An Independence Day scale invasion told as a Friday the Thirteenth slasher film with visuals inspired by The Matrix and shot on a shoestring. Verdict? Not too bad.
A few hours before dawn in Los Angeles, clusters of unearthly blue lights descend in a pattern all over the city. In the aftermath of an penthouse bash the night before, one of the party-goers goes to the window to investigate only to vanish as if suddenly pulled away. As seen through the eyes of a handful of mere humans, aliens begin systematically drawing victims to their ships and willfully hunting down any who resist. Who they are and what they want aren’t as important as “Does humanity stand a chance?”
This kind of slasher-esque film used to be more common place; take a bunch of television actors on hiatus, stick them someplace dangerous, then kill them off one by one. But Skyline is all about the special effects, which means that virtually every moment of back story on our heroes (read: victims) is less than filler, it’s pure unwanted distraction. The real meat of the film is all running and surviving, but one extra scene tacked on right after the inevitable ending acts as a preview to what my come next. Skyline is pure eye candy, but it’s mighty tasty.
Is there any easy way to say to the filmmakers that every moment spent shooting the back story was a waste of time? Ugh. It would have been enough to move forward right where things started out, but instead we are made to endure dribble. The moment the running starts, Skyline manages to outshine Cloverfield in mere minutes, then keeps charging ahead to show off more goodies. By the time we see a fighter jet rolling over a rooftop and smashing into a monster, the filmmakers, Colin and Greg Strause, are pretty much having their way with us and purely showing off.
It’s already been suggested that Skyline plays more like the resume of a special effects graduate trying to get a studio’s attention, but underneath it all are hints of social commentary that have been far better explored elsewhere. The extra scene at the end provides more answers than the entire rest of the film as well as sets up where it all could go from here, a tiny ray of hope even in the face of the end of the human race. Would Skyline have been better without it? We’ll have to wait for the sequel to find out, especially since this film made back its entire budget in three days even without hitting first place at the box office.
(a two and a half skull recommendation out of four)