhile film. Too bad it is forgetfully silly, and while there is a certain B-movie charm that will attract a specific crowd, most audience members would be better off ignoring the film. It's a glorified reel of special effects, and very little more.