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Movies Review

Skyline

By
Still from Skyline
Released on Friday, Nov 12 2010

> Interview: Eric Balfour

Filmmaking siblings Colin and Greg Strause made a splash in Hollywood with their visual effects firm Hydraulx, decorating big budget blockbusters such as 300, Fantastic Four and The Day After Tomorrow with CGI spectacle. Their reward was the directing gig on sequel AVPR: Aliens Vs. Predator - Requiem, a movie that simultaneously ran both franchises into the ground and was met with even more derision than its Paul W.S. Anderson-helmed predecessor.

So to Skyline, the brothers' alien invasion follow-up that aims to deliver Hollywood thrills at a trimmed-down cost. The directors produced and financed the movie away from the studios, filming inside Greg's apartment and using Hydraulx to handle the pixels. This indie approach served others well before, but Skyline lacks the stylistic invention of Matt Reeves's Cloverfield or the storytelling finesse of District 9 - the two films that it so closely tries to emulate.

Former 24-star Eric Balfour heads up the cast as Jarrod, a man jetting from New York to LA with girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson) to spend a weekend of hard partying in the company of pal Terry (Donald Faison). As the group's booze-charged night winds down, they drop to sleep as blue beams of light shoot down and people begin to get sucked up into alien ships parked in the sky (as seen in the trailer's closing images). An encounter with the light is best avoided, but when Jarrod survives its eerie draw it transpires that he may hold the key to survival.

The bulk of Skyline takes place within the four walls of Terry's apartment as the group observe the devastation going on outside. They make attempts to break out and head for the coast, but find themselves foiled by the part mechanical, part organic invaders. The Strauses squeeze the action into a three-day time frame, yet the film's still crippled by inertia for the most part as they fail to create any tension within the group or crank up the stakes in the high-rise building. Elaine reveals that she's pregnant and Terry's affair with his assistant Denise (Crystal Reed) boils to the surface as the hours tick by. You'd expect this to generate conflict, but it never rears its head.

As Skyline chugs along to its conclusion (like many action movies it appears to be wrapping up on several occasions only to re-start!) events break from cliché and begin to get gleefully bonkers. The sight of Balfour manically punching an alien over and over (in slooow motiooon) is topped by a finale stationed in the alien mothership. For a moment some gruesome David Cronenberg-style body horror is teased yet, much like the rest of the movie, it doesn't deliver on the promise. Skyline packs some impressive money shots, however with its tracing-paper-thin script there's not enough propping up these whizz-bang set pieces.


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