Sit comatose through the first 80-minutes of Beyond Skyline if you have to. The finale is worth it. There you’ll find The Raid’s Indonesian star Iko Uwais duke it out with aliens with his boutique of martial arts skills. Even the aliens start kicking and punching, this while two super-sized monster aliens smash Buddhist landmarks.
Beyond Skyline is impossibly stupid. It seems to know as much. A massive action tease before the end credits fades to black, a segue into a goofy blooper reel. That sense of awkward humor isn’t part of the main feature, sadly. Beyond Skyline plays itself straight, intertwined slightly with the forgettable sci-fi drama of 2010’s Skyline.
Aliens arrive, they suck up the population of Los Angeles, but make the mistake of snagging Frank Grillo. They take his troubled teen son too. That’s a strategic mistake. Grillo arms himself and starts taking out creatures; sometimes they’re convincing suits, other times less convincing digital art.
The story moves from Los Angeles to communist Laos, dropping Grillo into the Laotian drug trade and a few hand-to-hand fights. Beyond Skyline rarely considers coherency. It’s more about what might appear cool on camera or in trailers. One second, Grillo and Uwais rumble in mud. The next, they join as best buds out to save humanity.
Somewhere in this script is a feeble religious parable. Humans floating upward toward white light has biblical leanings. A hippie scientist suggest the invaders originally put us here, making them humanity’s gods. Then we evolved. Turns out the galactic man-makers didn’t plan for that.
Beyond Skyline is pure cinematic camp
Beyond Skyline is pure cinematic camp
In a better movie, maybe something comes of that. Not Beyond Skyline though. Levels of preposterous action goes beyond the sci-fi invasion. Beyond Skyline is pure cinematic camp. By the end, any sensible rules get tossed wayside. A small pocket of Laotian rebels arm themselves with rocket launchers, machetes, assault rifles, and alien armor to take on these unwelcome visitors. And of course, because this is an Asian land, everyone knows martial arts. It might be vaguely racist were it not so ludicrously entertaining in the dopiest way possible.
If there’s an intriguing idea in Skyline lore, Beyond Skyline isn’t interested. The plot uses mere colors to explain concepts, a red vs blue stand-off. The aliens exist as pure evil, humans as unflinching good. No exploration of alien culture, mere guesses as to why they need human brains, and bunk science to evolve a hero for the third Skyline, assuming there is one. Let’s hope not.
This is not a good disc. Shot digitally with the Red Epic, the level of artifacts resembles a cable broadcast in spots. Large chunks of visible compression data fill the shadows. Excessive banding appears in smoke. Beyond Skyline looks more like a late generation DVD at times. It’s unacceptable.
Color grading shifts to a dominate blue (until crashing in Laos), sucking the life from contrast. Pale, gray/blue shadows rob Beyond Skyline of depth. Once on the ground with Uwais, a bit of warmth seeps into the image, along with bright greenery. Then, the resistance team moves underground into a faded bunker where all of the other visual muddiness returns.
Minimal detail suggests dulled resolution at the source. Maybe it’s the compression. City exteriors lack definition, and medium shots fail in providing adequate sharpness. Beyond Skyline looks more like a DVD than even the compression suggests.
Mixed exceedingly low (requiring a volume bump 10 notches over the usual reference level), a feeble audio mix is denied discreet channel work and delivers loose bass. Action scenes do spread into positional channels via this DTS-HD track, although without standing out. Debris fields wash over the surrounds, if with minimal separation from the fronts.
Another choice is PCM 2.0 stereo, suggesting Beyond Skyline wasn’t designed for 5.1. The end results sound like a stereo remix, messily updated.
It’s surprising the disc has a menu as there’s nothing here.
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