DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Skyline Blu-ray Review

Skyline (2010) movie poster Skyline

Theatrical Release: November 12, 2010 / Running Time: 94 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Directors: Greg Strause, Colin Strause / Writers: Joshua Cordes, Liam O'Donnell / Songs List

Cast: Eric Balfour (Jarrod), Scottie Thompson (Elaine), Brittany Daniel (Candice), Crystal Reed (Denise), Neil Hopkins (Ray), David Zayas (Oliver), Donald Faison (Terry Sergeant), Robin Gammell (Walt), Tanya Newbould (Jen), J. Paul Boehmer (Colin)

Buy Skyline on Blu-ray from Amazon.com • Buy Skyline on DVD from Amazon.com

Aliens invading and attacking Earth is not a new concept. That premise pervaded science fiction in the 1950s and drove H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds half a century before that. To this day it's still an idea that people find intriguing; as proof of that, we can look to Battle: Los Angeles, the current #1 movie in America and other parts of the world. There are other examples, several of them high-profile films popular the world over. Then there is Skyline.

Despite playing in nearly 3,000 theaters across the nation, this 2010 invasion movie was easy to miss. It opened in mid-November and 5½ weeks later, its domestic box office record officially closed with a gross of just over $21 million. While that number would be disastrous for Michael Bay, Steven Spielberg, and Roland Emmerich (and it certainly is for the Robert Zemeckis-produced Mars Needs Moms, destined for that neighborhood on a $150 M production budget), it wasn't all that disappointing for Skyline, which was made at an ultra-low cost of just $10 million.

If your jaw just dropped at that figure, you haven't seen the movie. I know that because there is nothing about Skyline to suggest expense above the absolute bare minimum. Disaster movies filled with visual effects tend to be the costliest form of entertainment out there. Skyline questions the necessity of that, spending not a great deal more than one of Syfy's ludicrous original movies.

Drawn to the blue light outside, Jarrod (Eric Balfour) gets veiny. Checking out the situation from the roof, old chums Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and Terry (Donald Faison) briefly get locked out up there.

Costs are cut at every opportunity, beginning with the cast. The handful of speaking parts are filled by actors you are more likely to recognize from TV than recent feature films.
They include Eric Balfour (Syfy's "Haven", The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"), Donald Faison ("Scrubs", Clueless), Brittany Daniel (BET's "The Game", "Sweet Valley High"), and Scottie Thompson (NBC's short-lived "Trauma" and a bit part in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek). There is an argument to be made for not needing big star power in high-concept fare; not many knew who Sharlto Copley or Sam Worthington were before District 9 and Avatar and those movies did just fine. Skyline asks little of its performers, having all take a backseat to the spectacle unfolding before them.

Minimal time and effort goes into humanizing the characters. Young-ish couple Jarrod (Balfour) and Elaine (Thompson) fly out to Los Angeles for the big birthday bash of Jarrod's old chum Terry (Faison). Terry has made it big, supposedly in visual effects. Candice (Daniel) is his bratty live-in girlfriend, but he's also getting some on the side. Around this stimulating upscale apartment shindig (where an unplanned pregnancy has just been announced), aliens arrive. At least, that's what we assume. Enormous aircrafts fill the sky and are revealed to have an unusual power. Their blue light hypnotizes humans who see it, calling out the veins on their body and pulling the person forward presumably towards deadly abduction. This very thing happens to the most disposable character introduced (not one of the aforementioned four) and it almost happens to Jarrod, leaving him with some torso scarring and unclear side effects.

Had the opening party sequence done its job of familiarizing us with and endearing us to the film's few lasting personalities, this might not be a bad foundation. It did not, though, and that makes the ill-conceived antics that follow incredibly easy to dismiss. Facing apparent apocalypse, the group falls into gender roles. Certain they know best, the two men head up to the roof with a loaded gun, while the women hang back and keep watch. The guys get locked up there and come close to biting it, but a close call spares us of an action movie starring two passive, moody gals.

