Skylines starts out promisingly enough, a gruff American accented James Cosmo gives us a “previously on the Skyline movies” summing up the events of the previous Beyond Skyline before we’re dropped into a sort of slum where humans and alien-human hybrids live in squalor and our supposed saviour Rose Corley a human with alien DNA.
While 2010’s Skyline was an at times interesting take on a Cloverfield style alien invasion with some neat surprises in it, it’s follow up Beyond Skyline was just another run of the mill alien invasion shoot ‘em up. Here we have a film that really belongs on streaming platforms where it will find a Saturday evening audience of stoners and non-plussed viewers. The film is bogged down by three things – one, it’s not particularly exciting. The “take the fight to them” concept just means we’re subjected to grey-blue interiors and a random amount of CGI that doesn’t really give us a sense of a society at large but a bug-like alien force looking to kill us because the plot demands.
Secondly, the characters are paper-thin in the extreme. Though charming enough Lindsey Morgan’s Rose is no different from other “part them part us” heroes, she’s a little punky but never more than a wry smile when someone annoys her. It doesn’t help that she’s teamed up in the film with a crew of equally cardboard support – Jonathan Howard is the cockney geeza who might be a love interest for her, Daniel Bernhardt the no-nonsence marine that doesn’t like her, Yayan Ruhian is your standard-issue martial artist who can kick you in the face for a cheap action sequence.
The third is that it’s duelling plotline cuts tension at every corner. The slums that we find Cosmo’s eyepatch-clad warriors Grant and tasty-in-a-fight doctor Rhona Mitra is a far more interesting idea, a sort of Mad Max meets Independence Day. The veteran actors chew their lines and spit them out with a joy that it’s hard not to enjoy being around, and Alexander Siddig as the shady clearly villain camps it up enough that whenever you’re not watching them it’s all the more confusing.
The film also doesn’t feel cinematic, it feels like an extended episode of a CW style science fiction series, the casting of Mitra, Cosmo and Siddig also doesn’t help as veterans of B-grade fluff like Strike Back and Battlestar Galactica offer more than the whiff of a cheapo production. That’s not to say that there aren’t things to enjoy, the banter between Rose and her alien-hybrid sibling Trent offers some possible hope that it might be a more playful film that could offer entertainment, and the visual effects considering the budget restraints aren’t that bad.
What it comes down to is a weak film and while there is the hint that a fourth film could be on the horizon, it might just be better to leave this series in the void of space.
Dir. Liam O’Donnell
Scr. Liam O’Donnell
Cast: Lindsey Morgan, Jonathan Howard, Daniel Bernhardt, Rhona Mitra, James Cosmo, Alexandra Siddig
Prd. Liam O’Donnell, Greg Strause, Colin Strause, Matthew E. Chausse
DOP: Alain Duplantier
Music: Ram Khatabakhsh
Runtime: 110 minutes
Skylines is out in select UK cinemas and available digitally on demand from 18th December.