Skyline (2010)

skyline

4/10

A group of party friends hide out in an LA apartment while aliens come with big ships and bright lights to harvest humans.

This is a familiar combination of good special effects and really mediocre filmmaking.

This underlying mediocrity is apparent from the start. In the first act when we get to know the characters, there is this unmistakable aura of inexperienced filmmaking in the movie. The characters are all saying their lines a bit awkwardly, as if all the actors are a bit nervous. There is no character to them and no dramatic tension. The actors are posturing their roles, telling the audience that they are leading an awesome life but all you are seeing is vacuous characters saying “yeah that’s what I’m talking about” “alright! Let’s join the crew” “good to meet you man”. There’s hip hop background music and they fake laugh at each other to enforce it.

You get the picture?

I can’t help but compare this with Transformers 1-4. Those movies are also nothing but special effects and mediocre filmmaking. But the difference is that Transformers is shot and written by someone who was convinced that what he was doing was great. Transformers is so dumb that it is insulting and the real tragedy of those movies is that Michael Bay has the skills to make a better movie, but chooses to make a dumb one. In Skyline, we have some who wants to make a good movie, but doesn’t have the skills (yet).

If you are familiar with alien invasion movies, you will see all your favorite clichés again. We have a group of young party people, much like in Cloverfield (2008) that gets into trouble. Other movies that you will be reminded of are Battle Los Angeles (2011) and Battleship (2012), although Skyline came out earlier. The cliché that troubles me the most personally is characters that do not communicate and squabble all the time about bullshit.

“What’s wrong?”

“I said I’m fine!”

“Where’re you going?”

“Don’t worry, everything will be fine!”

Aaargh.

skyline2

The only thing good about the movie, really, is the effects. They are up to par with other high profile Hollywood blockbusters. What’s good too is that the aliens are introduced piecemeal so you stay curious about them. But then again, I guess all the budget was spent on the effects, because the film is shot strangely on only a few locations and the greater fight scenes outside the apartment seem detached from it all. Often, the effects are not integrated with the location of the characters. We only see them through the telescope that the characters use. It is as if the producer only had enough money to temporarily rent a condo and garage to shoot the movie there. Get out of that apartment already! The setting and characters turn stale too soon.

(I read later that it was the co-director’s own condo building. He bloody shot the movie in his own condo. No there are no rules that you cannot do it. It just signals laziness and lack of budget.)

So.. if you’d like to see attractive people dealing with an alien invasion (with good effects), should you try it out? No, the acting and settings are just too boring and the camerawork is too blurry, and you’ll just be irritated with the movie halfway through. If you like it, there is a sequel coming: Beyond Skyline (2015).

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