Film Review: Skyline

At a certain point in Skyline, how soon depends on your patience, you will wish the protagonists would just succumb to their fate so this awful film will end. The special effects are decent, but sadly little else is.

Elaine and Jarrod are awoken by strange bright lights shining into the Los Angeles penthouse apartment. People are drawn to these lights, created by an alien presence. The couple and their friends must fight for survival as the human population is being decimated…

Skyline is a mess in all departments, bar the visual effects. Perhaps this is not surprising considering the directors, Colin and Greg Strause, are visual effects veterans (having only previously directed AVPR: Alien vs Predator – Requiem) and it is the first script from both Liam O’Donnell and Joshua Cordes, again with backgrounds in effects. The film was financed independently by the Strause brothers, rather than funded by a major studio. Whilst their independence is admirable, perhaps major studio executives may have spotted what a disaster the film is in time to salvage it.

Skyline is a by-number disaster picture that owes a debt to Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day. Unlike the 1996 film, however, Skyline lacks the pacing and momentum to make it an enjoyable movie. Following the initial attack, subsequent significant events are minimal. The story drags, failing to give viewers any indication of when a climax will arise.

The very ending of the film is quite bizarre, showing a slither of originality hitherto unseen. What precedes is stock disaster movie scenarios; aborted attempts at escape, close brushes with danger and the extermination of survivors all feature in Skyline.

Nevertheless, perhaps the most deplorable aspect of the film is the awful dialogue and acting. Some may find it amusing how poor this is, however it quickly grows tiresome. The dialogue is hackneyed; its sub-standard quality is exemplified by the terrible delivery from most of the cast members.

A flashback sequences at the beginning of the film, which gives some background to the protagonists, attempts to elicit from the audience some concern for these characters later down the line. This fails miserably, as the one-dimensional characters are difficult to engage with. Scottie Thompson and David Zayas, in particular, are entirely unconvincing in their delivery of lines, while it doesn’t seem that Eric Balfour attempts to display emotion.

The special effects appear convincing; with Skyline‘s modest budget being used well in this regard. Michael Watson’s cinematography is also one of the few positives of the movie. Sadly, these are not enough to keep the film afloat.

Skyline seems to be the result of what happens when a group of visual effects designers, with little other experience, decide they also have the prowess to write and direct a feature. Instead of just showing the film within their social circle, Skyline has been granted a wide release. It really should not have been.