Beyond Skyline (2017) (105 minutes)
Directed by Liam O’Donnell.
Written by Liam O’Donnell.
Starring Frank Grillo, Bojana Novakovic and Jonny Weston.
Follows Skyline (2010)
Released in 2017, seven years after it’s predecessor Skyline, the aptly titled Beyond Skyline sees Liam O’Donnell (co-writer of Skyline) take over the directorial reigns from Greg and Colin; The Brothers Strause (Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem), in his directional debut.
Beyond Skyline was unwarranted. It is a sequel no one expected, and perhaps, a sequel no one wanted. Skyline itself was a solid alien invasion, science fiction film, that in my humble opinion was unjustly tore apart by audiences upon its theatrical release. I first caught Skyline on the Syfy channel and had fun with it, but let’s be honest here… Skyline was a $10-20 million B movie that was marketed as the next science fiction blockbuster.
Indeed, Skyline was produced by the team at Hydraulx VFX (The Avengers, Captain America: The First Avenger, Hardcore Henry) so, if anything, Skyline’s visual effects looked incredible; and yes, the movie made back its budget…and then some, grossing nearly $79 million worldwide. But, Skyline is sci-fi schlock that ended just as things were beginning to get ridiculously fun; infuriating audiences expecting another Independence Day.
Even as someone that appreciated the first movie, Beyond Skyline went beyond (pun intended) my expectations entirely. Liam O’Donnell has taken everything that was fun about Skyline, such as the extraterrestrial designs, the ‘brain-sucking’ origins of the aliens themselves, Skyline survivors Jarrod and Elaine (now portrayed by different performers), etc, and has expanded upon each element for this direct-to-video sequel, which is now one part alien invasion; one part martial-arts-infused mayhem.
Los Angeles police officer Mark Corley (Frank Grillo – Mother’s Day, The Purge: Election Year) has taken a leave of absence from the force, following the death of his wife. Struggling with this grief, and unable to connect with his adult son Trent (Jonny Weston – John Dies at the End), who is using his fists as his own coping mechanism, Mark turns to drinking which only exasperates the situation he finds himself in.
After another brawl lands Trent in jail, Mark drives down to the precinct to bail out his son. This would prove to be the least of his problems today… When the engine won’t start up, father and son ditch the car and head to the subway. However, unbeknownst to those below the city, the Los Angeles skyline has illuminated with an unusual blue light. For those unfortunate to look directly into the light, they are transported into a large alien spacecraft traveling above Los Angeles. Within moments, the majority of the city’s population is gone…
In the aftermath, Mark and Trent Corley, along with their fellow subway travelers (including Bojana Novakovic – The Hallow), must survive as the aliens continue to move across the city; feeding off the remnants that remain, isolated from the light above. But when Trent himself is abducted, Mark relentlessly follows. He will fight for his son, and perhaps even take back his planet in the process.
“When it all falls apart, you can surrender on sight. You can run for the exits or you can fight back… to your last breath. Until there’s nothing left.”
Liam O’Donnell displays confidence behind the camera, as he shifts focus to show the alien invasion of Skyline from a fresh perspective. The first-time director has also taken a risk with this sequel; evident just by looking at the ratings given by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to both movies in this franchise. In the United Kingdom, both Skyline and Beyond Skyline were rated 15 by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), but don’t be mistaken… Beyond Skyline is deserving of it’s North American R rating… It is far more violent than its PG-13 predecessor.
The first act of Beyond Skyline takes place in a concurrent timeline to the entirety of Skyline, before kicking into high gear, and rarely slowing down for the remainder of its duration. By the second act, Frank Grillo is on board the spacecraft, assisting the accelerated childbirth of Elaine (Samantha Jean), adapting alien weaponry to his DNA, and fighting alongside an evolved ‘Jarrod’ (Tony Black), before crash-landing in Laos, Southeast Asia for the final act; where Grillo finds himself fighting for survival alongside Indonesian martial artists Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian (The Raid). Uwais and Ruhian were also fight-choreographers for Beyond Skyline; bringing their own silat-infused violence to the fray.
Signature Entertainment’s UK DVD release is somewhat vanilla; featuring only 5.1 surround sound and 2.0 mono soundtracks, along with subtitles for the hard of hearing. Do not let that stop you from picking up this release. Beyond Skyline is, quite frankly, batshit crazy in its approach to expanding the mythology surrounding the, as of yet still unnamed alien invaders. It is almost as if three tonally different short films have been spliced into one. Yet, it works because it is so wild…so out there… Beyond Skyline is an experience.
Liam O’Donnell’s Beyond Skyline is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Signature Entertainment. Release date: 8th January 2018