Review by Sean Boelman
If anyone ever wondered what the most unlikely candidate to start a decade-long trilogy was, the answer is probably the glorified visual effects demo reel Skyline. Another diverting but mediocre sci-fi flick borrowing from better films in the genre, Skylines is made for a seemingly non-existent fanbase that probably wouldn’t even welcome it with open arms.
Picking up years after the events of the first two movies, the film is set in a world where humans are living in harmony with the human-alien hybrids that threatened to take over until a virus threatens to revert the hybrids to their murderous instincts and a human hero must lead a band of mercenaries to the aliens’ home planet to find the cure. It’s a really convoluted plot that is little more than an excuse for a couple of cool action sequences.
One of the most off-putting things about this movie is that it feels like a mash-up of other sci-fi storylines. It starts out as a Terminator-like action flick before turning into a Prometheus for a franchise no one cares about and finally ending with the finale of Aliens. In a way, it’s almost entertaining to watch how unoriginal the story is.
The film also doesn’t settle on an action style. There are sci-fi action sequences with laser guns, martial arts fights, and even a couple of scenes towards the end that are reminiscent of superhero movies. The choreography of some of the individual scenes is actually quite good, but it isn’t enough to justify the tedium of its prolonged runtime.
It’s almost ironic that this series started as a showcase for one of the best visual effects companies because now it has turned into a cheap B-movie franchise. In the first movie, the effects were used to effectively create some genuine suspense, but here, they feel really unoriginal and out-of-date.
Also frustrating is the fact that the film feels the need to hold the audience’s hand. The first ten minutes are basically a recap meant to reorient the audience into the series and explain the mythology. What the filmmakers fail to realize is that no one watching this movie cares about the story, they want to see aliens and fighting, so this introduction just tacks on extra time.
Then there is a subplot about what is happening on Earth parallel to the main storyline about the expedition to the alien planet. This is clearly intended to establish a ticking clock, apparently to create a sense of urgency, but by cutting away from the main storyline for five minutes at a time, the momentum is just ruined.
Out of about an hour and forty minutes of substantial material (and ten minutes of a gag reel and credits), there’s maybe thirty minutes of stuff worth watching in Skylines. How this series made it to three films is baffling, but thankfully, it is apparently wrapped-up.
Skylines hits theaters and VOD on December 18.