Those pesky aliens! It seems they just can’t help themselves. For every E.T that just wants to cross dress and go for bike rides with small children, there seems to be countless others who make the intergalactic trip with the sole intent of blowing up our major landmarks and harvesting our organs for dinner. This month’s new sci- fi release Skyline features a group of tentacled visitors who fit firmly into the latter category. Written, produced, and directed by ‘The Brothers Strause’, the film tells the story of an alien invasion from the perspective of a group of survivors trapped inside the penthouse apartment of a California condo. Their lives are changed forever when giant spaceships appear over every major city in the world, emitting a bright blue light that draws anyone who sees it into the open, where they are rapidly sucked up into the mother ship and parted from their tasty brains by the seemingly indestructible invaders.
Last year, Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 offered a new outlook on the alien invasion genre. With heavy references to apartheid, prejudice and media manipulation, Blomkamp managed to mix comedy and drama while telling a story that was incredibly well formed. But unlike District 9, Skyline brings absolutely nothing new to the genre, and has nothing of value to say to its viewers. The script is atrocious and filled with those terrible “we have to survive” clichéd speeches, which are only tolerable in films if a shark jumps up and eats someone immediately after they have delivered said speech. The characters are two dimensional, and more often than not it is actually quite a relief to watch them die. The scary parts aren’t that scary, and the exciting parts aren’t that exciting. The whole thing has the inescapable feel of a B-movie with a bit of a budget, but that’s because it is a B-movie with a bit of a budget.
Costing a meagre $10 million to make, Colin and Gregg Strause financed the film without the aid of a major studio. Furthermore, the majority of the film was shot on location at the condo where Gregg resides. Despite the special effects that fill almost every shot, Skyline serves as a good example of low budget film making and for this The Brothers Strause do deserve some credit. This is only the second film directed by the duo. Before directing the atrocious Alien vs. Predator: Requiem they had spent well over a decade producing visual effects for television and Hollywood blockbusters. It is clear that this is what they are best at, the spaceships and alien creatures in Skyline are fantastically designed and realised, it’s just the humans that seem fake. There are a few good ideas in Skyline, but none of them are executed well enough to redeem it. Put simply, Skyline is nonsense that takes itself a bit too seriously for its own good. If you really do want to watch it, why not wait until it turns up on Channel Five, which in all honesty, is where it belongs.
Review by Elliot Hyams