Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Skyline (DVD Review)


Image: Courtesy Alliance Films, Legal Line: © 2010 Black Monday Film Services, LLC. All rights reserved.

Dir: Colin Strause & Greg Strause (AVPR: Aliens vs Predator - Requiem)
Cast: Eric Balfour, Donald Faison, David Zayas, Scottie Thompson, Brittany Daniel
USA, 2010

Reason to see: Science fiction is always a yes, as are films with Eric Balfour

I was looking forward to Skyline for quite a while, because once you stack up that it's science fiction, it's looked like it had epic proportions and scale and I'm a big fan of Eric Balfour (Six Feet Under, Haven), but overall, this film was a bit of a mess. It really, really was. I wanted to like it, I truly did, but it just kept getting messier and messier.

To be fair, the action and effects are good - well, better than good, they are great in it of themselves. There are a couple interesting and innovative ideas in their as well. But, the overall idea is pretty thin and the characters are really thin. Normally for big action it can be okay to have thin characters, but here the audience really is suppose to empathize with the characters and experience the fear of an alien invasion through them, and I just didn't feel like that was happening. Plus, the female characters left a lot to be desired, and it’s weird because it’s as not bad as films with rampant gender crap or offensive remarks, but here the the female characters for so much of the time they never did anything. And I was like “why are they even there?” It just seemed so ridiculous as they were not flushed out at all. The male characters weren't totally flushed out but you knew why they were doing what they were doing, what their motivations and relationships were, but not so much with the women.

It certainly danced the line of showing us stuff that looks cool without always knowing what we were looking at or why, which in a weird way made it continue to be entertaining but never more entertaining than it was disappointing. We get just a handful of science fiction films every year, so when one doesn’t met expectations it hurts just that much more. Even so, I know I’d easily watch it again because I’m a sucker for science fiction and I’ll take what I can get! But I don't think it's going to win anyone new over to the genre, and if you want to see it for just the effects that is likely the best viewpoint to go with to see Skyline.

DVD Extras:
  • Feature Commentary with directors Greg and Colin Strause Wow, this commentary really interesting as they detail not only the effects and ideas in the film but also tons of creative ways they kept it low budget (which you totally can't tell because it looks so slick!), it wasn't always easy to tell who was who though when they are chatting, and there is a fair amount of tech-speak in terms of the effects but also lots on the ideas, choices and battle of the film and the film making process including the shots that really didn't want to see get into the trailer but made it in. I appreciated the film so much more after listening this commentary.
  • Feature Commentary with co-writer/producer Liam O'Donnell and co-writer Joshua Cordes this commentary is more idea and effects-centric commentary, which also notates and discusses influences and also offers interesting insights into the characters. This commentary actually shed some light on one of my qualms with the film, which was that the female characters didn't feel like they had much to do in the film and also chat about scenes that made it into the trailer that felt spoilery.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes (7 Scenes, 6 Minutes) with optional commentary by directors Greg and Colin Strause, co-writer/producer Liam O'Donnell and co-writer Joshua Cordes from cut cameo scenes, the importance of the scenes, reason for cuts and discussion about different versions of the film in relation to the scenes. Actually quite a few nice scenes in here, especially with Eric Balfour.
  • Alternate Scenes (2 Scenes, 2 Minutes) with optional commentary by directors Greg and Colin Strause, co-writer/producer Liam O'Donnell and co-writer Joshua Cordes on scenes that were aligned to different versions or show different decisions/character motivations, interesting scenes here that show interesting insights and great moments with the characters
  • Pre-Visualization (2 Scenes, 10 Minutes) with optional commentary by co-director Colin Strause, co-writer/producer Liam O'Donnell and co-writer Joshua Cordes, these were really cool to watch these segments and see how they structured out the sections are in terms of the blocking and battles, and it's interesting to hear the reactions to the roughness of the animation, the moments that were changed or didn't make it into the film, influences, and discussion on how helps streamline the process to have these done ahead of time
  • Trailers - teaser trailer and full theatrical trailer with optional commentary by co-director Colin Strause, co-writer/producer Liam O'Donnell and co-writer Joshua Cordes. It's actually really cool to hear the insight here on the creation of the trailers, choices, agreement or non-agreement on choices, the tagline, with even hilarious 'spoiler' call outs for the big spoiler moments in the full trailer.
Skyline is available on DVD as of March 22, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I was disappointed with it, but still enjoy watching it
I'd watch it again
I'd recommend to science fiction fan

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© Shannon Ridler, 2010-2011
See also review theatrical release review - December 26, 2010

1 comment:

Ray said...

This movie was pretty good I do agree with some things you said in the review. The women in the movie could have had more interaction and you would really think that the guys would be trying to do more other than just panicking. Usually in situations of extreme stress in a group someone takes charge but it didn’t really feel like anyone did. The effects and action were more than enough to redeem the characters shortfalls. I work at Dish Network and I watch a ton of movies. I had actually ordered this movie on Dish Online because I don’t get out to the movies very often. I like this movie it has some unique things that a lot of other movies don’t so I would recommend watching it.

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