Director    Colin Strause, Greg Strause
Starring    Eric Balfour, Donald Faison, Scottie Thompson, Brittany Daniel, David Zayas
Release    14 NOV (US) 14 NOV (UK)    Certificate 15
2 stars


14th November 2010

Take a generous scoop of Independence Day, a hearty dollop of War of The Worlds, a pinch of Cloverfield and a sprinkling of every other sci-fi film you can think of and what do you end up with? Skyline - a slapdash alien invasion movie directed by a poor man's Wachowski Brothers that's big on visual effects but small on everything else.

Jarrod (Eric 'I had a small part in 24' Balfour) and his girlfriend, Elaine (Scottie 'I've been in CSI' Thompson) come to Los Angeles to celebrate his best friend Terry's (Donald 'Turk from Scrubs' Faison) Birthday. But after a heavy night of partying LA style, strange bright lights, caused by extraterrestrial crafts, descend upon the city, drawing people out like moths to a flame. And before you can say 'I've seen this before', alien creatures start running amok in the city, threatening to harvest all of mankind.

Visual Effects whizz kids, Colin and Greg Strause, otherwise pretentiously known as 'The Brothers Strause', can brag an impressive CV, with the likes of Titanic and Avatar taking pride of place. Think of a big visual effects-driven movie and it probably appears on it somewhere.

[gallery]It's the area marked 'films we've directed' however that needs a little work, with the abysmal Alien Vs Predator: Requiem as their only credit thus far. But after dipping into their own wallets and financing their second movie without any studio assistance, meaning complete control over everything, they were hoping to give their directing career the kick up the arse it sorely needs. It hasn't worked. Get back behind your computers, geeks!

Coming in at a mere $10-$20 million, with principle filming amounting to a modest $500,000, this is a visually stunning affair for such little cash (by James Cameron standards anyway), boasting some of the most impressive effects of the year. But when that's what you specialise in, you wouldn't expect anything less. It's a shame then that a little bit more money didn't find its way to the writers' desk or to the casting agents.

With a cast made up of semi-known small screen stars, an iffy script, paper-thin characters and debatable plagiarism, there's an aura of TV movie about it. There's a whiff of subplot about Terry - a successful visual effects artist (a pompous self nod by the directors perhaps?) - wanting to get Jarrod to work with him but that ultimately goes nowhere.

Whilst watching, why not play a little game I call, 'Spot That Movie Influence'. The beginning is a little Cloverfield and then it goes all War of Worlds. But the obvious influence is Independence Day. Huge alien ships breaking through clouds all over the world? Check. Man vs. alien aerial dogfight? Check. Christ, some of the aliens even look like their ID4 counterparts, whilst Eric Balfour starts having a fist fight with one of them. It's as if the brothers remembered Will Smith's famous alien punch and thought 'hmmm, how can we make that better?' Roland Emmerich should get in touch with his lawyers.

Nevertheless, seeing much of the population of LA get sucked up into the alien craft is quite the impressive sight. But even still, we saw this in the trailers, on the posters and in all the promotion for the film, so it's not much of a surprise. When we finally see it, it's all just a bit (*shrugs shoulders*) meh, who cares.

So, Skyline is a substandard Independence Day knock-off and a prime example of style over substance, with the special effects outweighing everything else, even Eric Balfour's overdramatic acting. Give it a couple of years and you might catch it on the Syfy Channel. Colin, Greg, leave the directing to the big boys, know your place, respect your elders and stick to what you're good at.

Follow us on Twitter @The_Shiznit for more fun features, film reviews and occasional commentary on what the best type of crisps are.
We are using Patreon to cover our hosting fees. So please consider chucking a few digital pennies our way by clicking on this link. Thanks!

Share This