Skyline vs. Battle: Los Angeles: The Real Truth
Movies often come in pairs, but in the case of Skyline and Battle: Los Angeles, it is more than just mere coincidence. Much has been made about the similarities between the two alien invasion films, most notably that when the Aaron Eckhart-starring Battle: Los Angeles debuted in theaters this March, many critics and moviegoers asked, "Didn't this same movie get released last fall?"
The movies share more than just a similar premise and location (both are set in Los Angeles). The Strause brothers, directors of the independently financed Skyline, are also the owners of visual effects company Hydraulx Filmz - a company that contributed to the visual effects of Battle: Los Angeles.
In fact, Sony considered or is still considering suing the Strause brothers for not only ripping off their ideas, but preceding their much-more-expensive film by several months and possibly using studio resources to polish their own film.
Regardless, having just watched Skyline on DVD this week, it's perfectly clear Battle: Los Angeles received a bad rap for unfair comparisons to Skyline. Other than sharing a setting and visual effects company, the two films have very little in common. Oh, and Skyline is absolutely dreadful.
Battle: Los Angeles wasn't a great movie. But it was a fun movie, an exciting one at that. Its plot was simple - too simple for the average critic - but it was simultaneously straightforward and with purpose.
Skyline is none of those things.
In Skyline, a couple has traveled to Los Angeles to visit a friend. That night, a series of blue lights drop into the city; anyone who looks at the lights are drawn to them and sucked into a spaceship. As the friends watch helplessly from their penthouse suite, they realize the invasion has only just begun and that menacing creatures are coming door to door to collect humans.
Unlike Battle: Los Angeles, which was a very militaristic, goal-oriented picture, Skyline is told from the perspective of regular, rather helpless civilians. The movie is spent almost entirely within the confines of a condominium building, albeit with plenty of special effects shots and alien action. It's a survival film, and not a very good one.
Skyline features a bunch of B-grade actors, headlined by Eric Balfour (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and Donald Faison ("Scrubs"). If you thought the character development in Battle: Los Angeles was bad, it's downright pitiful in Skyline. None of the characters are remotely interesting or likable, nor do the directors give us the opportunity to warm up to them.
The movie is purely about visual effects and action, but not very compelling action. The visual effects are generally good albeit inconsistent, but it's the action where the Strause brothers really struggle; Skyline is proof that just because you have the skills to make something look pretty doesn't mean you have the knack to helm a movie (another case in point: Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem).
Skyline jumps from one action scene to the next with little intrigue or setup; there's little sense of dread or awe despite what's happening on screen. By the time the climax comes around, the audience has been pounded into submission by an ungodly number of slow motion shots and pointless alien attacks.
The movie's ending is unique but absolutely dreadful. Words cannot describe how after an hour and a half of stupidity the Strause brothers manage to one-up themselves with their off-the-wall (and depressing) conclusion.
Battle: Los Angeles wasn't perfect, but it was entertaining. Skyline is like its mutated, red-headed stepchild that somehow escaped from the attic. It is a stupid, poorly written and dull alien invasion film with a terrible ending and no purpose whatsoever.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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