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Some action movies have to be taken for what they are -- glorious ‘splosion porn that exist simply to sate our hunger for destruction. These movies are easy, generally cheap, and people will go see them because on Saturday night no one wants to think about a story, they just want to look at something pretty and/or exciting. Enter Skyline and the Brothers Strause, who waste no time letting the audience know that they won’t be getting any aesthetic pleasure from Skyline. Instead, you will be left scratching your head, wondering how a film about aliens eating every living being on the planet could be so lifeless.
Skyline starts with the standard “aliens are here and they’re doing bad stuff” trope, and refuses for a very long hour and a half to layer anything else on top of that. It never deviates from that course, it never does anything different, but it bafflingly managed to land itself a $10 million budget and a big-screen release. The pitch meeting must have been one hell of a spectacle, because the movie sure isn’t.
It’s not that Skyline merely fails. It fails so wildly on so many levels that it’s barely even a film worth heckling as you struggle to find the end credits. It’s no shock that directors Colin and Greg Strause (who arrogantly and idiotically refer to themselves as "The Brothers Strause") failed to produce anything worth watching after their first bomb, Aliens Versus Predator: Requiem, but the acting talent on screen, actors who generally get the job done, fall so heavily on their faces that reconstructive surgery would scarcely make them recognizable. Eric Balfour, Donald Faison, and David Zayas, passable actors all, stumble their way through what has to be the most hackneyed script since, well, AVP:R.
You can’t really blame the actors, though. Everyone who sets foot in front of the camera seems to have been given no direction at all from the Strause brothers, who obviously spent more time with the 3D animators in post-production than they did with their actors on set. None of the characters’ logic seems to be functioning above that of a seventh grader, and frequently that failed logic lands them in a situation stickier than the one they’re already in. On top of that, the cast -- none of whom you ever give a single shit about -- can never seem to find the right emotion for any given scene, or the proper intensity for it. They’re always over-pissed about something menial or not scared enough about something serious. It’s like watching a jealous girl at prom trying to get the attention of a boy she likes, except she’s so fake that the boy (in this case, the audience) never buys what she’s selling and keeps dancing with the prettier girl who will more likely put out at the end of the night.
This all culminates in one of the most straight-to-DVD endings that has ever ventured into theaters. Nothing gets resolved, nothing gets explained, the aliens just do some stuff that the directors obviously “thought would be cool.” Then the film ends with still images that attempt to shed some light on the ending, but succeed only in informing the audience of the exact point in which the production ran out of the money it should never have received in the first place.
You can’t help but feel a little bad for the brothers behind the camera. They come from an impressive visual effects background, both of them having worked on films like Iron Man 2 and even Avatar, but somehow they can’t manage to create proper effects for their own films. Skyline impresses nowhere and entertains only the lowest echelon of filmgoer. It is schlock, but it can’t even be considered schlock for the sake of schlock because it tries too hard to be a human drama rather than an alien-invasion movie. If you need noise, aliens, and explosions, but don’t have any pressing need to understand what’s going on, watch Battle: Los Angeles or Die Hard 4. At least that way you won’t be begging for 90 minutes of your life back.
The Skyline special features list starts and ends with the alternate and deleted scenes, aside from the standard commentary tracks. Unlike many films, whose deleted scenes can feel endless, Skyline’s compilation is mercifully short. Amidst the deleted scenes you’ll find the only good decisions the film makers made -- cutting these scenes out. Just because they were all very short doesn’t mean they weren’t 100% boring and useless. That the Strause brothers removed them is kind of shocking, considering the myriad other bad scenes the brothers left in the movie.
If you’re interested in hearing the directors talk about how the apartment the film was shot in was one of their actual homes, then this commentary is for you. They give you a bit of insight on what filming with a RED camera is like, but for the most part they get really excited about the apartment, and about how many favors they had to call in to get this movie made.
Also mentioned is how much the directors looked up to their executive producer, Brett Ratner, which explains a lot. His experience helped create a perfect storm of awful filmmaking where bad directors came together with bad producers to churn out a gigantic piece of shit.
Skyline has no redeeming qualities. It’s poorly shot, the effects are weak, and the story is as hollow as the characters. This would even be hard to get through if you had a group of friends helping you trash it along the way. The special features add nothing to the worth of the disk, and the feature film certainly isn’t worth the purchase alone. Simply steer clear of Skyline.
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