Average Sci-Fi Horror Just Beyond the Skylines (2020)
First Wide Release: December 18, 2020 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: Liam O’Donnell
Writer: Matthew E. Chausse, Joshua Cordes, Liam O’Donnell
Runtime: 113 Minutes
Starring: Lindsey Morgan, Jonathan Howard, Daniel Bernhardt
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
After suffering terrible losses, humans finally defeat the alien menace that threatened to annihilate their species off of Earth. Years later, a mysterious virus emerges that transforms humans into alien-hybrids who struggle to fight off the side effects. Rose (Lindsey Morgan) is responsible for the victory against the aliens, but she has been in hiding after making a choice that cost thousands of lives. She is arrested and tapped to lead a team of mercenaries on a mission to stop the virus and save humanity once again.
The charming third entry in the trilogy no one anticipated would launch, Skylines offers serviceable sci-fi thrills.
Tonally different from the first two films, Skylines struggles to find its footing. The first is dark and confined, definitely more horror-esque, while the second is the perfect balance of action, horror, and sci-fi. This last one leans more heavily on sci-fi and action, but it does have some gruesome moments here and there that still give it enough horror cred. Regardless, the lack of identity hurts Skylines as it is hard to invest in a film that doesn’t devote its time and resources in a strategic manner.
Furthermore, it is predictable and underdeveloped, waffling between excitement and stagnation between two equally contrived narratives. Relying mostly on plot conveniences that quickly begin to add up and the novelty of the alien-human hybrid angle, it doesn’t do much good in ending the franchise. The characters are largely nothing special, aside from some hilarious subtitled lines from alien hybrid Trent. The only moments of joy in the film involve him cursing liberally in indistinct alien chatter while the rest of the characters manage to understand him somehow.
With some tighter editing and cuts, Skylines could easily be a lean, obscene, alien carnage machine. The bloat largely comes from a wide cast of characters and an additional subplot that adds very little to the overall film. There’s just too much going on physically to be an enjoyable or interesting enough experience for most moviegoers. An opposite problem is just how static the script is in comparison. There’s often empty space and leisurely strolls through dialogue and action that makes the film feel strangely empty at times.
Obviously, it isn’t all bad. I found myself charmed by the unwavering respect Liam O-Donnell gives his vision for the trilogy. It’s a wonderfully weird franchise that most never would have expected to take off like this. The strength behind the film lies almost entirely in its stunning effects work and interesting visuals. The aliens are realistic and powerful without looking or feeling too hokey. Visuals are often accompanied by bright and exuberant reds, blues, and purples, adding a complementary sweetness to the adrenaline rush filmmaking behind it.
Once you get past the silliness of the world created, Skylines is a fun throwback to the sci-fi of old. Its ambitions are large and that is something to celebrate. There’s plenty of room in the genre for the wacky and unabashedly “out there” films. It definitely isn’t a favorite of mine, but Skylines is certainly a fine way to end the trilogy of decidedly average franchise. I look forward to seeing what stories O’Donnell tells next, hopefully with some more studio faith and backing.
Skylines isn’t setting the world on fire and it’s likely that the creators behind it know that. Pure pop-corn fun filled with explosions, questionable science, and alien one-liners, Skylines closes out the trilogy on a nice, light note, which is a clear deviation away from its more downbeat predecessors. Entertaining enough and expansive in its scope, Skylines is sure to satiate fans of the series while maintaining accessibility for new viewers. It won’t save the world, but Skylines is sure to adequately save your Thursday evening from boredom if you choose to stream it directly into your living room.
Overall Score? 5.5/10