'Skyline' (dir: The Brothers Strause, 2010), Cert: 15
Alien invasion films are hardly a new phenomenon; in fact, creatures and robots from other worlds have lived in cinema practically since its installation. However, nowadays, it’s all about the money and the CGI to make a convincing alien picture, and they don’t come cheap. From Steven Spielberg’s ‘War of the Worlds’ ($132 Million) to James Cameron’s alien planet movie ‘Avatar’ ($237 Million), it’s clear Hollywood throw big bucks at these movies. So you’d guess that 2010s alien adventure would cost a similar price too right? Wrong. In fact, the Brothers Strause’s latest ‘Skyline’ cost a measly $10 Million and it’s a CGI festival; so it begs the question, can you still make a decent alien film with some spare change?
‘Skyline’ is set in Los Angeles and follows a group of friends who have just had a huge party. They are woken during the early hours of the morning to an incredibly bright blue light. The light is appearing all across the area and it is coming from space ships floating in the skyline. The beams cause human skin to cripple and burn, and it causes a blindness which controls your body, forcing you into abduction. The group now have to protect one another and find a way out of Los Angeles, or stay in hiding and hope they can survive the alien threat.
Firstly, the good news; considering this film was made for next to no money, the CGI is just incredible. The space ships, the aliens and the mayhem that goes with them is brilliantly made and executed. It makes you wonder why so many other movies spend 10 or 15 times as much as this movie on their effects when really, in the right hands, a little can go a long way.
Unfortunately, the good news ends there. In fact, everything else about ‘Skyline’ is utterly terrible. The script is tedious, repetitive and sour, the performances are excruciatingly bad (it stars Donald Faison, more commonly known as Turk from ‘Scrubs’) and considering the film only lasts 92 minutes, it feels like 4 hours long. This film is being called a mixture of ‘Independence Day’, ‘Cloverfield’ and ‘War of the Worlds’, if you have seen any of these three films, you’ve already seen a 10 times better movie than this.
‘Skyline’ doesn’t want to break the mould; it just wants to be a stagnant film in an already dying genre. There are two points in the film when I thought something new and original would come along but it didn’t, it stayed exactly the same throughout. It also leads its audience to believe it’s going to end, but then another 35 minutes of film continue, and that feels more like another 2 hours. This film doesn’t make you feel annoyed or angry; it’s actually quite laughable at how awful it is. I just thought it might try and bring something new to this kind of filmmaking; a breath of fresh air, but all I saw was a cheap and poor imitation of ‘Independence Day’.
So no, I don’t think you can make a decent alien film on such a small budget; not because of the issues regarding the CGI but because you need the money to cast far better actors and hire miles better writers and producers.
I think cinema goers actually needed ‘Skyline’ however, because it proves the point that no matter how beautiful and spectacular a film may look, if it lacks a decent narrative and a collection of characters that you actually care for, you will never make a successful feature.
‘Skyline’ is a real shame of a movie that tries to cover up the tragedy that it is with some exquisite computer imagery.
Verdict: 1 out of 5 – It make look incredible on the outside, but ultimately, this movie is rotting on the inside. Totally awful.
By Chris Haydon