Theatrical Review: Skyline

Jarrod and Terry are lifelong friends. Terry’s made a name for himself in some sort of aspect of the entertainment business (it’s really not specified) and is living large in Los Angeles within his penthouse apartment complete with shrew girlfriend and devoted mistress/executive assistant. Jared, hasn’t quite had the same success, he’s struggling as an artist, and has a pregnant girlfriend who’s just a touch on the shrewish side. Anyway, it’s Terry’s birthday and he’s invited Jared to come out to L.A. where he has big things in store for him… though getting caught up in a big-ass flat-out aliens-from-outer-space-invasion wasn’t one of them.

And that’s just what does happen, the aliens land and they ain’t nice. So goes the premise of Skyline, the new movie from The Brothers Strause, special effects guys who previously helmed Aliens Vs. Predators: Requeim. What I describe above are more specifics of the story here, in the bigger picture what this seeks to do is to take ideas from all sorts of bigger alien invasion movies before and tell a smaller side story, though that story does have it’s own unique twist for one of it’s characters. In a way, it kind of puts me in the mind of what you might get if you took a classic Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/Steve Ditko monster/alien comic story from the days of Marvel Comics before they became Marvel Comics, and flashed it all up with today’s technology.

The only thing is, you just don’t give a damn.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are some cool things here. The special effects are brilliant, especially when it comes to giant monster aliens walking the earth. Being a side story for this sort of thing, I thought it was pretty cool that most of the action is confined to a limited location. And it’s final five minutes goes in a direction that I just didn’t see this going in and at least for me saved this, putting it in the lower end of the B-movie scale. This is not a ringing endorsement though to run right out and see this in the theatre.

Where this fails is that you just don’t give a damn about any of the characters. Oh, I suppose if I was a young twenty-something living in Los Angeles who’s successful or semi-successful in the entertainment industry (or who has aspirations for such), I might find these guys as my role models. But no, I’m an older guy who lives in a flyover state, who’s just seen as being too whitebread to have any sort of idea of the bigger world around him.

Now while this is mostly a failing (for me) on the writing side, it doesn’t help that your lead actors don’t have a whole lot of charisma to them. Eric Balfour plays Jarrod and Donald Faison plays Terry. Now I’ve seen. Eric Balfour in a lot of stuff in the past, and tend to think he’s fine in support and character type of work, he just doesn’t give me anything here that makes me want to like him a whole lot. Donald Faison hits me a little better, but not by much, as the more proactive guy. The best of the cast is David Zayas, who plays the manager of the apartment building that Terry lives in. Zayas knows he’s in a B-movie, and certainly plays that to the hilt.

I’ve seen comments on IMDB that calls this the “worst movie ever” and to those that are saying that I just have to say you haven’t seen enough movies. There are far worse out there there than this, and usually they come from bigger budgets with bigger names who get a little too full of themselves and just should know better. Skyline is a B-movie and I don’t think it has aspirations for anything higher, though the pretentious title of “Skyline” doesn’t really help it a lot. It has some good moments, and an even greater over-the-top one at the end, but it’s all hampered by poor characters who I just couldn’t care about whatsoever, and for something like this, you need to care, even just a little bit.

I would recommend seeing this to B-movie fans, but you don’t need to run right out and do it, wait until cable or Netflix Instant Play and give it a go then. Your mileage will still probably vary, but at least you won’t be out the big money cash it takes to go to the theatre to find out.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

14. November 2010 by Darren Goodhart
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