"31 Movies, 31 Days": #1 Skyline
Movie: Skyline (2010)
Budget: $10 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 16%
Format: Netflix streaming
With just a 16% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, not to mention a cast featuring second-rate television actors, Skyline seems like an obvious and easy "thumbs down". Except...not. Yes, Skyline shamelessly combines elements from Independence Day, Transformers, District 9 and countless other sci-fi invasion films, and yes, the acting leaves something to be desired, but a film like Skyline has a very simple criteria when judging it: Was that some cool shit or what? Answer: Yes. Yes, that was some cool shit.
It's clear that the $10 million budget was spent largely on the special effects, and it's money VERY well spent. The aliens and spaceships come in various sizes and are all very effectively rendered. The smaller creatures look directly ripped off from the squid-like robots in The Matrix, but they're creepy and look good roaming around the Los Angeles skyline. Most impressive, I think, is the sense of scale when looking down, at a distance, at the large, lumbering giant aliens. While special effects are not sufficient reason to recommend a movie, they do go a long ways in a movie like this.
Beyond that, however, Skyline does succeed in creating that all-important wonderment of "what's happening? why is it happening? is it happening elsewhere?" Information is very limited and for most of the movie we know only what our characters know. While those characters may not be the sharpest tools in the shed, they don't really behave in unbelievable ways. Their response to the crisis seems believable and plausible which, in turn, gives those aforementioned special effects just a bit more oomph. The ending, which I won't give away here, is surprisingly dark and twisted---not what you're expecting, even after I've told you it's not what you're expecting.
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that Skyline is a "good" movie, but it is, essentially, a great straight-to-DVD sci-fi movie which got itself theatrical distribution. With such a low budget, one entirely self-financed, I give a film like this just a bit more leeway than, say, Transformers. And beyond all that, the film is just kind of fun. It deserves a higher rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and if you enjoy well-made B-movies, this fits the bill. Grossing worldwide over seven times what it cost to make, a sequel is on the way...and I intend to watch it. Whenever it comes to Netflix streaming, that is.
Kraig's Rating: 5/10