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SKYLINE (2010 Film)

A 2010 alien invasion film directed by Greg Strause.

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Don't Go Into the Light....

  • Nov 13, 2010
You no longer need a screenplay to make an alien invasion movie. All you need is a special effects studio, a lot of computers, and creature designers that go for all the reliable hallmarks, like flailing tentacles. You also need plenty of death and destruction, and it must all be contained within the borders of a major city - say Los Angeles or New York, because God knows an alien species prefers them to cities like Pittsburg or Chicago or Seattle or Cleveland. Scenes like that serve as a nice counterpoint to hilariously unconvincing lines like, "Everything's under control!" Convention dictates that whoever says something like this is acting out of desperation, not determination, and this is why we already know that the character will bite it within the next ten to twenty minutes, if not sooner.

There was a time when we could rely on an alien invasion movie to tell us a story, no matter how shoddy the special effects, no matter how embarrassing the performances, no matter how weak the premise. Even the lowliest B-movies of the 1950s had actual writers attached to them. They depended on science fiction to send allegorical messages about social issues, nuclear war, the horrors of technology, or political corruption. "Skyline" takes the exact opposite approach; it's a technical achievement trapped in a narrative so incompetent, it doesn't even earn the distinction of a B-movie. There is no story. There is no theme. It makes not the slightest effort to be consistent, plausible, or understandable. It provides us with no resolution, apart from the possibility of a sequel. Not bloody likely, if I may quote George Bernard Shaw.

It's sad to think of all the talent that went into the special effects, knowing their efforts were wasted on a film undeserving of them. We are provided with a few genuinely good looking shots; one of my favorites was of the aliens sucking hundreds of people up into their mother ship like bugs in a vacuum cleaner. I also liked the aliens themselves, even if tentacles stopped being original long before the release of "Independence Day." They were designed by Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr., best known for their contributions to the "Alien" franchise. I've watched interviews with them. They seem like nice guys. Sometimes, though, I wonder if they go into a film project without really knowing what the director has in mind. Did they realize that their designs would be featured in a film that makes no attempt to explain them?

For a movie with no plot, there is an awful lot of setup. It begins with couple Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and Elaine (Scottie Thompson) flying into Los Angeles from Brooklyn to visit their old friend, Terry (Donald Faison), who struck it big as a Hollywood special effects producer. Their inconsequential human drama is rudely interrupted when, at 4:30 the following morning, the city is attacked by extraterrestrial forces. Their weapon of choice isn't a laser beam or a death ray, but a brilliant blue light; once you look into it, you're hopelessly drawn in, like a moth is drawn to a flame. Your eyes cloud over. Dark tendrils spread across your skin like bruises. What they want with us is left hopelessly obscure, although we are treated to a number of shots of glowing blue brains being sucked out of people's heads - with the spinal cords still attached, no less.

Every movie like this deserves at least one glaring technicality. "Skyline" provides us with several. Immediately after everyone wakes up at 4:30, for example, both Jarrod and Terry head to the roof of the apartment complex to get a better view; they emerge in full sunlight, which must mean that it took them at least three hours to climb a few flights of stairs. Later on, when the television is turned on, it's discovered that every local news broadcast is missing their anchors. This begs two questions: (1) Why are the cameras still on, pointed at empty desks, and (2) if no one is there to operate the cameras, then who's capturing live footage of the military as they attack the alien ship? It can't just be some yahoo with a camcorder. How would this person know how to patch into the local satellite feed?

There are many instances of little alien scout ships and even the aliens themselves getting blown to bits in an explosion, only for them to repair themselves, get back up, and continue attacking. At what point should it become clear that fireballs and missiles have absolutely no effect? After the third attempt? The fourth? Perhaps the characters in this film are firm believers that if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

At a certain point, perhaps because I was desperate to find some angle of approach, I thought of all the ways that "Skyline" was a veiled commentary about the dangers of Los Angeles celebrity culture. It seemed to work: It takes place in the apartment complex of a special effects producer, who surrounds himself with high tech gadgets and young, gorgeous women; when the aliens appear, they use a beautiful light to suck people in and eat their brains, just as the promise of fame and fortune can lure you in and turn you into a drone. Scottie Thompson is even supplied the line, "I hate L.A." Alas, shots near the end of the film made it clear that no message was being sent, that the film's only aim was to be a shiftless CGI extravaganza. I had, in short, wasted nearly 100 minutes trying to apply reason to an unreasonable film. Don't make the same mistake I made.