Not that Skylight does much, if any, better with its coed cast. Crippled by both its shoestring budget and the nature of its premise, the film has nowhere to go, literally. Characters peek past window shades with a telescope to see if the situation is improving at all. It's not. An attempt to escape to the nearby ocean (which is established as some safe sanctuary more dubiously than a kindred M. Night Shyamalan twist) proves futile, as neighbor characters are introduced and offed along with one lead. And so, it's back to the apartment and sometimes back up to the roof. From either view, this is about the least thrilling alien invasion imaginable.

Look out, Los Angeles! There's an alien ship up in the sky in the 2010 sci-fi movie "Skyline."

It's tough to imagine how this brainless project received all the approvals necessary to be made and eventually widely distributed by Universal Pictures. Certainly, the low price tag must have helped the process. But that same low price tag is such a glaring detriment to the quarter-baked story trying to be told. Spectacle movies get away with weak scripts because, with the necessary funds, sensory thrills are relatively easy to supply. This movie evidently doesn't have the funds to divert away from the fact that the script is nowhere near clever enough to get by on. In what is not the least bit surprising, Skyline marks a screenwriting debut. Prior to this, scribe Joshua Cordes worked exclusively on visual effects, supervising animation on such big projects as 300, 2012, Avatar, and Iron Man 2,
the lattermost of which also employed co-writer Liam O'Donnell, a "creative consultant" on AVPR: Aliens vs. Predator - Requiem. Though tremendous, their writing failures cannot be deemed unexpected.

More surprising and nearly as troubling are the visuals. I haven't forgotten the low budget, but it's not a sufficient excuse for such unsightly design. The movie never even finds adequate angles for its invaders to carry meaning. There are blue lights and an epic scale and some kind of tentacles, but none of it rises above the biomechanical equivalent of babble. Not costing all that much more, Cloverfield managed to be effective by harnessing the power of suggestion and relying on characters' uninformed perspectives. Skyline takes an opposite approach, showing us the outside world again and again but giving us no clue, aside from some brain-harvesting imagery, where to look or why to care. Meanwhile, it keeps the humans in the dark, passing up every opportunity to make them worthy of sympathy. Considerable blame must lie with The Brothers Strause, the AVPR directors making their sophomore feature and also coming from a background in visual effects. Perhaps the only ones who can't be faulted for the film's shortcomings are the actors, and that is only if some ingenious shooting script is unearthed to justify their job selection.

Not expedited to extend its theatrical marketing budget, Skyline arrives on DVD and Blu-ray Tuesday, a full four months after opening in theaters and with cinemas' extraterrestrial film count perhaps as high as it has been in recent memory. We take a look at the Blu-ray here.

Skyline Blu-ray cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
Blu-ray: DTS-HD 5.1 MA (English), DTS-HD 5.1 (French, Spanish),
Dolby Surround (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Video Extras Subtitled
Release Date: March 22, 2011
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.98
Blue Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available on DVD ($29.98 SRP)


While Skyline is not a nice-looking film, the Blu-ray does everything to present the film as intended. The dark 2.40:1 picture is as sharp and clean as can be. If only the format could enhance the meaning of cold, unclear scenery.

The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio is quite a bit more satisfying. Atmosphere features prominently throughout and the disc's soundtrack distributes it well, with no annoying peaks and valleys plus less noise than the jumbled computer-generated imagery suggests. In the five weeks since replacing my dearly missed 5-disc DVD changer, I've only watched a handful of Blu-rays, but this one stands out as the most aurally impressive, for what it's worth.

For adding some humanity to building manager Ray (Neil Hopkins), this scene had to be deleted. This crude previsualization animation of the film's climax gives us a less dizzying look at an alien being.


Bonus features begin with 7 deleted/extended scenes (6:36), which include more party bits (without background music in place) and character moments.

Moving forward, everything else comes in groups of two. There are two alternate scenes (2:30) which offer quiet two-character discussions.
Two pre-visualizations (9:59) -- one short, one long -- both more clearly depict the aliens with crude computer animation. Two Skyline trailers (3:58) are included: a teaser with original news clips including Dan Rather and a longer more standard preview.

Every one of the aforementioned extras, even the trailers, comes equipped with lively, jokey, and revealing optional audio commentary by director Colin Strause and writers Joshua Cordes and Liam O'Donnell.

