‘Skyline,’ the Latest Blockbuster on the Cheap

Indie is becoming a total disaster. Take “Skyline,” for instance …


Independent films aren't supposed to look like blockbusters, but if “Skyline’s” high-tech, low-budget alien invasion is any indication, they’re stepping into the ring.

Made on the cheap by special effects specialist brothers Colin and Greg Strause and executive produced by Brett Ratner, “Skyline,” like last year’s “District 9,” is more Lucas than Lynch and is shameless and a bit fearless about it.

“You can take more risks,” Strause told Hall H at Comic-Con Friday afternoon, “because you are working on an independent movie scale and that can turn into big movie ideas on screen.”

That big movie idea is that another perfect California day, to quote the preview, is ruined by another Alien invasion. Long a fave first strike of the creatures from Outer Space, the destruction of the City of Angels might become next year’s vampire phenomenon.

Makes sense … after all, “Skyline” isn’t the only flick coming out soon that punishes America’s second-largest city.

In the first-person shooteresque “Battle: Los Angeles,” which was previewed on Thursday at Comic Con, Michelle Rodriguez, Aaron Eckhart and a crack military force fight back against aliens in SoCal. In “Skyline,” a group of sexy, hard-partying twentysomethings wake up in a luxury hotel, and without “Battle’s” hardware, to much more than a hangover – E.T. has come to swallow the whole human race.

It didn’t quite get the reaction from the fanboys that Amber Heard did when she walked onstage for the “Drive Angry 3D” panel earlier in the day, but you could tell from the deeply informed questions from the hall floor that the alien invasion of “Skyline” did hit a demographic sweet spot at Comic-Con Friday afternoon.

Simply put – geeks eat up alien death and destruction, which, besides a feat of filmmaking, is what “Skyline” is all about.

Having said that, the flick, starring “Scrubs'” Donald Faison and “Six Feet Under’s” Eric Balfour, is an alien invasion of L.A. very up close and personal.

In, according to the Strauses, more ways than one.

The movie was primarily shot in Greg Strause’s house with a crew of less than 20 people in just over 11 months. While the brothers were mum about the actual budget, with more than 800 shots, “Skyline,” unlike the equal intimate and cost effective “Paranormal Activity,” probably cost less than Michael Bay’s cell phone bill, but looks as good as any “Transformers.”

“We’ve seen the excess on big sets, but with the new camera packs you don’t need all the lighting and that can save you so much time and money,” Strause explained to the crowd of a couple of thousand Con fans in the half-full hall.

In the past, the Strauses have brought their expertise to “Iron Man 2” and “Avatar,” among others. However, Faison joked to the crowd that the brothers directing experience had its limitations – “Its hard to make a move about the end of the world,” said the actor, “when you have to be quiet so not to wake up the neighbors.”

Looking as good as it does, “Skyline,” which Relativity Media picked up at Cannes this year, will defiantly wake up someone – studio bean-counters, for one.