Remember when Skyline came out? Remember how many people agreed that it looked great, especially considering the budget, but was really didn't have anything more going for it? Which perhaps explains why Beyond Skyline now comes along as one of the most unexpected, and unwanted (for many), sci-fi sequels in recent years.
It was even more surprising when people heard that it would star Frank Grillo, Iko Uwais, and Yayan Ruhian (the latter two most famous just now for their roles in The Raid movies). But could it pull off the ultimate surprise move and turn out to be a good film?
The plot concerns the same alien invasion that we saw during the first film. We're just seeing things from a different perspective this time. Grillo is Mark, a tough detective who starts the film picking up his son (Trent, played by Jonny Weston) from jail. When all hell breaks loose, Mark tries to protect Trent from the alien invaders. And so begins a tale that will throw some hardy humans together with some advanced tech that may just help them defeat the aliens, or may just delay the inevitable as Earth is overpowered and drained.
Written and directed by Liam O'Donnell (co-writer of the first movie), Beyond Skyline is a film that certainly seeks to make up for the failings of the first instalment. If the first film had nothing much beyond the great FX work, this one wants to throw in a whole boat-load of new ideas. Taking the key moment from the end of the first film as a starting point, it naturally progresses things in a way that could have worked well if O'Donnell wasn't determined to expand everything at the same time: the scale, the cast of characters, the implausibility, the wavering focus of the film.
The fact that Frank Grillo must be used to being wasted in the few main roles he gets doesn't make it any easier to see him wasted once again. He's a good choice for the role, and easily the best thing in the film, but his character is almost rendered invisible by everything that's going on around him, both in terms of onscreen activity and the frantic plotting. Bojana Novakovic is similarly wasted, given the deep and resonant character of . . . female. Weston isn't onscreen for that long, which is something you could also say of Uwais and Ruhian. Both of those impressive fighters get one or two decent moments, but it's really too little too late when you think of the movie that could have been built around their skillset. At least Antonio Fargas does as well as he can with his small role.
A lot of people have enjoyed this movie more than I did, and it's definitely a better attempt to work a plot into the special effects this time around. But just because it's better than the first film doesn't make it a good film. The flaws drag this down to average, at best. It's a mess, there's nobody to really care for (despite having more characters to choose from), and any sequel to a film starring Brittany Daniel loses a point for not bringing back Brittany Daniel. That's my rule anyway.
Buy the bluray here.
Or, in America, buy it here.