Last and longest come two feature audio commentaries. The first is by directors, Greg and Colin Strause. It's fair to say that they are slightly better at recording commentaries than they are at directing movies. While I don't think many will have the constitution to endure the movie a second time with its makers talking over it, their remarks on stretching the budget, marketing the film, racing to meet deadlines, revisions, and general production experiences aren't as insulting as the film's original soundtrack. Still, one wishes their undeserved pride was more amusing.

The second commentary enlists co-writer/producer Liam O'Donnell and co-writer Joshua Cordes. They're more relaxed and self-deprecating, but the novelty of that soon wears off as they share personal minutiae applicable to their scripting process, the plot's development, and MPAA ratings contentions. The most interesting revelation is that Brittany Daniel's twin sister Cynthia, her "Sweet Valley High" co-star, fills in for her on in one pick-up shot. The two tracks aren't distinctive or engaging enough for the duos not to have been paired up.

The disc is equipped with some of Universal's trademark Blu-ray touches: My Scenes (bookmarks), uHear for unclear line checking, enhancement for the pocket BLU mobile app, and a D-Box motion code. A "How to" section provides instructions for various Universal Blu-ray technologies. Such things appear to be the only exclusives the DVD version goes without.

The Blu-ray menu's scored montage of scenes is pretty unremarkable, but you may not notice with Universal's promotional ticker automatically activated and displaying news items about the studio's one 2011 Oscar winner (The Wolfman) and Babe's much-anticipated Blu-ray debut.

Bolstered by BD-Live, the disc currently opens with a promo for pocket BLU and trailers for Les Misιrables: 25th Anniversary, Paul and My Soul to Take, although your mileage definitely could vary. Speaking of BD-Live, it also powers the "What's New!" section, which streams dozens of theatrical or video trailers for this and other Universal movies.

Skyline's standard Blu-ray case is topped by a sleek, foil-bordered cardboard slipcover which mostly repeats all the artwork below.

In an effort to avoid killer aliens, the "Skyline" gang moves from elevator to parking garage with caution. This won't end well.


Skyline is bad without any fun or awareness to redeem it. Finding a less inspired theatrically-released alien invasion movie would require quite a bit of time and effort.

Universal's Blu-ray offers fine picture, terrific sound, and a solid collection of bonus features. Suckers for sci-fi would be wise to rent (not buy) and everyone else can skip this dud.

More on the Blu-ray / Buy from Amazon.com / Buy on DVD from Amazon.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
New: The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season • Hereafter • Sharktopus • The Tourist
Starring Donald Faison: Scrubs: The Complete and Final 9th Season • Homie Spumoni • Remember the Titans (Director's Cut)
Starring Brittany Daniel: Sweet Valley High: The Complete First Season | Eric Balfour: Dinoshark • The Spirit
District 9 • Transformers • Cloverfield • Avatar • Predators • Planet 51 • Race to Witch Mountain
Armageddon • The Happening • Stonehenge Apocalypse • Galaxy Quest • Zombieland • Knowing

Skyline Songs List (in order of use): Royce Da 5'9" - "Where My Money At", Mr. Robotic - "Supersonic Skyline", 30 Seconds to Mars - "Kings and Queens", Buchman - "One Two Three", Royce Da 5'9" - "New Money", The Crystal Method featuring LMFAO - "Sine Language (Metasyn Remix)", Royce Da 5'9" feat. Phonte - "Something 2 Ride 2", The Crystal Method - "The American Way", Alexandra Sargent, Christian Saint Louis, Chris Kinney, Stephen Franks - "Hiding Out", Buchman feat. Ursula Rucker - "Downwards", Mr. Robotic - "Drop Skyline", Baggsmen feat. Sweet U Turn Jenkins - "The Blues", Madsonik - "Damage Control"

Skyline Original Motion Picture Soundtrack: Music by Matthew Margeson:

Download from iTunes • Download MP3s from Amazon.com • Buy CD from Amazon.com

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Search This Site:

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed March 19, 2011.

Text copyright 2011 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2010 Universal Pictures, Relativity Media, Rogue, HydraulX Entertainment, Transmission, Rat Entertainment
and 2011 Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.