Skyline DVD Review
Directed by Colin Strause and Greg Strause
Written by Joshua Cordes and Liam O'Donnell
2010, Region 2 (PAL), 88 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 21st March 2011
Eric Balfour as Jarrod
Scottie Thompson as Elaine
Brittany Daniel as Candice
Crystal Reed as Denise
Neil Hopkins as Ray
David Zayas as Oliver
Donald Faison as Terry
Oscars season is over and blockbuster season is about to begin, thank goodness, so move over psycho ballet-dancers and stuttering monarchs and make way for effects-laden extravaganzas where explosions are more important than exposition.
Skyline is a refugee from last summer’s big-budget season, now hitting DVD and Blu Ray in the UK. It was reportedly financed by directorial double-team Colin and Greg Strause. All $10.5 million of it. This is independent film-making on a grand scale.
Modest-earning artist Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and his girlfriend Elaine are in LA visiting his lifelong friend Terry. While Jarrod makes an almost-comfortable living, Terry has made it big style in the entertainment industry and lives in a swanky penthouse. After a night of hard partying, the left-over revellers crashing at Terry’s are woken in the early hours by a piercing light. When they look into it they are immediately drawn towards its source: gargantuan alien crafts that are literally sucking each and every human from the face of the planet.
Like any movie of this ilk, it can only be described as big. Big spaceships, big monsters and a big budget. Of the total spend on the film, only $500,000 was allocated to filming, the other $10 million went on visual effects. Unfortunately this shows, and there’s a huge lack of attention to building the story, making the film little more than a 90 minute CGI showcase. Not necessarily a bad thing, but you expect just a little more, even from popcorn entertainment like this.
It’s a fairly typical post-apocalyptic survival story, except the apocalypse is unfolding right in front of the survivors’ eyes. The group goes through all the usual motions of deciding whether to stay and hide or leave and take their chances on the outside. Opting for the latter, they find it’s not the best option as the motherships have deployed ground troops that include tentacled biomechanoids (very reminiscent of the sentinels from The Matrix) and enormous monstroid building bashers.
It’s a very impressive spectacle as buildings fall, things explode and the group runs from place to place in an attempt to survive. They’re whittled down until we’re left with just Jarrod and Elaine trying to evade capture until the inevitable happens. At this point it gives rise to the most hopelessly ridiculous ending imaginable. Had the Brothers Strause chosen to end the film at the point the couple is taken on board the craft, it would have been a suitable finish point. Points are scored for not choosing the route of anyone saving the day, while survivors all punch the air in a united, “America, Fuck Yeah!”, but the note they did choose to end on simply beggars belief.
If you want a quick fix of slick CGI, massive explosions and battles against aliens then give Skyline a whirl, just make sure you switch off about three minutes from the end.
Video and Audio:
The anamorphic 1.78:1 picture is pristine and vivid. There are a number of dark scenes that show no signs of trouble, with nice solid blacks. 5.1 Surround is the only sane choice on the disc for a film like this and it doesn’t disappoint.
There is an abundance of extra features on the disc, including two commentary tracks with either the directors or writers. A number of deleted scenes show what was dropped and some of them could have done with being in the final film for the sake of exposition. These extra scenes also have the option of commentary tracks running alongside. There are some computer generated, pre-visualization storyboards, showing the planning of some of the main action sequences, which are played out with the corresponding soundtrack from the feature. Finally there is the original theatrical trailer and teaser.