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TBTS Reviews: Skyline

November 15, 2010

**This review does not contain any major spoilers.**

Skyline offers about 85 minutes of properly-bounded ridiculousness.  However, the movie is 92 minutes long.  The last few minutes are so absurd that, at the start of that stretch, I think I actually said “You’ve got to be kidding!” out loud.

The end doesn’t ruin the movie, though it seems the sole purpose is to set up the sequel.  The rest of Skyline still entertains like it should, and by “should” I mean “should not feel like a waste of $4.75 at the matinee showing on a Friday afternoon.”  (Read io9’s interview with the directors, Colin and Greg Strause, to get a feel for the movie if you don’t already know what it’s about.)  While the Strause brothers fail to reshape the alien-attack genre, they did tinker with some details to good effect.  Given their pedigree, though—they’ve worked in the FX department on just about every alien/monster movie you can think of—it would be difficult for them to come up with something completely new because they’ve seen just about everything.

As with most of these sci-fi action thrillers, the visuals are the biggest draw.  The aforementioned interview explains that the Strauses concerned themselves mostly with making the aliens look different and giving them a different modus operandi.  They succeed partially.  The different aliens within the “species” draw from many designs: the Independence Day party-poopers, the Cloverfield monster, The Matrix squiddies, and the exploratory devices from the new War of the Worlds.  The invading hordes in Skyline appear much more organic than your normal extraterrestrial expeditionary force, though, with even the mother ships taking on the look of a tangled, knotted, undefined organ.  The “ground troops” have some anthropomorphic features, but they’re twisted to make them more viscerally repulsive.  Oh, and they use tentacles.  Lots of tentacles.  This makes it easier to pluck individual humans out of their hidey-holes when they aren’t being vacuumed up by the thousands.  The movie delivers one of its genuinely surprising and stomach-turning moments when the viewer discovers, graphically, exactly what the aliens want with so many humans.  (We still don’t know the “why,” however.)

To be honest, there’s not much more to say.  Skyline throws in a couple pointless subplots and the requisite “acting” (running, screaming, snarling—did you expect something else?), but stays mostly within its tightly-contained alien-invasion comfort zone.  It’s interesting to note that, with a reported production budget of only $10,000,000 to $30,000,000, the film achieves the look of a much more expensive movie, with the nit-picky exception of the slightly jerky movements of some of the aliens as seen through a telescope, anyone who has used any of the Best Telescopes Under $200 will know that they could of done better.  The special effects are quite well-done, especially the scenes with a mothership undestroying itself and crushing some human hopes.

Skyline delivers exactly what the viewer paid for.  It doesn’t shatter alien-invasion movie conventions, but what it does, it does well.  Had the directors lopped off the last seven or so minutes and made the ballsy decision to leave humanity without hope, we’d be talking differently about this movie.  Instead, we get something not terribly special, but enjoyable most of the way through.

  1. November 19, 2010 10:36 am

    What? No mention of Turk’s performance?


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