Beyond Skyline

So, the new movie Beyond Skyline is the totally unexpected and yet not completely unwelcome sequel to the low-budget-yet-visually-impressive-but-ultimately-pretty-bad sci-fi alien invasion movie Skyline from 2010. In that movie, exasperatingly annoying twenty-somethings watch an alien invasion of LA from a ridiculously expensive high-rise apartment. It was a pretty smart way to handle a big-scale movie on a small budget and could have been decent. This sequel ups the budget, improves the characters, moves out of the apartment and is a surprisingly good movie… for what it is.
 
The film follows a new group of survivors in LA before the original invasion, takes the action into the alien ship and joins the original movie’s story, heads to Hawaii, and then to Laos. It’s a globe-trotting, surprisingly complex story compared to the original isolated space. The movie’s visual FX look like a million bucks (ok, maybe a half-million) too so they clearly had a bigger budget to work with.
 
But don’t be fooled – this is an up-jumped B movie that pulls off a minor miracle looking as good as it does. The story involves our heroes invading an ooey-gooey impractical spaceship and confronting the evil brain-stealing plans of generic alien baddies who have come to Earth to harvest. But, hey, that can be fun and if any of this paragraph makes you grin, then maybe you’ll have fun too.
 
The main star of the flick is Frank Grillo, the type of B actor who gets top billing in movies like this maybe way down the IMDB cast list on bigger movies. For example, top billing in The Purge: Anarchy, not so much Captain America. He’s not bad playing Gruff LA Detective Guy… not a lot of range needed. He shoots and punches aliens.
 
Also punching, shooting, AND kicking aliens are the surprise appearance of a couple martial arts actors from the Indonesian films The Raid and Raid 2: Redemption. You may also know them as part of one of the pirate gangs who raided Han Solo’s ship in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens (where they were lower on the IMDB page than when they were in The Raid). But it was fun to see them and realize the movie was about to become a martial arts flick… which means they punch, kick, and stab the aliens. Which is unintentionally funny since the aliens sometimes throw roundhouse kicks in return.
 
The aliens are played by men in pretty convincing full-body prosthetic complete with CGI-replaced stilts to give them height. In fact, all the visual effects are impressive and there are a LOT of them. You’d be forgiven to think this movie had a much bigger budget than it does. Until, of course, you run into some clunky effects, especially in the final action scene where the movie starts to fall apart.
 
That final big action scene is muddled and messy and goes on too long and kind of drags what was a perfectly serviceable. Doesn’t ruin it but my patience grew real thin as the solid tone and editing started to slip. It does have the good grace to give us a pretty cool Hero Moment though. Credit where due… it was cool.
 
Amusingly AND weirdly, the film ends with a blooper reel. Take that for it’s worth… but we do see the aliens on stilts and the amount of green screen used. It was interesting… and kind of funny.
 
So, yeah, a lot of words for a sci-fi alien zap-fest that, with a few million dollars less or equivalent talent drain, might have appeared as an original movie on SyFy channel (no insult to the good series that occasionally show up there). It’s surprisingly good for what it is… a sequel to a bad but inventive movie from 8 years ago. I caught this on iTunes rental but I think it can be found in limited theatrical release.
Score: 75

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