Skyline - DVD Review

'for all its shiny presentation, it just doesn't deliver a plot worth caring about. At some points, it doesn't even deliver shiny presentation worth caring about'

Skyline had a great marketing campaign on its initial cinema release. A tasty trailer with lots of bright blue lights. Decent poster work. An reasonably evocative title. Hell, even the directors got in on the act; re-naming yourselves 'The Brothers Strause' is a hell of a lot cooler and more marketable than simply going with 'A Colin And Greg Film'.

The problem with Skyline is that for all its shiny presentation, it just doesn't deliver a plot worth caring about. At some points, it doesn't even deliver shiny presentation worth caring about. Cunningly edited around in the trailer, most of the film takes place in Terry's (Donald Faison) luxury apartment. Really, Skyline is a single-location thriller with more expensive visual trickery than your average single-location thriller. What this immediately gives the film is the same level of 'why should I care about these people?' that every other microcosm hitherto known to man has had to contend with. Colin and Greg attempt to get round this by flashing back to the night-before-the-terrible-morning-after but by doing so all they manage to create is a series of annoying and twee character moments, which alienate the cast rather than endear them.

The rest of the film becomes a veritable tick box exercise in alien invasion tropes, as the directors scramble for ways to keep their location interesting and their visual cleverness on show. Obvious touchstones include Independence Day, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and Spielberg's War Of The Worlds, from which one scene appears directly lifted. This scene in particular, in an elderly resident's kitchen, shows how mundane Skyline is and how brilliant Spielberg is at making otherwise stock action sequences incredibly exciting. In Spielberg's hands, the scene was an elongated chase around a maze-like basement. In Colin and Greg's hands, its an alien. In a kitchen.

Some scenes do stand out above the otherwise mundane material on offer here. Any 'sweeping vista' shot, particularly those of night-time LA, is beautifully lit and captured by cinematographer Michael Watson, creating a sense of urbanisation, interrupted, which adds to the air of isolation The Brothers Strause try to create. Some of the scenes outside the apartment too are decent, if not revelatory, with an attempted escape through the car park only ruined because we saw part of what happens in the reveal-happy trailer.

Then, the film ends. Do what you will with audiences for the rest of the runtime but if you give them a lame ending, they'll never forgive you. Skyline has both an awful end and an awful coda, the latter of which undermines the great visual effects work that had gone on previously. It again looks to War Of The Worlds for help in revealing the alien's intentions and again completely misses the point in terms of why what worked for that film, doesn't work for this one. A sequel doesn't look as inevitable as it once did, given this film's poor reception but if it was to start from the very end of Skyline then it might well find its way to bargain bins before it goes anywhere near a cinema screen.

Skyline is released in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray on 21st March 2011.

Look further...

'after sitting through an hour of rehashed sci-fi, chances are you won’t even care about the very little they were able to get right' - The Movie Cynics, 3/10


  1. NIce review this of a truly bland film.

    I posted my review yesterday and it seems we both had the same feeling. Bland characters that you really didnt care about. All I wanted by the end was them to be gone and eaten by the squid like alien invaders!!

    Shame really because as you say the trailer made it seem like it was going to be a good show!!

  2. Not the first time we've been over-sold on a film by the trailer I'm afraid. Great marketing. Rubbish product.

  3. It is rather. Some nice scenes but largely just rubbish.