Beyond Skyline

Released: December 2017(Limited Release)

Director: Liam O’Donnell

Rated R

Run Time: 106 Minutes

Distributor: Vertical Entertainment

Genre: Science Fiction/Action

Cast:
Frank Grillo: Mark
Bojana Novakovic: Audrey
Jonny Weston: Trent
Callan Mulvey: Harper
Iko Uwais: Sua
Yayan Ruhian: The Chief

Back in 2010, there was a little alien invasion film called Skyline.  This movie was about a group of people stranded in a high-rise building when mysterious lights began to appear and people were inexplicably drawn to the lights and disappeared.  Turns out they were being abducted by aliens…obviously.  It was directed by special effects gurus Colin and Greg Straus.  It was a pretty goofy little sci-fi movie but it was surprisingly a good amount of fun.  It was made on a 10 million dollar budget, and it looked far more expensive than that.  The visual effects were absolutely incredible for that kind of budget.  Sadly, the film was let down by a fairly predictable story and characters that you just didn’t care about.  Given how the film ended, one would have expected a sequel, but the film’s reception and box-office intake wasn’t particularly inspiring.  In 2015, we got word that an actual follow-up to the film was indeed going to happen.  A couple of years later, we have Beyond Skyline.  So, is it better than the original film?  Let’s find out.

Set just before the abductions began in the original SkylineBeyond Skyline follows LAPD officer Mark as he goes to pick up his estranged son, Trent from the police department.  While on the way home on the subway, the entire city comes under attack.  After trying to escape, a group of people including a blind man, Sarge, as well as Audrey, a subway driver, Mark and his son are abducted and pulled into an alien ship.  Trying to find his son, Mark runs into Jarrod, a guy from the first movie whose brain has been put into a new body.  Together, they also stumble on Jarrod’s pregnant girlfriend as she gives birth to a baby girl.  Jarrod then forces the ship to crash in the jungles of Indonesia, where Mark meets up with a couple of local outlaws.  The story here is quite interesting as the film actually overlaps the final events of the previous film.  So, yeah, this IS a genuine sequel.  Honestly, this is the kind of sequel that Independence Day: Resurgence needed to be.  Not only does Beyond Skyline address what happened in the original film, it takes the film to different areas and different locations.  It’s actually nice to see the film expand the world a bit.

Let’s talk about the visuals first.  The original film was built on 10 million dollar budget, but looked like it was made for 5 times that.  The CGI was impressive.  Beyond Skyline’s visual effects are no less impressive.  While some of the CGI later on in the film is kind of wonky, it’s still manages an impressive scale with the size of the ships.  The aliens themselves are a combination of practical suits and stilts enhanced with a bit CG.  It works quite well actually.  A lot of the visual effects are genuinely practical and some of the locations are incredibly beautiful.  The film was shot on location in California and Indonesia.  It’s really awesome to see that the movie actually goes places.

The film boasts a pretty strong cast with Frank Grillo in the lead as Mark.  Frank Grillo has been making a huge name for himself in the action film genre.  He starred alongside Liam Neeson in The Grey as well as working with and taking on Chris Evans in the last two Captain America films.  He’s pretty good at playing a bad guy as evidenced by his performance in Wolf Warrior 2.  It’s really awesome to see Grillo become an alien ass-kicker.  The supporting cast is also impressive.  Beyond Skyline also brings in two of the most well-known Indonesian martial arts actors: Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian of The Raid films.  I’ve always felt that Iko Uwais is not only a great martial artist, but a good actor as well.  I’ve been paying attention to this guy’s work since Merantau.  He’s been getting better with each and every movie that he makes.  It’s awesome to see him finally bridge the eastern and western film industries.

Unlike the first film, Beyond Skyline is a hard R-rated film and it earns it.  Aside from the large amount of f-bombs being dropped, it’s very violent.  It does not skimp on the gore.  The action is intense.  A lot of the fight scenes involving hand-to-hand combat were choreographed by Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian.  That means no wire-enhanced combat when it comes to the martial arts.  It’s about as grounded as you can get when dealing with evil space aliens.  Watching Iko take on these aliens is something to behold.  Frank Grillo can also hold his own with the action.  It’s awesome to see that actors get really down and dirty when it comes stunt-work and action sequences.  The alien sequences get kind of weird especially towards the end of the film, but I won’t spoil it here.

When I said the film was rated R, I meant it.  While the action is visceral and brutal, there are scenes that can be somewhat disturbing, especially when it involves unborn children.  It’s weird, but it’s also very unsettling.  What the aliens do to regular people is pretty gruesome, even more so than in the first film.  It’s slimy and gory and it’s really awesome to see the film not pull any punches.  While the story does take some predictable turns, it’s bolstered by a very strong cast as well as some really intense action sequences.  There are some moments when the CGI looks pretty hokey, but it’s nothing that can’t be forgiven.

Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised at how awesome this movie was.  I enjoyed the first film, but this one is so much better.  Not only is Beyond Skyline a more than worthy follow-up to what was otherwise a mediocre sci-fi flick, it’s also one of the best sequels in recent years.  So, do I recommend this one?  Oh, hell yes, I do.  This movie is bad-ass in every sense of the word.  Not only do you get alien action, but martial arts as well.  What’s not to like?  The film is currently available On Demand and will be available on DVD/Blu-Ray on January 16.  It’s absolutely worth the entry fee.

Final Recommendation: IT’S BLUE!!!  Oh and don’t mess with Frank Grillo, either.  That goes for you as well, space aliens! 9/10

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