“Skyline” Movie Review

     Colin and Greg Strause, billed as The Brothers Strause, are the special effects whiz kids turned filmmaking duo responsible for the very disappointing “Aliens vs Predator: Requiem.”  Believe me, tell me there is a movie with the famed H.R. Giger creation and not only am I there, I’m sure to like it.  AVP-R just didn’t do it for me and perhaps that was because of the low budget.  If 20th Century Fox really cared about the Alien franchise would they cast a bunch of unknown actors and hand the reigns over to two first time directors?  In their new film “Skyline”, The Brothers Strause are again dealt the same hand.  Not a single actor who’s done better than appearing in a few notable TV shows and an overall paltry budget.  Its as if Universal wants to disguise this film as its fall tent pole, but get around spending what it takes to make a tent pole quality film.

     So here is what we are given in Skyline.  If you’ve seen the trailers and are a fan of Science Fiction, than I suspect you are at least mildly curious.  One of the biggest draws for me is the inclusion of Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. in the effects and creature design department.  These guys go all the way back to “Aliens” and have provided some of the best creature effects and designs in the business.  I suppose getting to spend all of their budget money on effects was the idea here.  I mean, why pay an A-List Star $20 million when that money can go towards some sweet CGI?  Taking things a bit further, The Brothers Strause pulled Skyline off for a mere $10 million!

     The low budget shows as nearly the entire film takes place inside and directly outside of a high rise condo in Los Angeles.  After partying all night, our characters awaken to LA being invaded by an alien race.  By looking out the windows through a telescope, they see thousands of people being exterminated and beamed into numerous large alien space craft.  After a botched escape attempt, all they can do is hide.  I actually thought the cast did an admirable job.  Their dialogue is run of the mill, but they do what you would expect in such an extraordinary circumstance.  Some of them panic, some of them try to be a hero, and others just play it safe.  In the end, there is no hiding and even our countries best defenses can’t defeat the superior alien forces.

     The Strauses actually had me going throughout the film.  I wasn’t sure how it would end and they managed to put together some pretty good action set pieces, especially considering the budget they were working with.  I’m still scratching my head about the ending, but I guess its better than having predicted the ending.  The Strauses get around really having to explain why about anything that happens in the film.  Because it is solely from the perspective of the films main characters who are stuck in a high rise condo, we only know what they see and observe.  What is going on in front of them is obvious but we don’t have the luxury of knowing what the military or government is planning to do.  These types of films usually have some sort of address from the President or something, but our characters are too scared to turn on the TV because its too bright and they don’t want to be detected.  Interesting plot device huh?

     In the end, you may feel this is a smash up of “Cloverfield” with “Independence Day” and “District 9” mixed in and you would be correct.  There’s nothing original here, just a way to spend your afternoon and perhaps again wonder if there is life......out there.  GRADE: C+