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Film: Skyline
aka: Sky Line

Skyline is a 2010 science fiction film directed by the Brothers Strause. Though it made quite a bit of money at the box office, the movie has met with negative critical reception.

A young couple, Jarrod and Elaine, travel to LA for their friend Terry's birthday party at his penthouse apartment. After the wild party, everyone goes to sleep it off... only to be awoken by mysterious blue lights that fall from the sky into the city. As people are drawn to the lights in a twisted trance, they are snatched by the light, never to be seen again.

As the survivors draw the blinds to protect themselves from the light, they're faced with a dilemma: do they brave the hypnotic blue lights outside to try and escape, or do they hide in the darkness and hope that help comes for them? Things get worse when the aliens start sending out scouts to search every apartment with their blue lights, and especially when they learn what the aliens do to the people they take...

Spoiler Warning: At least one key plot element — why the aliens are here — could be considered a Big Reveal, but it's also intrinsic to the discussion of the work. Per Handling Spoilers, blocking out 1/3rd of the examples doesn't work. So if you haven't seen the film and want to keep the alien's modus operandi a surprise, stop reading here.


Skyline provides examples of:

  • A Million Is a Statistic: The abduction of the rest of the population of Los Angeles is merely a backdrop for the drama of a very small group of people and their tragedies.
    • Human military aircraft, mostly manned, getting knocked out of the skies in the background becomes almost routine by the time Jarrod and Elaine are taken into the ship.
  • Alien Abduction: Stare into the pretty lights and a few seconds later you're being pulled into the ship.
  • Alien Invasion
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Jarrod's brain is removed and installed into one of the war machines.
  • Appendage Assimilation: The aliens can take human brains and use them as processors for their war machines. If damaged, they just grab a new brain. It looks like the rest of the body is melted down in the motherships (they throw them into a glowing pool).
  • Attack Drone: Alien "Hydra" drones that search the skyscrapers, as well as the smaller, octopus-type things, which are actually called "Drones". Also used by the military in an attack against the large ships.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Sure, Jarrod may get a somewhat happy ending if Elaine and him can escape the ship, but these aliens have killed most of humanity already, and it's implied they aren't going to leave... at least until they run out of humans, at any rate.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Jarrod gets one of these at the very end when he rescues Elaine while in a superhuman alien body.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The aliens appear to be biomechanical, and most have an abundance of metallic tentacles and other strange appendages, and run on human brains.
  • Body Horror: Staring into the light makes your veins turn a dark, inky colour. Then you learn what the aliens want with humans — to rip out their brains for use as biological CPUs in their war machines.
  • Brain Food: Not so much eating as taking and using them for themselves. It seems to be the motivation for the invasion, since they're used to replace old ones a few times.
  • Brown Note: The alien light this mixed with The Virus.
  • Cliff Hanger: but an interestingly inverted one. It looks like humanity, and our protagonists, are down for the count, but there is a Hope Spot in the final scene, just as we fade to black and the credits roll. Not a Bolivian Army Cliff Hanger, because the protagonists are left safer than they were just one minute before the ending.
  • Cool Ship: The alien spacecraft are huge, complicated masses of metallic spines, panels and antenna, and their blue lights do look pretty cool. Really... really cool....
  • Convenient Color Change: When Jarrod loses their brain, it's a different color from that of everyone else thanks to having built up an immunity to their mind control. Once inserted into a giant monster, they keep control and use it to rebel.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: It would appear humanity loses. All we see are shots of devastated cities, and even our best weapons appear to only slow them down for a bit.
  • Death by Pragmatism: Oliver. He's the most reasonable of the group, to a point, but it's his insistence on staying hunkered down in the building that ultimately spells his doom. Of course, others don't fare much better...
  • Death by Sex: Played straight. Donald Faison's character is cheating on his girlfriend and gets killed. So does the girl he's cheating with.
  • Developing Doomed Characters: The first fifteen minutes set at Terry's birthday party, which is brimming with highly unlikeable jerks who like to spy on people having sex for their own entertainment.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Almost literally. Jarrod starts off with a cinderblock but then goes to fisticuffs. The alien breaks his leg during the sequence, leading to a non limb-specific Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Humanity is done. Worse than done — based on what the aliens did when they discovered Elaine's pregnancy and the other pregnant women nearby, humans are going to be farmed.
    • It's cool though. Jarrod's an alien war machine now and is going to kick some major alien ass in the sequel that will likely never be made.
    • For how long he's going to survive against an entire armada while trying to protect his wife is anyone's guess though.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner / Pre-Mortem One-Liner / Taking You with Me:
    Oliver: Vaya con Dios, you son of a bitch!
  • Final Girl : featuring Elaine as the very last survivor at the very end, and then quickly adverted by an inverted Cliff Hanger (Jarrod's resurrection as a machine).
  • Genre Savvy: Oliver is the most level-headed of the group, shooting down Jarrod's plan of trying to steal a boat with its obvious flaws, such as not having the luxury of searching every single boat for the keys while giant alien creatures are scouring the city for them.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: The aliens can recover from anything short of having their brains physically torn out, and even that might not stop them if they can grab a nearby human.
  • Hellish Copter: A Blackhawk is taken down by Combat Tentacles.
