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Skyline
DVD disk
03.21.2011 By: Jason Adams
Skyline order
Director:
The Brothers Strause

Actors:
Eric Balfour
Donald Faison
Brittany Daniels

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A group of friends attempt to survive an alien invasion in Los Angeles.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
When a DVD cover can only boast "From the visual effects masterminds behind AVATAR, IRON MAN 2 and 300!" you know you're probably in trouble. And when Brett Ratner is listed as a producer you might as well burn the thing and cut your losses.

To be fair, I didn’t dismiss this film right off the bat. I thought the presentation at Comic-Con showed some promise, and the low-budget, guerilla independent style they were going for was intriguing given the subject matter, but SKYLINE proves to be an exercise in special effects and nothing else. Directed by the Brothers Strause (AVP: REQUIEM), it’s clearly a case of two guys who were tired of doing VFX for other people and wanted to see what they could do on their own. (Literally—almost the entire thing was filmed in their own condo.) The aliens and the CGI were pretty cool, but unfortunately no amount of processing power or computer software can manufacture a good story or halfway decent script. And while the thought of thousands of people getting Hoovered in to the sky and giant aliens attacking Los Angeles might make for good visuals, if it's not connected to anything that matters (i.e. characters) you might as well be watching a sizzle reel.

Almost the entire movie takes place in the same apartment complex. While some great movies happen in confined quarters, again you need tight writing and a well-thought out story to pull it off, neither of which SKYLINE possesses. The characters literally sit inside for the middle act, watching all the fun, more interesting alien stuff that you’d rather see happen outside. You never get a real sense of scope or urgency, which makes everything pretty boring.

And when it’s not making you fall asleep, SKYLINE is probably making you roll your eyes. This is a movie comprised of stupid decisions like “Let’s go outside and check out what's killing everybody!” or “Let’s take the car…what smashed and killed every other driver probably won't kill us too!” It has a script where the big climactic plan is "Let's do the exact same thing we tried at the beginning that killed all our friends. Maybe this time it will work!" And my personal favorite: Right before a character is ready to kill himself and take out a bunch of aliens, the camera focuses on a painting of a Japanese kamikaze in the background. (What convenient art decoration!)

If SKYLINE had ended 15 minutes earlier, it would just be a bad movie, but in its final moments it goes on to be spectacularly bad. While I don't recommend you watch the movie, I still don't want to spoil the last few minutes on the off chance you happen to catch this on cable. It's completely insane to an almost enjoyable degree, and granted it takes some pretty big chances before it abruptly cuts off, except when you realize the out-of-left field turn was not earned in any way by the film and is only in place to give you something to talk about after the movie ends besides, "Wow, do I deserve some money back."
THE EXTRAS
Commentary by The Brothers Strause: The majority of this is just the directing duo explaining how they filmed the movie on a low budget, from shooting inside their own homes to favors they called in from their Hollywood friends. They also acknowledge that the film’s end was intended to be a big “f*ck you” to the audience. Well, at least they’re honest.

Commentary by writers/producers Liam O’Donnell and Joshua Cordes: Seeing as the script was the one big downfall of the film, and at no point do O’Donnell or Cordes offer condolences to the viewers, I say skip this.

Deleted Scenes (6:39): There’s little bits of extra setup from the party and a couple more scenes of them "surviving" in their condo. Nothing of major consequence. Available with director commentary.

Alternate Scenes (2:35): A couple longer takes featuring more character backstory. Available with director commentary.

Previsualization: Some rough CG models that match up pretty closely with the final product. I guess that's the point, huh. Available with director commentary.

Trailers.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
SKYLINE is a visual effects demonstration more than a movie. If you like shiny special effects and mindless action over story and character, you might be able to tolerate it more than most.

Extra Tidbit: The film reportedly cost only $500,000 to shoot, but $10 million with the special effects.
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