Review: The lights and punches of Skyline

Skyline is a fun thriller, but it doesn’t deliver in every category.

Skyline follows a small group of young people as they attempt to put the pieces together during a mysterious extra-terrestrial attack. The Protagonists are visiting a friend in LA when strange light begin to drive people out into the streets, and up into the ships of the strange beings.

Very few of the characters are likeable or relatable from the start. The debuacherous carousing and immature antics during the overture of the film make the characters seem more like silly party-kids than anything else, making any initial connection to them difficult.

The pregnancy of one of the characters revealed as a surprise to the other characters in the beginning seems at first a groan-worthy plot device.

Once the conflict begins in earnest, however, the surviving characters begin to shine. Eric Balfor plays well the conflicted survivor, torn between the guilt and sadness at the loss of his friends, and the need to move on and help protect those who remain. His character slowly grows along-side the elements of danger, and by the end has become a fully realized hero with the strength and spirit the story needs.

At the mid-point the story changes quickly from a tale of terror and regret to one of survival, sacrifice, and spirit. When the film finally presents its resolution, it stirs well the feelings of hopelessness and grand challenge upon which the climax revolves. At the same time however, the resolution itself is far too passive.

The little charm that this movie finds itself with comes from the back-seatedness of the characters’ involvement in the story. The film sticks to the point of view of the few survivors it has chosen with outstanding myopia. Technically, this is bad story-telling, but it works for this tale in that it makes such a point on it.

When the Air Force attacks the alien mothership, and a single, probably pluck and heroic pilot survives to the end of the battle to sacrifice himself in a final push, we get only to watch from afar, knowing nothing about the pilot, his past, even his face.

Most films would have taken the time to develop this as a side-plot, giving the audience another point of view to work from, but Skyline instead takes the time to specifically shut us out of such events, forcing us to take a spectator’s role in the larger conflict, just as the protagonists themselves must do.

The visual effects for the alien creatures and everything else are outstanding. The design of the creatures is top-notch, and there only very few moments when the illusion is broken.

The combat is handled very well, and the violent images aren’t gratuitous. The perpetual destruction of the environment is convincing, but there are perhaps too few locations.

So, in the final tally, the characters of Skyline are a bit shallow, and the focus of the film may seem strange to some, but, if nothing else, it is an interesting idea, and well executed for what it is. As long as you avoid considering it a piece of genuine cinema, and view it more as a higher budgeted version of one of SyFy’s television thrillers, it’s worth picking up.

Skyline is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Universal Studios.