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Skyline by Matthew Margeson


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Skyline (Soundtrack) by Matthew Margeson
Skyline (Soundtrack) by Matthew Margeson
Skyline (Poster and Memorabilia)

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Skyline (Soundtrack) by Matthew Margeson

Composed by Matthew Margeson
Varese Sarabande (2010)

Rating: 6/10

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“With SKYLINE being such a catastrophic production in general, it is easy to forget that the score can be judged on its own merit away from the film. MARGESON has been able to extend the life of this music beyond the film and managed to escape SKYLINE with his dignity intact. ”

The Sky's Limited
Review by Richard Buxton

As a film score fan, one of the more comforting aspects of film is the fact that no matter the quality of the film, the score can be the saving grace. One can take solace in the idea that a score can be treated as an almost entirely separate entity to a disappointing film. The epitome of this is SKYLINE. The various trailers shown before release suggested a generic but nonetheless exciting alien invasion thriller. The reality of SKYLINE was a disaster from start to finish in all areas apart from the visual effects and score. From the script, to the acting to the direction, SKYLINE offered nothing to general audiences. Thankfully, MATTHEW MARGESON was seemingly detached enough in order to produce an engaging listening experience despite it being made up of largely formulaic ideas.
Despite the efforts of the composers, SKYLINE as a film fails to achieve almost anything it sets out to. Directed by visual effects artists COLIN and GREG STRAUSE, SKYLINE follows the struggles of a group stuck in an apartment in the midst of an alien invasion. What stands out the most is how little actually happens in the film. Rarely do the generic characters venture out of the apartment, and once they do it is only a matter of minutes before they return to the confines of the high-rise. A small budget clearly hinders the use of expansive locations, but with such sparse action providing few thrills, the all-important dialogue leaves a lot to be desired. Films set in such confined circumstances live and die by the writing, and SKYLINE dies a long and painful death from start to finish. Thankfully MARGESON’S compositions generally prove strong enough to be a diversion from the travesty that unfolds onscreen.
From the off, it is clear that MARGESON has come from the film scoring powerhouse that is Remote Control Productions.  The simple yet effective rising harmonies of “Abduction” are strongly influenced by the sounds of STEVE JABLONSKY’S work for the TRANSFORMERS films, as is the string ostinato heard in the closing moments of the track. “Abduction” provides the first glimpse of SKYLINE’S main theme and is heard numerous times throughout. Preceding this is the opening track “Don’t Look Up”, a largely ambient sound-design driven track that accompanies the opening moments of the alien invasion. The rampancy of the orchestra is heard in full swing in “Escape”, a solid action track that, despite Margeson’s good intentions has a distinctly hollow feel throughout. The ideas work, but they never achieve the fullness and texture that would take them to the next level.
The main theme returns in “Ship Down”, a piece of cautious optimism, the caution justified in the closing moments. Following “Ship Down” is “Skyline”. What is puzzling about this track is its complete lack of connection to the main theme of the film. It is an understandable expectation to hear the main theme in the title track of a score. “Skyline” however is another example of an exercise in tension building and ambience, one that works during the film but not so much as a separate entity.
The most disheartening aspect of the score is MARGESON’S obvious intention to provide an invigorating multitude of action and drama pieces, which often falls just a little bit short. “They’re Not Dead” encapsulates an array of ideas within its five-minute running time, but never fulfils its potential. Perhaps orchestral-size limitations proved to be a stumbling block, but it is a disappointment all the same. MARGESON’S venture into action territory continues similarly in “Make A Run For It” and in the strongest action-piece, “The Cavalry”. “The Cavalry” accentuates one of the very few thrilling moments of the film, and does so in a simplistic but pleasing and exciting manner.
From here onwards, SKYLINE does little in terms of variation, but merely flavours a train-wreck of a motion picture. “Final Battle” is, based on the rest of the score, exactly what you would expect; a climactic action-piece that revisits ideas heard previously while never truly lifting off, while “Inside The Ship” is another ultimately failed transition from accompaniment to separate listening experience that coincides with the disaster of a conclusion to the film.
With SKYLINE being such a catastrophic production in general, it is easy to forget that the score can be judged on its own merit away from the film. MARGESON has been able to extend the life of this music beyond the film and managed to escape SKYLINE with his dignity intact.

Rating: 6/10



Track Title Track Time  Rating
1 Don't Look Up 1:40  ***
2 Abduction 3:29  ****
3 The Escape 3:33  ***
4 Ship Down 2:12  ***
5 Skyline 2:40  *
6 They're Not Dead 5:02  *****
7 Make a Run for It 6:15  ***
8 The Cavalry 2:41  ****
9 Arrival 3:42  **
10 The Resurrection 2:17  **
11 Final Battle 3:14  ***
12 Jared is Changing 3:51  ***
13 Vaya Con Dios 1:28  **
14 Loss of a Friend 3:59  ***
15 Inside the Ship 4:34  *
16 Damage Control 1:55  ***
  Total Running Time (approx) 52 minutes  




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