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Review: Skyline

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As someone who has a lot of friends with film degrees – but doesn’t actually have one of his own – it’s hard to imagine what all goes into perfecting a movie in post production. I can’t pinpoint exactly how the audio and video needs to be refined in order to make it feel slightly surreal to come off as more professional, but it’s easy to tell when a film lacks this finesse. And, hey, I love it when movies discard that surreal Hollywood veil and go for all out realism, but Skyline definitely tries to be professional and fails. In that sense, it felt like Skyline was made by a straight-A college graduate with a brand new film degree and a million dollar camera that they don’t quite know how to utilize yet.

Add some great special effects, and some not so great special effects, and you have a movie that would be the best college project ever, but is ultimately disappointing when you find out it’s from seasoned “professionals” in the industry. The “Brothers Strause” do a lot of things wrong or unprofessionally, but they also do a few things right, so it’s worth stating that landslide bad...

As someone who has a lot of friends with film degrees – but doesn’t actually have one of his own – it’s hard to imagine what all goes into perfecting a movie in post production. I can’t pinpoint exactly how the audio and video needs to be refined in order to make it feel slightly surreal to come off as more professional, but it’s easy to tell when a film lacks this finesse. And, hey, I love it when movies discard that surreal Hollywood veil and go for all out realism, but Skyline definitely tries to be professional and fails. In that sense, it felt like Skyline was made by a straight-A college graduate with a brand new film degree and a million dollar camera that they don’t quite know how to utilize yet.

Add some great special effects, and some not so great special effects, and you have a movie that would be the best college project ever, but is ultimately disappointing when you find out it’s from seasoned “professionals” in the industry. The “Brothers Strause” do a lot of things wrong or unprofessionally, but they also do a few things right, so it’s worth stating that landslide bad reviews for this movie are mostly going overboard.{{page_break}}

Skyline starts off good with a bang and follows it up with another bang as it shoots itself in the foot. We’re thrown right into the action as the aliens make contact and just as things start to get exciting we’re immediately yanked out of the action with a “15 hours earlier” scene that reeks of tawdry TV shows like The Event. From here the movie never fully recovers its film foundation and continues to come off as a high budget TV show.

I’ve always felt that Eric Balfour is a great supporting cast member for a TV show, but his role as Jarrod suggests he’s just not cut out for a film career. Terry (Donald Faison from Scrubs) and Oliver (David Zayas from Dexter) are the only two actors to break even with their roles, with Denise (Scottie Thompson) and all others just getting worse and worse as the movie continued. Although, Brittany Daniel actually did a good job as Candice, but only because playing a bitch isn’t very difficult.

With so many skyscraper windows shown in the trailer, it was nice to have a spy telescope comically introduced early on as a tool that would come in handy later, but it actually ended up hurting the film’s logic severely. The established fear early on is that looking at the blue beams of energy will alter your body genetics and hypnotize you in ways that were never fully answered, yet the blue beams of light are hardly ever present, so why not be sneaking peaks through your windows nonstop? Oh, because random aliens might pass by and see you. Okay, then close the curtains and use the telescope nonstop. Instead they just stayed cooped up for half the film refusing to look outside for updates, and eventually we start asking why all these aliens are going to so much trouble to hunt down every last living human instead of leaving after their initial hostage pool. The reason eventually comes, but it’s trite and also doesn’t answer anything.

These complaints almost boil for half the film, but Skyline still manages to nail its few storyboard frames that it no doubt used to raise money for this project. It’s the reason the trailer appeared pretty good but we all knew not to expect much walking in; when the storyboarded scene comes it’s cinematically balanced and beautiful to look at for 2 seconds before trudging through two more minutes of unsure directing and execution to fill time before the next storyboard panel arrives. Another backhanded compliment I can give Skyline is that the creature designs are mostly enjoyable and intriguing, though a little too varied from one to the next to the point that they almost feel like species from different alien planets joining forces. And while the alien designs were cool, the spaceships were pretty awful. The design for the mothership was a mess of nonsensical spirals that have horrid textures.

Aside from all of this, there are three positive things I can say about the movie with no “buts” attached. First, the jet fight was pretty cool and was probably the only time outside of the first three minutes where I was actually excited to see what would happen next. Second, although I friggin’ love Cloverfield, it’s nice to see alien invasion movies that don’t hide the aliens for as long as possible, and seeing them constantly be present was a cool auto-immersion factor that I wish would be done more often in other movies. Lastly, it bugs me how hesitant movies are to take us into the mothership and explore the alien culture and lifestyles. It really added to Independence Day, and I’m glad Skyline didn’t shy away from doing it either, but I wish it had been done as more than just a quick finale scene. Crap, I promised no buts!  

Even though the very end of the movie also isn’t logical at all, it was still fun to see, which pretty much sums up the entire movie, and will probably also sum up the next movie if they decide to make a sequel. Rent it at best, avoid it at worst.

Overall Score: 5.40 – Bad. (5s are movies that either failed at reaching the goals it set out to do, or didn’t set out to do anything special and still had many flaws. Some will enjoy 5s, but unless you’re a fan of this genre, you shouldn’t see it, and might not even want to rent it.)

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reviewed by Tom Fronczak

 

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Tom Fronczak
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Filed under... #Alien #Reviews #Space

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