  • Heroic Willpower: One of the possible explanations for how Jarrod gains control over the machine, rather than just being the CPU.
  • Hope Spot:
    • As it turns out, nuking the alien ship really worked! Until it starts repairing itself.
    • Played with and subverted, as whenever the main group tries to have a bit of this, they always seemed to get screwed either way. Finally played straight on the ending.
  • Implacable Man: The King Kong sized Tankers. One of them survives being hit with a rocket launcher, shot with an M-16, falling off a building, shot with several .50 BMG sniper rounds, getting caught in a gas explosion, falling off a building (again), and getting shot with an F-22's Vulcan. Having the F-22 crash into it, however, seems to kill it.
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: Jarrod tries this with Elaine, since he can barely move. She chooses to die with him instead by looking into the light. Only they don't die.
  • Light Is Not Good:
    • And blue light on top of that, to subvert Good Colors, Evil Colors.
    • Heck Jarrod even gives us Kind Red Eyes to counter the subverted Blue Eyes of Goodness
  • Living Ship: According to Word of God, "Every single one is a different unique creature with its own DNA."
  • Mind-Control Eyes: Looking directly at the pretty blue lights induces this. Jarrod also gets them when he gets pissed off later in the movie.
  • Mistaken for Quake: When the aliens attack, some of the characters assume it's a minor earthquake.
  • No Ending: The film fades out mid-scene.
  • No OSHA Compliance: This happens so often in films that it's not funny, but rooftop doors are supposed to have a one-way lock. They lock on the inside of the building to keep people from going out on the roof (and jumping), but they do not lock on the outside so no one who is already out of the roof gets locked out in cold/rain (and aliens, by extension).
  • Not Using The "A" Word: The aliens are only referred to as "they."
  • Artistic License - Nuclear Physics: Oliver was looking at a nuclear explosion through a telescope. You're not supposed to look at the sun through a telescope, certainly not a nuclear explosion. That eye should be at the very least temporarily blinded - or more realistically - permanently.
  • Nuke 'em: The US military attempts to nuke an alien ship. It works, but it quickly starts repairing itself, and eventually appears as good as new.
  • Off with His Head!: The aliens steal brains, taking the entire head and most of the spine with it.
  • Ominous Floating Spaceship: All over the sky of every major city, apparently.
  • Organic Technology: The aliens. Word of God has it that the Motherships are organic too, in spite of the fact that they really look like they're made out of gold and glass.
  • Parking Garage: When they get there, people start to die.
  • People Farms: It's implied that the aliens are doing this at the end of the film, since they have a contraption apparently designed to suck unborn children right out of the mother.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: The alien mothership — even after being nuked.
  • Power at a Price: At the end of the film, Jarrod is immune to the alien bio-tech reprogramming, and retains his personality. While that does grant the strength and speed of the bad guys, the downside is... you're stuck as one of them.
  • Ramming Always Works: The Hydras fight human aircraft by ramming into them at top speed. This leaves the Hydra unharmed...even though getting hit with a missile will kill one. In an unintentional instance of this trope, the Tanker seems invulnerable to anything short of having an F-22 crash into its head.
  • Reality Ensues: A really brutally honest example. So a super advanced alien race invades Earth? How will humanity fight off these powerful foes? They don't. You didn't really think humanity stood a chance agaisnt alien beings advanced and powerful enough to travel across millions miles to fuel their unstoppable war machines did you?
  • Red Herring: The yacht.
  • Rule of Cool: Who knew such an alien invasion with no hope would somehow be exciting?
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Subverted. When and Jarrod are trapped on the roof by a one-way door, Terry tries to shoot out the lock twice with no success. It takes Elaine opening the door from the other side for them to escape.
  • Slow No: Jarrod, when the helicopter crash.
  • Starfish Aliens: They sure don't look like anything on Earth.
  • Tainted Veins: From looking into the blue lights.
  • Taking You with Me: Oliver tries this on one of the "Tanker" aliens. It doesn't work.
  • Too Dumb to Live: With LA full of alien monsters eating everything that moves, our heroes decide to try and escape in cars with big, growly engines and in broad daylight. Granted, their chances weren't all that good whatever they tried, but at least on foot and at night they had some small hope of evading detection. And let's not even think about the fact that their entire daylight plan was to escape by boat. From flying aliens. Yeah, that will work!
  • Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: Jarrod's glowing red brain proves to be just too much for the war-machine husk and he takes it over. Not quite the normal version of the trope, but close enough.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Albeit horribly underused here.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailers and commercials contained snippets of news broadcasts talking about "Every city in the world" being attacked. These never appear in the film.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Arguably the best surprise in the film is when the car is crushed by the alien's foot as it comes out of the parking garage, so of course this was displayed prominently in the trailer.
    • One of the commentary tracks laments the fact that the helicopter getting grabbed while it's attempting to pick up Jarrod would have been a nice shot if it was wasn't used in the trailers.
  • Viewers Are Morons: The only possible explanation for Jarrod's brain and eyes glowing red instead of blue. Better make sure it's Color-Coded for Your Convenience, or people won't get it, right?
  • The Virus: The light seems to act like this, particularly for Jarrod.
  • Wilhelm Scream: When a soldier gets knocked off a building. Pretty disturbing version, too.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Yeah, we had to nuke L.A., but the alien mothership is down... what do you mean the film is only half over?


Oooh... look at the pretty blue text...
SignsScience Fiction FilmsThe Space Children
SintelFilms of the 2010sThe Social Network

alternative title(s): Skyline
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