Written and Directed by Liam O’Donnell (Directorial Debut)
October 14, 2017 (Toronto After Dark Film Festival) / December 15, 2017 (United States)
A tough police detective gets caught up in the events of an alien invasion and fights to protect a child whose survival could benefit humanity.
Beyond Skyline is the second film in the Skyline series and acts as a bit of a soft reboot. It introduces a new set of characters and literally gives birth to one as well. From the original the entire cast was either dead or in a situation that would be hard to get out of so a new set of characters was indeed needed if they were going to make more films.
Frank Grillo is LAPD Detective Mark Corley and takes over the hero role from any of the other characters in the last film. The character of Jarrod from the last film, who has an alien form now, and his girlfriend Elaine who appears briefly in the beginning and does not last long because she dies in childbirth. Jarrod dies fighting the alien leader.
This is not the first film I have seen where a character from the previous film gets killed off in some fashion shortly after the start of the film even when they are played by a different actor. Here Jarrod was played by some guy in an alien suit. I am not sure if there is some legal reason that they could not continue with the dude in the suit. The only reasoning I can see is that whole lawsuit involving Back to the Future II and Crispin Glover. If anyone has an answer for that I would appreciate it.
Mark is having a rough time with his adult son Trent (Jonny Weston) after the death of his wife Rose. At least Trent looks like an adult. For all I know the character could actually be a teenager. There are moments when it feels like the character is underage but that could be due to script changes to make the character fit the actor better. It happens.
The first chunk of the film is essentially the events of the original movie as seen by a different set of characters. It is a nice recap for the audience or a great way for newcomers to understand what is going on. Even the introduction of Jarrod and Elaine does not require one to have seen the original film.
Once we get the recap the movie goes from a survival type yarn to more of an action-oriented thing as the characters eventually crash-land in Laos (at least it is implied to be) and meet up with some local drug lords and fight to survive. There we meet Harper (Callan Mulvey), The Chief (Yayan Ruhian), Sua (Iko Uwais), and the sister of Sua named Kanya (Pamelyn Chee).
And we finally get some giant monster battles. That was a real treat for me. You can call this kaiju if you want. And it was all set against an ancient temple complex (the Indonesian Prambanan temple complex specifically even if the script suggests that it is all happening in Laos). That was just so very cool to me. The last film had plenty of moments of people getting chased by monsters but no monster battles.
The main thrust of the film is the daughter of Jarrod and Elaine who, because of the effects of the strange alien light, grows rapidly into a little girl. This is apparently a bad thing (for the aliens) as well as serving as an explanation on why the aliens did not convert Elaine and kill the baby right away at the end of the first film.
Apparently the aliens (still not named) have been coming to Earth for a long time and may even have done some work on our biology if not seeded us here. Which is a cool idea when you do not think about it too much. Creating a species for brain harvesting seems…silly. Anyway, a mutation occurred in human DNA that allows for a brain in the alien body things to resist control and maintain independence. And that obviously becomes a major plot element as rather than being a film where people just struggle to survive it becomes a film about defeating the aliens or at least starting that fight.
The special effects are still pretty good. The monsters all look great and if you are having a monster movie of any type, even if it is a monster alien invasion film, they need to look good. There are a few mild shortcomings during the final battle, but I think that has more to do with the aging of effects technology than it does anything.
Characters come and go with a similar frequency as they did in the original film. At least in the beginning but that tempo feels like it changed once the alien vessel crashes. One character that sticks around from the beginning is Audrey (Bojana Novakovic), an LA transit worker Mark encounters in the beginning of the film. She was not one of the more interesting characters, but she was one of the ones that was most likely to survive.
I admit to liking this one a little more than the first one. It is not too deep of a film. Then again, the first one was not either, but it does benefit from a higher action content and a more exciting narrative with better characters.
Why are the characters better? They complain less. They are less wrapped up in themselves and more concerned with the alien invaders and the giant monsters they need to hide from. And while I did not mind it in the original one, I can see a noticeable improvement in the story by eliminating that here.
In the end Beyond Skyline is a fun alien invasion movie with plenty of butt kicking action. It is nothing too sophisticated or unique. It is just a fun ride. I say watch it!