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2.5 stars
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Overall Grade
2.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
1 Stars
HD Video Quality
3 Stars
HD Audio Quality
4.5 Stars
Supplements
2.5 Stars
High-Def Extras
0 Stars
Bottom Line
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Skyline

Street Date:
March 22nd, 2011
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
March 8th, 2011
Movie Release Year:
2010
Studio:
Universal
Length:
94 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Can we all agree that the siblings who egotistically refer to themselves as The Brothers Strause should stick to visual effects, and should never ever get behind the camera to direct another movie? After 'Alien vs. Predator: Requiem' we should have learned our lesson. Yet, Strause's were again allowed to run free with another alien movie, though this time a somewhat original idea. I say "somewhat" because I'm pretty sure they said, "Hey 'Signs' was a pretty cool movie, but it didn't have nearly enough explosions. What if we took that same idea and dumbed it down. That would work right?" Work, it does not. 'Skyline' is a helpless mess of a narrative packed into a movie that collapses under its own nonsensical weight.

Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and his girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson) are headed out to Los Angeles to visit Jarrod's best friend. Terry (Donald Faison) has become famous, and now wants Jarrod to move to L.A. so the two can hang out and live the high life. Terry lives in a huge, modern penthouse suite, complete with views of smoggy L.A. Ahhhhh.....

Pulling out the old dramatic situation playbook 'Skyline' institutes some of the good old fallbacks for drama, including Jarrod's girlfriend breaking the news to him that she's pregnant. Another separate, unnecessary storyline involves Terry cheating on his girlfriend with his assistant. Why is this even mentioned? Beyond the fact that they discuss it for around thirty seconds, there's absolutely no reason this storyline needs to be included. All it does is blatantly show the ineptitude of The Brothers Strause and the movie's writers (Joshua Cordes and Liam O'Donnell) when it comes to creating interesting characters.

To call this movie's dialogue stilted is an insult to stilts everywhere. Unless we're talking coffee can stilts I suppose. If there were an Autotune machine for the movie industry, this is the dialogue it would spew forth. Nothing these people say resonates at all. They're all utterly one-dimensional.

Oh yeah, I'm forgetting about the aliens. Admit it. You have been saying to yourself this whole time, 'well at least if the alien scenes are cool I can deal with a cookie-cutter movie full of clichés.' That was my thought process too.

Early on in the movie, blue lights start dropping from the sky and hitting the ground, entrancing any humans that look at them. Like bugs attracted to a giant bug zapper, hapless victims walk to their doom and then are sucked up vacuum style into the floating behemoths above. Terry, Jarrod and the rest of the crew watch all of this happening from the penthouse suite of their apartment building. Taking the idea of the superb 'Signs' to dreadfully new lows, we watch as a band of civilians witness their world being torn to shreds.

I must admit that some of the alien scenes are neato, but the rest of the movie is so ridiculous that it hardly makes up for some sparse alien action. The aliens are apparently the zombies of the universe as they harvest people's brains and eat them. As you may have guessed the encounter that Jarrod had with the light, but not being sucked into ship has changed him. He's been infected with something. Does this come into play later in the movie? You betcha! With what amounts to one of the most ludicrous endings I've seen in quite sometime, 'Skyline' made me convulse with laughter. I kept saying "No, they aren't actually going to do that! They can't. That'd just be too stupid." But, they did. They went there. At least the movie never made me angry while watching it, instead I laughed the whole way through.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'Skyline' hovers onto Blu-ray with a 1080p image helped along with an AVC encode. This is a murky, altogether hazy affair.

Interior scenes are practically devoid of anything approaching fine detail. Softness persists throughout the movie. Indoors, faces never take on any sort of detailed look. Instead they're just soft blobs of flesh without much resolution at all. Colors are murky and dim. Skintones hardly ever approach anything close to natural, except on the very few occasions that the characters find themselves outside under the L.A. sun. Even then their tones burn too hot, and whites appear way overblown. Blacks are never deep and satisfactory. Blatant crushing persists throughout the movie obscuring faces and any detail that was otherwise there. All in all, the indoor scenes appear to have the same smog problem that L.A. has. Most of those scenes are nearly unwatchable. Backgrounds lack depth and dimensionality. The nighttime party scene is terrible with its constant lens flares from the tiny lights in the bushes in the background. They take over the scene and make the whole thing look like it's being invaded by pulsating yellow lines.

