Starring : Eric Balfour, Scottie Thompson, Brittany Daniel, David Zayas, Donal Faison, Crystal Reed, Robin Gammell, J. Paul Boehmer, Tanya Newbould, Tony Black, Pam Levin, Neil Hopkins, and Phat Mahathongdy.
Directed by : Brothers Strause.
Released : November 12th, 2010.
Skyline is the second film in a row that I’ve seen where material from the previews is missing from the final film. I’m not just referring to quick FX shots or bits of dialogue, I’m talking about something pertaining to the story itself. Paranormal Activity 2 was the first one to do this recently and now Skyline did it. See, back when they first started advertising this movie, the trailers were mentioning something about NASA sending a probe or something out into space to look for intelligent life back in August 2009, then there was some news report which argued that if aliens were to ever come in contact with us, then the results would be akin to Christopher Columbus discovering the Native Americans. But none of this is in the actual movie.
Skyline is the latest film from the Strause Brothers who were most recently responsible for the turd that is Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007). Skyline seemed like a fairly cool and interesting concept, judging by the previews. A bunch of aliens arrive in vacuum-sucking spaceships to snatch away humanity by the planet-load. The second thing Skyline has going for it is that the movie isn’t dark in terms of lighting. If you’ve seen Aliens vs Predator: Requiem (2007), then you know what I’m talking about. Not even night vision goggles can fix that movie.
Skyline jumps right into the action at four in the morning when a bunch of blue lights shoot down out of the clouds into the city streets of Los Angeles, California. Our lead characters, Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and his pregnant girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson), are awakened by these awfully bright lights glaring through their window. Jarrod goes to investigate in another room where one of his friends has vanished through a window where the light is shining through. The glare draws Jarrod in, his eyes turn opaque and the veins burn throughout his body. Boom! We cut to the opening credits and jump fifteen or so hours before all this stuff started happening.
The prologue to this alien invasion is that Jarrod and Elaine are flying to L.A. for his best friend Terry’s (Donald Faison) big birthday celebration. Terry is a wealthy special effects guy who lives in a very luxurious apartment complex complete with a pool, parking lot, concierge, and a penthouse. Spending the night with them is Terry’s girlfriend Candace (Brittany Daniel), one of his employees Ray (Neil Hopkins), and secretary Denise (Crystal Reed). Several arguments later, we arrive back to the point we were at during the opening sequence with the bright blue lights descending upon L.A.
So before Jarrod can be sucked into the light, Terry tackles him away from it. They then head up to the rooftop to get a better view of what’s going on. Throughout the city, hordes of people are drawn to these lights which just sit in the middle of wherever they land. Then, a bunch of large alien ships descend from the clouds and position themselves over the blue lights where they proceed to vacuum up hundreds upon thousands of entranced humans into their ships. Now the story is set up and the real party begins.
Our characters spend two days hiding out in this penthouse apartment with the blinds closed, arguing over what they’re going to do, what’s a good idea and what’s a bad idea, how are we going to survive? And so forth. I guess you can call it Night of the Living Dead meets War of the Worlds or something. Terry comes up with the idea of escaping on his boat at the docks which is only a couple blocks away from the building. Jarrod agrees on this because he recalled seeing no alien activity taking place over the water, all the action was happening within the confinements of the city.
Jarrod’s girlfriend isn’t okay with this plan but she never goes into detail why, it’s not until another character who we meet later explains. Maybe if it were only the vacuum sucking motherships that they were up against, maybe then they would have a chance of escaping at the docks, however, the aliens seemed to have come well-prepared for their invasion. They know there’s going to be people who will put two and two together and try to hide from the blue lights. To counteract this, they have squid-like drones that fly around looking for any stragglers. Then on top of that, they’ve got Cloverfield-sized monsters stomping around to assist them.
So any chance of them escaping on Terry’s boat went out the window when the big ships started releasing the squids and the heavy-footers. And even if they did manage to make it to the boat and away from the land, the annoying squid drones would fly right after them and sink their ship. I’m surprised how it never occurred to any of these characters that the aliens had pretty much secured every area of the surface but not the sewers. They could have found some type of entry way into the sewers beneath their building or nearby the building and just escape through there.
So, the building’s concierge Oliver (David Zayas) eventually joins the group following their initial escape attempt. He tries ramming one of the squid drones with his car in the building’s parking lot, which seems to temporarily disable it, but it starts repairing itself moments later. We soon discover that the aliens are here for our brains. Why? Well, it’s explained but for the confinements of this review, I’ll leave that for you to find out. One by one, our characters begin to die, building up to an exciting climax in the final fifteen to twenty minutes. This point in the film is filled with excellent tension and a true sense of hopelessness but then it ruins everything in the last five minutes.
I’m sure in one review or another, or perhaps from a friend, you may have heard of Skyline‘s ridiculous ending. Well, it’s beyond ridiculous, it’s inexcusable. It’s the last thing you would expect to see in a film like this. Do the Strause Brothers intentionally screw up the endings to their films? We’ve gone from “It is from another world, Mrs. Yutani” to something which I could describe as being right out of a Swamp Thing comic book. Amazing.
While the characters are provided very little detail, the performances somewhat make up for them. For the most part, Eric Balfour, David Zayas, and Donald Faison are pretty likable here. As for the three chicks… ahh. You see, Skyline has a great concept for an alien invasion movie, it presents with a very menacing and seemingly obsolete alien race. There is one point where the military engages in an air battle with one of the big hovering ships, a nuke is launched but, just like the car incident in the garage, it soon begins to repair itself. The aliens are seemingly impossible to kill, unless you’ve been exposed to their blue lights on more than one occasion.
Our male lead Jarrod gets exposed (but pulled away just in time) to these lights quite a few times throughout the movie. This eventually mutates his body and gives him an uber strength of some sort. He soon learns that he’s strong enough to take on the aliens. This wasn’t a bad idea and I’m glad they didn’t go overboard with it, that is until I saw the ending. Anyway, we’re never given any real insight into these aliens — how they work, where they come from, or what they are exactly. They could have ended it at a point right before the actual ending we got or they could have just went down the Independence Day route – instead of a simple computer virus, the characters discover that wearing sunglasses prevent the blue lights from possessing you. Sunglasses are the key, people! Tell everyone around the world.