Plot: Strange lights descend on the city of Los Angeles, drawing people outside like moths to a flame where an extraterrestrial force threatens to swallow the entire human population off the face of the Earth. Among the survivors are a group of friends who must fight for their lives as the world unravels around them.
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Alien invasions. Films like Mars Attacks! (1996) and Independence Day (1996) seemingly played this idea into the ground. With the recent popularity of District 9 (2009), however, the alien invasion idea is suddenly much darker – and refreshed. While District 9 (2009) was more about humanity’s cruelty rather than aliens, the aliens are fighting back in darker films more and more. This is the case with films from Battle: Los Angeles (2011) to the recent Skyline. Would this darker trend turn out decent films? Or should aliens going back to being fodder for action flicks once more?
The cast isn’t spectacular in Skyline…at least not on paper. On screen, however, they manage to do better than expected in the roles they are given. Donald Faison, known for his role in “Scrubs” (TV), turns in a solid performance. So does the normally unimpressive Eric Balfour. David Zayas also puts in a surprisingly good – if brief – appearance. The girls of the film, from Brittany Daniel to Scottie Thompson, are largely ill-used. They are hardly distinguishable from each other in their whimpering damsel-in-distress roles.
Directors Greg & Colin Strause weren’t very impressive with their debut film, Alien vs. Predator – Requiem (2007). Thankfully, they’ve managed to get things together impressively well for their follow-up, Skyline. They focus on four, seemingly normal characters, that the viewer could easily see themselves as. By doing so, the Brothers Strause manage to take the large-scale idea of alien invasion and make it incredibly personal. Presenting the invasion just as the characters see it – without any extra information presented – helps the viewer connect with the characters. After all, the viewers are just as eagerly scraping for the next clue to the reasoning behind the invasion as the characters on-screen. This creates a bond between viewer and character that the Brothers Strause take full advantage of during the course of the film.
Sure, some of the character’s actions are laughable. The most notable example of this is one character’s ridiculous idea to drive out into the open, in a convertible, while aliens zip around overhead. There are also some seemingly over-the-top sequences, but stay tuned as they foreshadow things to come. Despite some dim-witted mistakes, and the seemingly over-done sequences, the film manages to keep the viewer’s attention throughout.
The film works its way gradually toward a conclusion that is both unexpected and, in retrospect, surprisingly well planned. Throughout, the viewer continues to stay confined to the main characters. Therefore, viewers only witness the widespread devastation (or the US’s response to the attack) from afar, just as the characters do.
Probably the worst part of Skyline is its introduction of the characters. Thankfully, once the invasion begins, the viewer will find themselves glued to their seat. They will be waiting with a bit of trepidation for whatever is lurking in the next frame, unable to tear their eyes away until the credits begin to roll. Despite an occasional dim-witted action, the viewer really connects to the characters by sharing their point of view on the invasion taking place around them. This helps provide some shocking surprises along the way too.
Even those of you who aren’t interested in watching another alien invasion flick will find yourself drawn in by Skyline. That’s after the silly character introductions, of course. Be prepared, because you’ll find you just have to sit down and see it through to the end. Trust me, I saw it happen! Check it out for yourself today, and you’ll find yourself engrossed in Skyline too.