Beyond Skyline (2017)
A sequel you didn't know you wanted.
Do you all remember that little movie about the people trapped in the high-rise during an alien invasion? To be honest, I forgot most about it as well - I recall thinking it wasn't a bad movie, but beyond that and some minor tidbits here and there, it wasn't a strong enough impression that through the years and figurative thousands of movies I've viewed since that there was any memory real estate left. Then a buddy of mine told me they were making a sequel - and I promptly forgot about that until browsing the queue for new DVDs to add in my Netflix subscription. Then while waiting for it, they put it on streaming, so it got bumped up the list quite a bit when I forgot to send out my last return in time to get a new one this week. Tonight, we get to see just what's beyond the skyline.
There is quite the genre shift between this and the last one. I very much remember the last being a spooky, mysterious, horror style affair. Although we do start with some of that, this movie is much, much more an action flick - and it's something that wouldn't hurt to know going in first. The whole "tempering of expectations" - if you watched it because you like the universe, than it doesn't matter, but if you went in because you wanted more of the spook of the first, you may find yourself quickly off-put when the movie gets in full swing. That being said, the start of the movie does occur pre-invasion, so some of the mysterious horror elements still get maintained to avoid genre shock. A good portion of it even felt incredibly familiar - down to that one person who just can't seem to get a break from that mysterious blue light.
Of course, there isn't very much overlap between the first and second when it comes to cast. We may see a few key individuals who play some form of importance to the plot - but most of this importance is less them and more with ideas and function that they set up by being there. It's also after they leave the movie that we take a pretty hard step into the action/adventure genre. The story itself does help explain some different elements - like what the light is - without actually explaining it at the same time. I believe the phrase went something like "it's like X, Y, Z, but it's none of those things." Beyond this, the lack of super-hard science isn't a big drawback for me, as getting heavily weighed down in real world chemistry and physics would feel a bit too much like schooling for me - I'm all for learning things, but I'd rather my movie just entertain me.
The other large difference here is the setting. We start in the city, and move to the ship as though it was the first, but it's much more diverse. We get tunnels, buildings, cityscapes and harbors before we even get to the ship, and then the entire final portion ends up in a pretty southeast Asian area where (according to the subtitles) everyone is speaking laotian. It's here that we start getting into the more martial arts action movie vibes, but even within this setting we get jungle, town, and a very classy stone temple complex complete with it's own tunnels. It really helps to give a bit of a less claustrophobic view of the events going on in comparison to the first, and no character really ends up feeling shoe-horned in because of it.
The effects here are wide ranging. Ships, explosions, lights, and the more gore-oriented bits all look well done. The alien design reigns from the last one, and thanks to some rather funny bloopers at the credit roll, we also get to see that at the very least the more humanoid aliens are practical suits. This doesn't stop some of the moments involved with them from looking rather off (a hand-touch towards the end looks particularly wonky for some reason), but in general I do enjoy the design of the aliens even with their color-coded eyes indicating rather obviously if they are friends or foe. There's some care taken into setting things up - such as showing that the larger aliens are piloted by the humanoid ones - that end up popping up here and there, and even the purely CG elements most of the time look quite well done. Again, every now and then there's that one effect that doesn't look super convincing, but it never impacted the enjoyment of the film.
The actors do a pretty well rounded job here as well. There was a moment or two where a line felt like it could have been more convincingly delivered, but for the most part it's presentable enough that it feels like everyone knows what they are doing when it comes to acting. Some of the characters feel wholly less developed than others, but when you look at it from the action movie perspective you don't generally expect Shakespearean levels of character building. The male lead of the movie gets enough put into him that he doesn't feel as though he shouldn't be capable of anything he does, even if he can feel generic as much as anyone else in the movie - such as the blind war vet. Their audio comes across clean and understandable - well, except the bits in a foreign language, but I had subtitles for that anyways.
Hard pressed to put it into acting or effects, but the action scenes are also nicely done. There is a bit of shake in there that I don't really feel needed to be in a few scenes (it would make more sense in situations where things where exploding over a fist fight for example), but otherwise it was pretty easy to keep track of what was going on. One could argue that that was a bit of fists creating friends going on at some points, where people would quickly end up joining up with each other for plot reasons - but one would also like to think that when faced with being harvested up by aliens people would get their acts together and be friendly. That said, the later portion of the movie is more of a hands-on action orientation, with plenty of martial arts between whatever mix of the species it feels like - human on human, or alien, or alien on alien. It ends up giving plenty of fun in that regard, and quite honestly gives you something you didn't even realize that you wanted that badly after having seen the first.
This guy was a hoot. It took and threw me right back in from the start, half expecting me to believe this is more of a reboot of the original until it points out this is all just a side-line of what happened in the first until it extends beyond the first, much like it's title implies. It's got plenty of action to make up for some alright characters, and the effects are largely better than they are worse. If you're in the market for some more alien invasion action, this one certainly shouldn't fail at entertaining.