MOVIE REVIEW | Skyline Image

[Warning: Some mild spoilers.]

If the making of a movie is a series of steps in a long path to the finished product, then the makers of Skyline trod boldly on the first flagstone, took a misstep on the next, stubbed their toes on the third and generally staggered off balance the rest of the way.  The concept is as full of potential as one could want it to be: aliens invade, slaughter and eat the human race while a group of beautiful young people bunker down in an apartment building, fighting for their lives and arguing about what to do next.  Great movies have been based on ideas no more complex than this, but the makers of those movies glided more gracefully along the rest of the production path.

Skyline, though not awful, is not a great movie, nor even a good one.  It displays a respectable technical proficiency which any producer can purchase if his coffers are full.  This and the aforementioned concept are its strongest points.  It lacks artistry in all aspects where technical expertise cannot suffice, and suffers from that mild incoherence which results from underdeveloped and abandoned plot points.

Why take the time to establish that being held in the thrall of the aliens’ hypnotizing light increases one’s physical power, provided one is released before being eaten, if not to make it crucial to the story?  Is this an intended consequence or a side effect, and why should it be either?  Why delve into the particulars of a relationship between characters who aren’t going to matter nor make it far into Act II?  Why make the heroine pregnant if the fact has no greater effect than to make her vomit once or twice and give the hero cause to embrace her?

There are so many simple ways to develop these points and strengthen the plot.  The characters might have exploited the gift of physical strength by purposefully allowing themselves to be hypnotized, a risky and therefore stimulating plan.  Perhaps they might later discover another, more dangerous side effect with which they must contend.  The tribulations of one love triangle might have served as a constant threat to their survival, but it becomes insignificant when two of them die early on.  The hero might have learned of the heroine’s pregnancy at a key moment that alters an important decision.  Another ten minutes spent brainstorming instead of staring at CGI renderings would have benefited this project.

For all that is wrong with it, or underdeveloped, Skyline is not bereft of thrills.  And though the ending starts to encroach on the boundary of the silly and absurd, there are yet some delights, usually early on, when the invasion has started and the characters are trapped inside their building.  Like Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, we get the perspective of the common people.  Absent are generals and presidents.  Though their decisions impact the story, they hit the audience with the same sort of unexpected suddenness as those of the aliens themselves while the little people are caught in the middle.  This restricted viewpoint enhances the experience, such as it is, and I suppose the filmmakers can be commended on that point.

There have been far better science fiction films than Skyline.  God willing, there will be many more superior efforts to come.  However, if the yearning to visit the movie theaters is strong, and the need for some action keen, a moviegoer might part with some money for a Skyline ticket and come away with a mild satisfaction.

2 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

Matthew Bruce Alexander Staff Writer

Matthew is a libertarian living in central Ohio. A graduate of Ohio State University, he majored in Spanish and has published a work of libertarian science-fiction called Wĭthûr Wē.

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