[Movie Review] SKYLINES
SKYLINES l Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment
SKYLINES is the third and final installment of the Skyline trilogy, directed by Beyond Skyline director/writer Liam O’Donnell. Lindsey Morgan stars as Rose Corley, the all-grown-up deus ex machina baby of the second movie, now a reluctant hero.

Taking a departure from the first movie (condo, hypno-lights, brain-sucking aliens, and hybrid savior) and the second movie (Los Angeles- err, no, rural Laos, hypno-lights, drug cartels, super baby, martial arts, brain-sucking aliens, hybrid savior), this one is…IN SPACE!

We learn quickly that Rose, former super-baby, is now an adult, had a chance to defeat the aliens, but choked and killed a lot of people in the process. Now, she wanders around as a nomad with no past and no future…for a hot second before she’s caught, brought back to her alien brother, and told she’s the only thing that can save the world…again.

This time, the “pilots” (the alien/human hybrids) are becoming infected by a dangerous and mysterious virus that makes them lose control of their brains, reverting them back to their alien tendencies. The only possible way to save them is by getting a McGuffin (located conveniently far away in space) and there just happens to be a crew put together for Rose to lead (cue Rick and Morty’s “you son of a bitch, I’m in” mini-montage).

So, the crew set out for space. Meanwhile, there’s a doctor back on Earth that’s working on a cure and she’s got a helper. There’s also an old man…

Well, anyway, space and space aliens!

Still from SKYLINES l Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

Will this sassy, smart-talkin’, reluctant-hero, tough-girl-with-a-heart-of-gold figure out who she is and defeat the bad aliens to save the human/aliens?

So, I think it might be apparent from my summary that this movie wasn’t for me, which is sad because it definitely should have been for me. I love action alien flicks, including the popcorn ones. I get a thrill from cheesy team-ups and one-liners. I enjoy fun and interesting alien worlds to explore and kick ass in!

As chaotic as the second one was, this movie went even harder, doubling-down on the prior challenges that it failed to meet.

I like the idea of the final movie set in space, of the exploration of these aliens and her “heritage”, but the plot became muddled with the virus, the Earth scenes, and fighting scenes featuring bland characters before getting to the McGuffin. Every time we began to explore more of Rose as a character, it would pull back to another subplot or character, so the best she ever became as a character was a quip-machine with moments of gravity that fell flat or never went anywhere. We never see her full struggle, and so she is sometimes just background in her own story. And Lindsey Morgan’s acting isn’t to blame. She does a good job. But I think most of it lies in writing, editing, and direction.

There is just so much SKYLINES tries to cover, that there is no room for breath, subtlety, or appreciation, which I actually found more of in the first movie than its sequels. Actions don’t have consequences because it’s onto the next thing, the next line, the next betrayal, the next martial arts scene, the next magic-glow punch, etc.

Still from SKYLINES l Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

The ironic thing is that the most real and engaging moments of the whole film are in the out-takes. We see the acting loosen, the people become more likable and relatable, and it’s fun to watch. I wish that SKYLINES would have been open to more humor, and poked at its hubris and space-opera potential. We would have had something more genuine and resonating, which is what makes the greatest movies, regardless of how much money and special effects are at their disposal.

Sometimes the journey is in the struggle, and this movie doesn’t struggle in the ways that it really needed to.

However, there were some fun moments that I enjoyed. Trent (Jeremy Fitzgerald) was a delight as a character and was easily my favorite. The score was terrific and moved extremely well with the film (hats off to Ram Khatabakhsh). The scenes and color palettes while in the alien vessel were bright and very visually engaging. And I honestly think those were my favorite scenes because it was…well, alien-looking and vibrant from the black and greys. It made it exciting to watch and when I think back, those are the most vivid memories.

If you enjoyed Beyond Skyline, you will probably think SKYLINES is a worthy addition and conclusion. But if you’re wistful for the condo-sized, more-developed days of Skyline, you’re probably better off looking towards the hypno-light.

SKYLINES arrives in select theaters and On-Demand on December 18, 2020.

J.M. Brannyk
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