The film concerns itself with an alien invasion of Earth, in a similar style to everything from War of the Worlds to Independence Day. In this case, following events from the perspective of a small group of friends trapped in a Los Angeles apartment block, as they witness what happens and try to survive.
'The Brothers Strause', as they have named themselves, were responsible for producing and directing the film with their own funds. They own their own Hollywood effects company, and their previous (and first) feature-film directing credit was the rather dreadful Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem. This was the first bad sign, but supposedly a lot of studio interference marred that film, and Skyline was meant to be their independent proof of talent. Unfortunately it falls a little flat.
Lack of characterisation, is Skyline's biggest flaw. There are any number of potential plot holes, from improbable survival in close proximity to a nuclear blast (Along with nary a consequence of note), through to unrealistic military tactics, to explosive gas that seems to leave people completely conscious without any drowsy effects at all. All conceits that could have been somewhat forgiveable (How many successful films get away with worse?), had it not been for the utter lack of sympathetic and interesting characters that make us want to witness and follow their struggle to survive.
Jarrod, the lead character and 'cool artist dude', is played by Eric Balfour (known for numerous small parts in a variety of TV series). Unfortunately he seems completely miscast. His look and demeanour hint that he should be some gun-wielding LA 'gangsta'. Between the lack of interesting personality in the script, and his inappropriate casting and on-screen persona, it is difficult to care what happens to Jarrod, as events unfold.
It may seem as though I'm coming down hard on Skyline. The action scenes are often effective and well executed, the special effects are for the most part excellent, and the pace does build adequately as the film progresses. Make no mistake, the stars of this film are the special effects, and considering its rumoured low-budget of ten million dollars, it does look spectacular. This isn't a film that throws all of its best moments at you during the trailer. There is plenty of eye-candy to enjoy, from big explosions to gooey aliens.
Another positive on Skyline's side, is the ending. It's flawed, because it leaves things deliberately open for a sequel without a conclusion, but it did appear that it was going to end in a much more stereotypical and annoyingly pointless and hopeless way. So the subsequent ending did feel more satisfying. It ends with some hope, albeit it an extreme way that many may not like. In fact, the conclusion reminded me of something straight out of Edgar Rice Burroughs 'Synthetic Men of Mars' (first published in 1939). As such, I enjoyed its somewhat old-school sense of fun, mixed with modern action and effects.
It's a shame, as Skyline had a lot of potential. There are rumours of a sequel, and given the ending, it could be great fun. However, I won't hold my breath. I'm giving it 6 out of 10, for the sheer fun of some scenes, but that's being very generous, overall.
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