Review: Beyond Skyline

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Despite being panned by critics, 2010’s Skyline was a pretty big hit at the box office and since the film industry tends to follow money more than artistic credibility we have been deigned a sequel in Beyond Skyline. Divorced somewhat from the original film, Beyond Skyline stars Frank Grillo as Mark, a police detective thrown along with his son (Johnny Weston) and a group of strangers headlong into an alien invasion of Earth.

In this world where Michael Bay’s movies can earn over a billion dollars at the box office, it’s safe to say that oftentimes with science-fiction that leans anywhere towards a mainstream audience regularly decides to give spectacle a precedence over plot. Beyond Skyline heartily embraces this idea. The overall premise of the film is somewhat basic, arguably inconsequential and what story points the film does have are groan-inducing cliches. The characters are wafer-thin archetypes if they have any real personality at all as the film noisily thunders through action set pieces in a scenario loosely recalling War Of The Worlds. In fact, the film is chockablock with elements from various sci-fi classics, in particular both Alien and Predator are hugely apparent sources of “inspiration”. As is, curiously enough, recent trends in martial-arts cinema, leading to The Raid’s Yayan Ruihan being a part of the cast and its South-East Asian setting…and kick-friendly alien…robot…things.

As far as the cast goes, it’s difficult to say given the rather limited personalities they’re left to work with, the lack of any real character progression and that most of them come-and-go in such a way as to emphasise how expendable they seem. Still, it’s nice to see Antonio Fargas turn up in something I guess. There are a couple of attempts at trying to get the audience to care about the characters but without laying much groundwork beforehand, it’s a wasted effort. Given that this film was definitely intended to just go for the spaceships and explosions crowd anything else seems more like a waste of time, although the opening minutes (suffice to say the film doesn’t mess around with getting the plot underway, which is something of a positive) tilt a bit more towards horror that is surprisingly effective. This is largely dropped still early on.

With its near-complete disregard for anything even remotely resembling a proper story and often televisual production-values (a mixture of pretty bad CGI and some rather unconvincing sets that pop up on occasion) there’s a question to be had as to whether the filmmakers are angling less for a good movie in the traditional sense or more aiming towards a tongue-in-cheek comedy in the fashion of  Sharknado. The humour doesn’t seem broad enough for the latter option but on the same merit, it’s nearly impossible to take this film seriously. As such, if you embrace the film for its stupidity (and it is most definitely stupid, make no mistake) it’s largely a lot of fun but it’s a headache trying to find anything else in it.

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