Skyline begins innocently enough: twentysomethings Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and Elaine (Scottie Thompson) arrive in L.A. to attend a party hosted by Terry (Donald Faison), an old friend who has managed to make it big in the film industry. While Elaine is turned off by the party’s other attendees, all of whom are some combination of bitchy, rich, and slutty,...read more
Skyline begins innocently enough: twentysomethings Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and Elaine (Scottie Thompson) arrive in L.A. to attend a party hosted by Terry (Donald Faison), an old friend who has managed to make it big in the film industry. While Elaine is turned off by the party’s other attendees, all of whom are some combination of bitchy, rich, and slutty, Jarrod appears willing to accept his friend’s offer to stay in town indefinitely, albeit for no other reason than Terry is being pushy. Elaine’s unexpected pregnancy (“I’m late…no, I’m late,” she tells him) is troubling, but seems to rank lower on the scale of importance for Jarrod. Of course, the trappings of the rich and famous are small beans compared to the full-scale alien invasion that will greet them the following morning.
Directed by the Brothers Strause (special effects artists Colin and Greg Strause), Skyline, perhaps not surprisingly, relies far too heavily on special effects, going so far as to insert banter about the importance of special effects into the characters’ dialogue. Sadly, for a script that consists primarily of grunts and screams, that self-serving conversation is a high point in terms of character interaction. Genuinely impressive, however, is the moment of first contact, during which the characters are transfixed by an eerie light emanating from a spacecraft. The Strauses’ technical expertise certainly shows, and the irony of walking toward the light only to meet horrors at the end of the tunnel is not lost.
Unfortunately, the film deteriorates as quickly as life on Earth does for this group of distinctly unheroic protagonists, clumsily borrowing elements from far superior films (Alien, Cloverfield, Independence Day, District 9) and hoping they’ll amount to something good. Jarrod (Balfour), who was exposed to the light for a significant period of time before being pulled away by his companions, begins to suffer from mysterious side-effects. There’s an ominous squelching noise in the general area of his appendix, and he admits to feeling “powerful” shortly before a display of potentially nonhuman strength. It’s suggested that he’s turning into an alien himself, but this is neither explored nor realized, and makes little sense following the revelation that the aliens discard human bodies after harvesting their brains.
Whether the brains are used for fuel, food, or as the film’s final moments imply, the absorption of human consciousness, is unclear. Though it seems like human brains are vital to their existence, there is no suggestion that this is anything other than the aliens’ first trip to Earth. Where they found their original supply is one of the many questions that goes unanswered, along with why the surviving earthlings seem none the worse for wear after the military detonates a nuclear bomb relatively nearby, and why they believe they’re safest in a high-rise suite when the aliens are equally tall and fly. Someone, at some point, really forgot to think this out (though, oddly enough, the ending suggests a sequel). Skyline delivers some unintentional B-movie comedy and a sweet spaceship, but that’s about it.
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