Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Skylines: Now It’s a Trilogy

Even when you are operating on a galactic scale, it is easier to win the war than win the peace. That is the position Earthlings are in. In the original Skyline, the aliens came and kicked our butts. Then in Beyond Skyline, we got up and booted them off Earth. We took our planet back, but to preserve the peace, we will need much more energy. You know who has a nifty, super-powerful and portable generator? Right, the old mother ship. Reluctantly, Rose Corley and her physically altered brother agree to go take it and maybe settle a few more old scores while they’re at it in Liam O’Donnell’s Skylines (or Skylin3s), which opens this Friday in a few persistent theaters and on Apple TV.

Rose Corley was born while her mother was in alien captivity, so somehow her physiology was mutated in the process. She became the aliens’ Achilles heel, who led the Earth forces to their ultimate victory. Unfortunately, it was not a clean win. There was a lot of collateral damage, because she froze at a key moment. Nevertheless, she is Earth’s best warrior, thanks to her
X-Men-ish powers, so hard-charging General Radford recruits her back into active service.

Earth needs power to fight a mysterious virus that is driving previously re-awakened “pilots,” humans who were captured and mutated into alien drones, violently mad. Corley has a personal stake, since her big brother Trent is also a pilot, who has yet to be infected. However, Corley is not sure she can trust the rest of Radford’s team, especially Owens, the overtly hostile commander.

Beyond Skyline
is up there with Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Evil Dead II as sequels that are considerably better than their original predecessors. Skylin3s is not quite as good as Beyond (because it is tough to beat the combo of Iko Uwais, Frank Grillo, and Yayan “Mad Dog” Ruhian), but it is still pretty strong from an action perspective. Only Ruhian returns, appearing (too briefly) this time as Huana, a crazy but heroic mutant fighter. (Although Grillo’s Mark Corley is missing, his absence is explained in a way that might allow for his later return.)

Nevertheless, Daniel Bernhardt (who starred in the
Bloodsport direct-to-DVD sequels) and Cha-Lee Yoon (doing double duty as the film’s stunt coordinator) maintain Skylin3s’ martial arts credibility. Bernhardt also glowers menacingly as Owens, while Yoon plays Zhi, the medic, so you know this crew must be hardnosed.

The action is cool but the sibling relationship between Rose and Trent is another strong point for the film. In fact, you have to give Lindsey Morgan credit for conveying a good deal of chemistry with the alien-looking Trent, played Chewbacca-style by stunt performer Jeremy Fitzgerald. That dynamic really adds depth to the film. Unfortunately, Alexander Siddig is underwhelming as Radford, but Bernhardt brings enough villainy for the both of them.

Regardless, the effects are sufficiently professional and the stunt work is top-notch. It is clearly a meathead movie, but it is also a great deal of fun. Enthusiastically recommended for fans of sf-martial arts hybrids,
Skylines opens this Friday (12/18) at the Fabian 8 in Patterson, NJ and simultaneously releases on Apple TV.