Skyline the over-hyped science fiction Alien invasion picture opened this weekend and was expected with all its big-buck advertising campaigns to do quite well. Rather it seems that Megamind, the animated tale of a big-brained baddie with a secretly soft heart, is going to reign supreme for the second week in a row. Skyline, meanwhile, will compete for ticket buyers with Denzel Washington's runaway-train action movie, Unstoppable, which also opens this weekend. Skyline leapt out of Comic-Con with a surprising buzz, a film no one had really heard about that, after the convention, was firmly on the fanboy radar. Universal has since taken a gamble and declined to screen the movie for the media, choosing to let the fans themselves decide if the flick is a worthy addition to the alien-invasion genre. A few critics, though, managed to sneak into advance screenings. The reviews, thus far, are pretty bad.
"Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and his girlfriend Elaine (Scotty Thompson) visit Los Angeles to stay with his successful best friend Terry (Donald Faison) in a luxurious high-rise apartment. Beams of light strike down on the city, vast alien machines and creatures appear, and Jarrod — who has just learned that Elaine is pregnant — decides that his family will survive." — Kim Newman, Empire Online.
"There's no denying that the aliens themselves are impressive creations: first as they descend from the sky in giant, bio-mechanic ships that emit an oddly beautiful blue light to lure their prey outside before vacuuming them off the face of the Earth; later as they break off into smaller life-forms (some resemble floating octopi, while others are hammer-headed juggernauts that hulk and pounce) to hunt down the few remaining survivors who've managed to resist the hypnotizing glow. What [directors Colin and Greg Strause] have achieved effects-wise, from the home base of their Los Angeles studio Hydraulx, is truly stellar given the budget; these are, for the most part, top-notch visuals to rival those of any big-studio film." — Chris Eggertsen, Bloody Disgusting
"The survivors of those first abductions bicker [about] whether to hunker down or make a break for it. Time passes through time-lapse photography as they hide out. They watch a lot of what transpires through a spotting scope through the windows of Terry's penthouse. That's indicative of why 'Skyline' is an epic fail of a monster movie. There's no urgency, no close-contact immediacy to it. The group starts as a sextet, shrinks to a quartet, adds a couple of people, loses a couple more. And we don't care for an instant about any of them, don't identify with them and don't try to reason their way out of this hopeless mess with them. That neck-up style of acting so suited to TV doesn't work in a movie where you're dealing with the unfathomable. The characters, like the viewer, are simply bystanders — observers of a special effects battle between Stealth fighter bombers and Predator drones and alien squid ships and their offspring. Thus, 'Skyline' plays like an effects guru's resume reel, not a movie." — Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel
The Comparison to Other Alien Flicks
"Beyond the dazzling 'first contact' sequences seen in the trailers, 'Skyline' is a spasmodic and incoherent shambles hampered by an astoundingly stupid screenplay. Burdened also by unspeakably bad Syfy channel dialogue and dreadful acting, it culminates in a risible finish that, incredibly, seems to be setting up a sequel. Sci-fi fans transfixed by the brilliant blue light from the invading spaceships in those tantalizing trailers should swarm multiplexes on opening but business will drop off steeply once it becomes clear that 'Skyline' is neither a clever 'District 9' twin nor even a cut-rate 'War of the Worlds'/'Independence Day' mash-up. It's a wannabe epic, but make no mistake: this is strictly B-movie fare, punched up by some occasionally inspired imagery." — Megan Lehmann, The Hollywood Reporter
The Low Down
"'Skyline,' for all its 'let's put on a show' low-budget gumption, doesn't have the storytelling skills or the basic narrative fundamentals to make any of the flashy mayhem (or mundane human drama) compelling in the slightest. Instead, computer-generated doo-dads zip across the screen without much dazzle, employing the workmanlike sizzle of a top-shelf video game. For all its sizzle, it doesn't mean a damn thing." — Drew Taylor, The Playlist