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November 13, 2010
seems like you and I are are almost in full 100% agreement on this one--we rated it the same even. Sweet review!
November 13, 2010
by the way, good work with the headline LOL! reminds me of POLTERGEIST...
November 13, 2010
Yes, that is what I was going for. It just seemed to fit.
More Skyline (2010 movie) reviews
review by . November 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Prepare To be Harvested...Resistance Is Stupid.
Alien invasion movies; gosh, these films are a dime-a-dozen. When I saw the trailer for Strause Brothers’ latest alien invasion flick “SKYLINE“, I admit, I was intrigued. I thought perhaps we are finally going to get a flick that can “go there” when it came to the darkness of such a premise. Well, I wasn’t that impressed with “Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem” but hey, I respected it; the Strause brothers displayed their talent in making a low-budget monster …
review by . January 17, 2011
Nowhere to run!
      Look at the light and it controls you. The city is under attack by aliens. And it is GROSS! You’ve a replay of the ALIEN except that they now “reside” in the city and swallow up any human in their paths! Slimy king kongs, that’s what they are.        It’s a movie that shows human misplaced trust in the unknown until they are proved otherwise. When under attack, the occupants in an L.A. apartment have only one choice, …
review by . June 09, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Half a star out of ****     "Skyline" is what a casual movie-going audience would want to see out of an alien invasion flick, although it falls just a little bit short of the average film (of the like). However, with that being said, this means that it's hard to imagine that even the mindless monkeys who munch on this crap daily will be particularly impressed, and that's saying something. However, if you're a real movie-goer who doesn't want explosions and CGI in the place of …
review by . January 03, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
   Being one of those conspiracy guys who likes to look up at the night sky and wonder when the hell we're going to have an alien invasion, or at least be paid a visit, (we've been around for quite a while now, where's the planet warming present?) so this type of film would usually be right up my street. Naturally, the concept of a film crossing Independence Day with Cloverfield would be a good one, as we frequently get alien invasion films set on a larger scale, so the impact …
review by . June 06, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
visually stimulating otherwise a total flop
Its very rare for me to write a negative review usually i only feel its worth my time to review if i liked it and think others will enjoy it to, this however is an exception. After being told by several reliable sources that i would like this movie i watched it, it left me wondering where i go to file a petition to get the wasted time back. This movie stars off confusing and rushed from the start when are leading happy couple make a trip to LA to celebrate the birthday of a friend who has made it …
review by . March 14, 2011
   There is something about films that just suck the life right out of you.  No I do not mean that because I went to an 11pm screening, I mean it literally sucked the life out of me.  The monster child of Colin and Greg Strause takes all that was great about Independence Day, Cloverfield, and District 9 and gives you a crack baby called Skyline.  I'm sure they will make their money many times over since this film was shot on the "measly" budget of $1m, but …
review by . April 19, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: One or two alien ideas; the movie's trailer.     Cons: Pretty much everything else     The Bottom Line: Let's face it - the trailer for this movie was better than the movie itself. Hey, at least it's only an hour and thirty minutes.     I do give away just a few things, so if you want to go into this movie blind, read someone else's review.    So I just finished watching Skyline.  My reaction?  I just …
review by . December 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      There is no way on earth, a movie could fail in presentation like Skyline does. Originality is not even worth talking about since Independence Day or War of the Worlds are one of the many films this movie tried to copy. What the director did not understood is that you cannot steal ideas, concepts and give orders within the total chaos you have just created. This so-called "science-fiction" movie has no character development, matter of fact, it has no characters …
Quick Tip by . November 04, 2010
This movie appear to promise to be what the dumb film "Independence Day" should/could have been. The trailer promises earth-shattering battles and Greg Strause does know how to shoot battle scenes. It is his lack of stroytelling skills that worries me...I'll have to check this out to judge for myself.      Added: I managed to see it and posted this review. Better as a rental.
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #5
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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About this movie


  • Opens November 12, 2010
  • PG-13
    For sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence, some language and brief sexual content
  • Strange lights over Los Angeles herald the arrival of a malevolent alien force that threatens to swallow up all of humanity.
  • Cast: Donald Faison, Eric Balfour, David Zayas, Scottie Thompson, Brittany Daniel
  • Director: Greg Strause
  • Genres: Alien FilmScience Fiction
  • A series of blindingly bright lights appear all over Los Angeles, mesmerizing the citizens of the city while luring them to an uncertain fate in this sci-fi thriller from sibling filmmakers Greg and Colin Strause. As speculation regarding the origin of the mysterious lights runs rampant, a Los Angeles entrepreneur (Donald Faison), his best friend, Jarrod (Eric Balfour), and Jarrod's frightened girlfriend (Scottie Thompson) struggle to resist temptation as they seek out the source of the luminous threat. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
  • Poster art for "Skyline"
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    Director: Greg Strause
    Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi
    Release Date: November 12, 2010
    MPAA Rating: PG-13
    Runtime: 92 minutes
    Studio: Universal Studios
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