Review in a Hurry: Acclaimed special-effects duo Greg and Colin Strause follow up their decidedly un-acclaimed directorial debut ( Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem ) with a second space-creature feature about an alien invasion of Los Angeles.
Entertaining for some of the right reasons (great visuals, solid action) and many of the wrong ones (laughable acting, gaping lapses in logic, and the most altogether bonkers ending of the year), Skyline is a fun film--but not really a good one.
The Bigger Picture: Shot mostly in and around Greg Strause's condo in Marina Del Rey, Skyline sort-of goes for the Cloverfield effect (minus shaky-cam) of a grand-scale monster attack as seen from a limited perspective.
A penthouse would be the best vantage point to watch the apocalypse, but perhaps not the nicest to be actually trapped inside, as our small band of generic characters quickly finds.
What little back story the characters get involves out-of-towner Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and his ber-successful childhood friend Terry (Donald Faison). They seem to be musicians, but then later it seems as though Terry wants to hire Jarrod as a special effects artist? Either way doesn't matter much, since this isn't one of those movies where a character's hidden talent saves the day later. That would be too coherent a plot point.
Besides, the next day, the Independence Day/Matrix hybrid aliens come. Their multi-tiered invasion involves sending down blue, swirling lights, which briefly zombify anyone who looks at them, luring them into tractor beams up to the motherships.
Meanwhile, hovering squid critters and large elephant/crab hybrid things capture stray humans the old-fashioned way...with tentacles.
But their plan has a flaw--if someone looks at the lights but gets tackled and prevented from entering the tractor beam, enough of the zombification remains inside them to enable super-strength, or something. They should have worked out that little kink first.
Not to mention, the aliens are immune to nuclear weapons, but can be hurt by guns and bazookas. This is probably because the U.S. military opts to attack them with the world's worst nuke, one that seemingly has zero fallout or electromagnetic pulse, and leaves nearby skyscrapers standing.
All of this is covered by TV news cameras, even though nobody is left to operate them. Guess they just point themselves at the action.
The visuals are very cool, and plentiful, save for the brothers' overuse of cheesy slo-mo. For a movie on a $10 million budget, it delivers more and better bangs for the buck than many blockbusters ten times the price. It's just a shame they couldn't find actors who deliver equal efficiency. Or script doctors, for that matter.
But then, it's not like you were going to see this movie based on the acting or dialogue, now is it?
The 180--a Second Opinion: Though it's absolutely absurd, the moment where two of our main characters narrowly miss being crushed by a falling fighter jet is crazily cool.