Skyline has one semi-inspired moment, and an hour and a half of intolerable ones. In L.A. to visit his movie-industry pal Terry (Donald Faison), artist Jarrod (Eric Balfour) and girlfriend Elaine (Scottie Thompson) wake up after a night of partying to find that they’re now in the City of Aliens, whose newest inhabitants shine bright blue lights to hypnotize people, and then—in the proceedings’ sole virtuoso image—inhale them, by the thousands, into their hovering motherships. It’s an arresting sight of epic supernatural disaster and, unfortunately, not equaled by anything else in the Strause brothers’ sluggish film.
Stuck in a downtown high rise, Jarrod and Elaine panic while trying to cope with news of an impending pregnancy neither wants, and Terry deals with the fallout from his wife (Brittany Daniel) discovering that he’s been cheating on her with an assistant (Crystal Reed). These dilemmas are so woodenly scripted and amateurishly performed that they play like parodies of disaster-movie dramas, though they’re no more unimaginative than the run-of-the-mill aliens themselves, biomechanical squid-like creatures with probing tentacles reminiscent of those possessed by War of the Worlds‘s extra-terrestrials. F/X expert Terry tells Jarrod, “The computer is just a tool,” but the Strauses employ it as lamely as they do the word processor. For all the attacks by, and flights from, intergalactic behemoths, Skyline‘s digitized wizardry is decidedly lackluster.
Confined to a few confined urban locations, often providing you-are-there perspectives on the larger-than-life mayhem, and fixated on demonic-looking titans bent on annihilation, the film plays like Cloverfield redux, except with less personality and tension, and more—though hardly more effective—full-frontal views of its invading monsters. Jarrod’s murder of an alien creature by repeatedly punching his fist into—and tearing yucky organic material out of—a beast’s giant vaginal mouth affords a potent symbolic vision of male parenting phobias. Predictably, Skyline attempts to negate any such prickly undercurrent via a cornball fetus-protecting finale. Yet given its kill-worthy characters and disposable sci-fi action, the thought of abortion during this saga is never, ultimately, far from one’s mind.