Aliens have been invading our cinema screens since the 1950’s. The swell of popularity in science fiction surged into cinemas with movies like The Day the Earth Stood Still and The War of the Worlds capturing peoples awe and attention, entertaining and alarming them in equal measures.
Since then we have seen it all from bombastic flag waving films like Independence Day to satire heavy comedies like Mars Attacks!, socio-political allegories like District 9 to all-out horrors like the extremely underrated and underappreciated Altered and many, many more.
To add to the long list now we have Skyline, an action packed alien invasion horror set in L.A, where the populace awakes to find that we are not alone in the universe and our intergalactic neighbors are sadly not so friendly.
Barricaded in an expensive hotel in the penthouse apartment owned by Terry (Scrubs’ Donald Faison playing it straight), a small group, including Terry’s best friend Jarrod (Horsemen and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remakes Eric Balfour) and his girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson) watch helplessly, trying to come to terms with the arrival of creatures from another planet whose purpose simply seems to be the annihilation of the human race.
Hiding from the mysterious captivating blue light, which the aliens use to capture people and suck them into their spaceship, the group argue over whether they should stay put and delay their inevitable fate or make a break for it and risk being out in the open. Choosing the latter, they head out for the streets but what awaits them is a world in chaos and far more frightening than they could have imagined.
Following the usual format for this sort of storyline, Skyline interestingly opens by jumping straight into the action, as the group awake to the creepy blue light which hypnotically draws them into the alien’s evil clutches. Disappointingly we then flash-back 15 hours for 15 minutes or more of character set up which is neither convincing nor necessary. Ultimately, it makes the film look more like a rap video or teen TV drama than a invasion epic.
Added to this miss-start, the real misfire of the film is the central characters who seem to have been created to appeal to a certain audience demographic rather than fit in with the storyline. The actors try their best, but set against such examples as the lovable misfit family from The Host – who manage to completely entrance the viewer’s sympathy and empathy, the young good looking L.A types found here alienate the audience more than the aliens do.
All that said Skyline does balance action packed set piece scenes with unsettling tense moments, all with a heavy dose of Sci-Fi fun and directing team The Brothers Strause do a competent job helming.
The techno-organic aliens may resemble a cross between Cloverfield, The Matrix and The Mist but they are amazingly realised, and the special effects scenes are excellent, unsurprising considering The Brothers Strause own and work as part of Hydraulx Filmz a company which has generated visual effects for many major movies including Avatar, 2012 and Battle: Los Angeles another alien invasion film set in L.A.
It is honest to say that in many ways Skyline harks back to the B-Movie Sci-Fi horror of the 1950’s (especially when you discover what it is the aliens want us for!), as an entertaining alien invasion story which wont win any prizes for originality but will keep you gripped by the action and impressed by the effects.
It also has a mildly intriguing ending, and with The Brothers Strause insisting that they will film a sequel with their own money perhaps part 2 can deliver on the plot and characters where part 1 failed.