I first saw the Skyline trailer last year, and it looked impressive in a post-pub sort of way, so I was looking forward to its release despite it being from the Strause brothers, makers of the much-maligned AVP: Aliens vs. Predator – Requiem. However I’m now coming late to this on DVD, and in the meantime it’s picked up negative word of mouth to almost rival its antecedent.
It’s your basic alien invasion plot, and pitches you into the drama immediately as bright lights descend from the sky. I was relieved that there wasn’t going to be any of the ‘getting to know annoying characters’ stuff that scuppered Cloverfield, but before I had time to blink, the dreaded ’15 hours earlier’ card appeared. (I don’t know about you, but I hate this sort of thing; unless there’s some clever reason for messing about with time lines, I just want to be told the story)
The characters turn out to be exactly the sort of people who deserve to be crushed under giant alien feet: the central couple (played by Eric Balfour and Scottie Thompson) spend all their time arguing about being offered a job with lots of money, which is not an endearing trait in a recession. TV veteran David Zayas comes across a bit better as the building superintendent, but the yuppie friends are cannon fodder. Some of the criticism is correct but it’s fish in a barrel stuff. Of course Eric Balfour is better suited to quirky supporting roles than leading man roles, and most of the supporting cast don’t approach his level of professionalism.
Thankfully it doesn’t take long before the aliens bring some much-needed action to the scenario, and this is where the movie delivers. Some surprisingly expensive-looking damage is wrought to the area outside the central apartment, and it’s not limited to shadows and badly-lit model shots. Once the dawn breaks on the morning after the invasion, we get to see some huge scaly ships and beasts decimate the cast. The effects shots are as impressive as the earlier scenes were tedious, and I expect that most of the potential audience will be happy with the balance this way round.
Dramatically it’s a bit hard to defend, but I have to admit that the action scenes put to shame movies with ten times the budget of Skyline. I would have given it a qualified recommendation if it wasn’t for the bizarre finale, where Balfour and Thompson rediscover their love for each other and the movie goes into space and completely loses its marbles. It’s certainly memorable and I suspect the movie will be looked on more kindly in a few years time.
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