Newest Review: ... of the situation might have been seen as artistic by some, but for me it was just painful to watch. Long before the film is ove... more
BRAIN SUCKING ALIENS FROM OUTER SPACE!
Member Name: Mauri
Advantages: Good special effects
Disadvantages: Poor story
It seems that alien invasion or alien first contact movies are a very popular genre at the moment. Recently we've had 'Super 8' and in the last few years we had 'Cloverfiled' (2008), 'District 9' (2009), 'Monsters' (2010) and 'Battle: Los Angeles' (2011) as well some more less well known titles I'm sure. 'Skyline' made in 2010 fits neatly into this trend and there is no mistaking the influences that some of the others especially 'Cloverfield' had on it. Unfortunately where 'Cloverfield' was innovative and imaginative in both its story and the way it was filmed 'Skyline' falls into the usual pattern of alien invasion movies and in the end is a well executed if rather formulaic and derivative effort.
Graphic artist Jarrod and his girlfriend Elaine fly to Los Angeles to meet up with Jarrod's old friend and successful businessman Terry, and his wife Candice. Terry gives a party in his penthouse apartment and offers Jarrod a job with him in LA. Things seems to be going well but very early in the morning when the party has finished and only a few people are left in the apartment a strange beam of bright light shines through the windows. As people stare at it they seem to be taken away by a mysterious force. Soon the group of friends realise that they are in the middle of a hostile alien invasion.
What is there to say about this film? Anyone who has seen Cloverfield will immediately recognise the attempts by the brothers Strause (Colin and Greg) to imitate the claustrophobic style of that earlier and better film. There is no hand held camera gimmick in 'Skyline' but we do as in 'Cloverfiled' get the flashback moment that takes us back to fill in the story up to the point of the Alien invasion.
To be fair the beginning of the film is the best part. The introduction of the characters is fine and the lead up to the alien attack with the mysterious light and the people being taken into the bowels of the alien spaceships are well done and you feel that a promising adventure will follow unfortunately the story tends to stall as the group try and escape from the apartment building they find themselves trapped in. After a while as a viewer you lose interest in their fate and the story in general. The attempt to create a feeling of claustrophobia which as the group of fiends is trapped in the apartment building trying to escape capture from the aliens should be a dramatic plus for the film but in the end is one of the reasons the films doesn't work. In order for this approach to work tension and interest has to be maintained throughout but halfway through the film you start thinking that with the momentous alien invasion occurring all over LA that you can see from the rooftops we are actually stuck watching one of the more boring bits.
The portrayal of the aliens and the obligatory CGI special effects are what we come to expect from a mainstream sci-fi action movie these days and for a movie with a budget of £10 million the special effects are a cut above the rest. Having said that they are not that much better than the extremely low budget 'Monsters' released around the same time. The cast is ok-ish (maybe I'm being generous) given the material they have to work with. The chisel jawed hero is played by Eric Balfour who is still best known for his stint as Milo in '24' if not for his lead role in the dreadful Syfy produced 'Dinoshark'! His acting is definitely in 'B Movie' hunk territory and he won't be bothering the academy awards ceremony any time soon. Alongside with Balfour we have the unusually named Scottie Thompson as his girlfriend Elaine. In a strange way she's quite good actually and when she's required to act beyond looking terrified at the CGI aliens she does show some skill and makes the plight of her character even in the improbable circumstances of the story almost believable. She hasn't done very much before this film but I expect that with her looks and her acting ability she will go on to make plenty more high profile movies.
Fans of hospital based comedy series 'Scrubs' will be intrigue, maybe dismayed, to see Donald Faison aka Dr Turk in a 'serious' role, although I still expected him to crack a joke throughout the film. Unfortunately for Faison and the others in the cast there are plenty of unintentional comedy moments thanks to the woeful script. David Zayas of 'Dexter' and 'The Expendables' fame is all 'glarey' and angry as the belligerent building supervisor but the rest of the cast is hardly worth mentioning, they perform adequately without lighting up the screen.
The real problem with the film is that while some care and skill has gone into the special effects and design as you'd expect from the Brothers Strause who were involved in making the special effects for 'Iron Man 2', 'Avatar' and 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button' but very little care has gone into the story or character development. Several attempts are made to flesh out the characters and create more dramatic tension; Terry's infidelity with his PA is discovered by his wife, Jarrod discovers Elaine is pregnant and he's not ready for fatherhood but in the end these threads become irrelevant, and you start thinking "so what!"
The best bits of the film are the vista across the early morning skyline of Los Angeles as the aliens begin their lethal attacks, there are some very impressive dog fights between US fighter jets stealth bombers and the alien crafts along with some suitably apocalyptic explosions, unfortunately its the bits in between the action and especially those involving dialogue that really let the film down. The script is woeful to the extent that you begin to feel sorry for the actors having to mouth the lines. When the aliens are destroying everything in sight we get the classic "We gotta get out of here!" ...no sh*t Sherlock! Or another classic when some alien failed to be killed ... "They're not dead! They're just really, really pissed off!"
As the film progresses you realise that this is strictly what used to be called straight to video now straight to DVD territory. I admit that by the end I was bored and that's not good for a sci-fi action adventure, the fact that I actually laughed at the unbelievably trite ending doesn't make it any better.
As with most science fiction thrillers these days there is a little bit of gore and quite a lot of violence most of which can be considered cartoon like so not very disturbing although some of the more graphic scenes merit this film a 15 UK certificate.
CAST AND TECHNICAL DETAILS
Brittany Daniel ...Candice
Directed by Colin Strause and Greg Strause (as The Brothers Strause), wittten by Joshua Cordes and Liam O'Donnell.
UK certificate 15
Overall in terms of special effects it's better than most lowish budget sci-fi films these days but it's let down badly by a awful script and plodding story with stupid ending.
Recommended?...well I'd wait until it's shown on late at night TV, on channel 5 or equivalent.
© Mauri 2011
Summary: Low budget Sci-fi film let down by poor story