The special effects of floating ships and towering, lumbering space trolls are pretty well done and don't appear too fake in HD. There are times, as when Jarrod hacks away at an alien arm with an axe that you can obviously tell was digitally inserted, but most of the special effects look well done. The aerial shots of L.A. are also handled well, sporting the best blacks of the movie by far.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The audio fares much, much better here. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track features some dynamite sound that will, at times, test the limits of your sound system.

LFE is a constant force and rumbles its way through the entire movie from the pounding footsteps of the troll-like monsters to the roar of the F-16s that fly into battle overhead this bass doesn't quite, ever. Surrounds are alive with action, particularly alien vessels and their wavy tentacle arms search around apartments for signs of human life. The clicking, and whirring of their machinery passes from one end of the soundfield to the other using seamless pans. It all works together to create an extremely immersive listening environment. Dialogue is intelligible and comes through the center and front channels pristinely. My one complaint is that it seems like the movie has some bad ADR dubs. There are times where voices sound like they don't exactly match the way the actors are acting at that time. It's easy to pinpoint it while you're watching the movie. Someone will be acting in a somewhat dramatic scene, but their voice comes along a bit too loud and flat sounding like the ADR just wasn't recorded and mixed properly.

All in all, this is actually a rocking soundtrack. Pretty much the only redeeming value of this entire disc.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Audio Commentaries — If the movie couldn't get any worse The Brothers Strause provide a commentary, which basically amounts to a whine-fest from the siblings as the lament the fact that their movie was blasted by critics. They get on their high horse and announce in smugness that nobody actually "got" what they were going for. Nope, more like your movie is actually really bad. It's just bad guys. Sorry. Another commentary that's provided features the co-writers of this travesty Joshua Cordes and Liam O'Donnell who revel in their self-imposed glory that 'Skyline' should be considered a wonderful B-movie. Sorry, again dudes. A B-movie still has to be enjoyable. Yours is not. If you're looking for some goods laughs, wondering how these filmmakers could possibly defend this movie, with vigor no less, then you must listen to these tracks.

  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD, 6 min.) — Seven deleted scenes in all. Optional commentary from the Strauses and writers Cordes and O'Donnell are provided if you want to hear them talk about why certain scenes were cut. A bunch of throw-away scenes that would have never made the movie better.

  • Alternate Scenes (HD, 2 min.) — Two alternate scenes are included here "Candice Sorry" and "Oliver's Backstory". Even though these are "alternate" scenes they really are just deleted scenes. More pontificating from the filmmakers about how they needed to cut certain things out to make their characters better. You have to wonder, if they really think that their characters are well done.

  • Pre-Visualization (HD, 10 min.) — More commentary from the filmmakers is included here too if you want. These are basically CGI rough drafts of the two scenes – the pool scene and the rooftop rescue scene – where the most special effects were needed.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

There are no Blu-ray exclusives included on this disc.

Final Thoughts

Boy is 'Skyline' bad. When people who saw it in the theaters told me it was bad, I didn't want to believe it could be that bad. It had to have some redeeming qualities right? Wrong. From beginning to end The Brothers Strause (I really hate that moniker) fashion an alien invasion tale that is boring, laughable, and completely incoherent. This movie is ripe RiffTrax fodder, that's for sure. Personally I was surprised by the hazy look of this one. Sure there are some good shots, like the aerial footage of L.A. at night, but the majority of the film looks like it was shot in a darkened apartment with fog problem. The audio, however, is at time jaw-droppingly fun. If you're into bad alien flicks, and want a good laugh then rent this one, but never speak of it again. For everyone else, just move along. There's nothing to see here.

Technical Specs

  • BD-50 Blu-ray Disc

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.40:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • French DTS 5.1
  • Spanish DTS 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, French, Spanish

Supplements

  • Commentary by directors Greg and Colin Strause
  • Commentary with co-writer/producer Liam O'Donnell and co-writer Joshua Cordes
  • Deleted, Extended, and Alternate Scenes
  • Pre-viz clips
  • Trailers

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