A truly entertaining movie must have several key elements: Kung Fu, robots, spaceships, aliens, strong female leads, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, freaky eyeballs, Liam Neeson, massive metric shit-tons of CGI, aliens, robots, and robots.
While the 'Skyline' franchise is notable in its lack of Liam Neeson and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, it has everything else. No plot to speak of, average acting, serious continuity issues and really iffy writing, but seriously who cares. It is the best 'evil invading aliens' movie since E.T.
But where E.T. has to be carried around in a bicycle basket to wreak his malign will on an unsuspecting world, the aliens in Skyline have a biomechanical mothership the size of the town I live in and uglier than the one the Romulan mining crew was tooling around in during the first Star Trek re-boot. I mean this thing is all black and spidery and pointy and dangly and, and, with all tentacles, and strange lights, and writhing wormy thingies and long clawlike structures, ominous and floaty and generally just a flying myocardial infarction, an 'OMFG RUN, I am pretty sure they don't mean us well, HIDE NOW' kind of evil alien spaceship. Seriously, it's the best evil alien spacecraft in decades of moviemaking! I am STOKED on this thing!
So the outside of the mothership is freaky-scary, right, I've established that; but the inside is absolutely revolting. It's disgusting-scary, which makes it even better. Nobody has cleaned a thing in this spaceship in a long, long time. Things have been let go. It's not all techno and weapony looking, it's all dark and rotted and insecty and diseased looking. In a phrase, like the medicam video taken during Satans' last colorectal exam.
Oh heck, I'll indulge myself here.
Take the liquified contents of a freezer found in an abandoned house plus the contents of a seafood warehouse where the power has been out for a month, and a big pit full of corpses past their expiration date. Supersize that. Dump it all in a heap, surround and invade it with jagged metal walls, strakes, spikes and gantries, throw in some holograms and energy beams - and then run a bunch of vaguely insectile mega - chambers and passages throughout that heap of gak with no thought for ease of use or uniformity, AND THEN populate the whole motherfucker with random hovering tentacled biodrones that look like fish guts mixed with spiders and windshield wipers and have multiple freaky eyeballs! All those things do is just float around the ship looking for intruders - no spoilers, but they like intruders. In a 'let me just harvest some of your parts' kind of way.
Now, 'Skyline' is just a group of people in a large city running and hiding. But they have a lot to run from, because these aliens are really dedicated to their takeover agenda. They deploy all different types of shit on our asses. Large seeker craft, small drone flyer spies, capture/harvester organisms, scrambly crawly stabby things and more, and every single one of them have multiple freaky eyeballs, tentacles, pointy stabby parts, dangly intestine thingies, ovipositors, machine arms, mechanical parts, antigravity fields and a compulsor-beam with the ability to make you get freaky eyeballs too!
Skyline is a B movie with (a staggering amount of flaws, actually) two major flaws - a romance subplot, and the fact that it ends on a really weird, unexpected note. Which is fine. We can't all be ballerinas, Brenda. But wait! There's a sequel that will explain that weird ending. The thing that both these movies have that most science fiction doesn't are some really odd plot decisions and twists that you just don't find in sci fi. It could be a result of poor writing, it could be the result of writing by committee, or making it up as they went along. What was clearly a weakness turned out, oddly, to be the thing that made them stand out from the pack for me.
Beyond Skyline takes us rather abruptly from Los Angeles to Laos. Why Laos? Because why the fuck not Laos, dammit. And once they get to Laos, as you might expect, the kung fu gets rippin' because we are in The East and that's what happens. There are some red hot kung fu sequences, too; fast, fluid, vicious, and precise.
And remember, we are still dealing with all the alien technology we met and were freaked out by in the first movie, but with MORE BUDGET SPENT. You get a whole tour of the mothership, which is frankly a horrific unsanitary place that desperately needs a good hosing down. Every new space is grosser or weirder or more mysterious than the last, but it's incredible too. This ship is clearly more than half alive.
And that's what I like best about these two movies. Someone had an incredible vision here and they were let loose and ran butt-wild on it. It all looks truly, genuinely ALIEN. (And those sets must have been a bastard to try and film inside of too, because there is a lot of yech going on.) It manages to be technological and biological and utterly alien throughout - a triumph of some twisted souls' imagination. No otherworldly spacecraft has ever been more freaky, frightening, and absolutely not of this world since the one in, well, Alien (RIP HR Giger)
The other thing I like about these two movies is that you get to go up close and personal with the aliens. You see inside their ship, you see their methods, you get a real good idea of why they're here and what they want - but not everything is explained because it's too damn alien to explain! You see what I'm getting at here? These are aliens! Why do they have a room full of dangling egg sacs full of icky squealing things and jagged girders? Because they're ALIENS! Why does one battle cybersuit look like Independence Day and the other one look like Cthulhu? Because they're ALIENS! Their sense of decorating and standards of cleanliness and where to stick a sudden chitinous air shaft decorated with hula fringe and dangling bodies is the product of ALIEN THOUGHT PROCESSES.
Again, the acting is average, the script is really average, the budget went into sets and effects and that's entirely OK. It didn't have a romance subplot, which is a plus in my book, because who cares about romance in the middle of an alien goddamn invasion? It's all about the action/horror here.
Neither of these movies are the best science fiction movie you will ever see in your life, but they will be among the most entertaining trashy science fiction movies you've ever seen, two excellent guilty pleasures. Think Roger Corman with more money, modern technology and a smidge more taste.
So. My ratings, on a scale of 1 being shitty and 10 being excellent:
Kung Fu - 10
Spaceship - 10+
Strong female leads - 5
An almost fanatical devotion to the Pope - 1
Freaky eyeballs - 10
Liam Neeson - 1
Massive metric shit-tons of CGI - 10
Robots - 10
Muk At The Movies rates Skyline and Beyond Skyline as MUST SEE NOW.
Not ONE of of you better say 'Oh, I don't do crappy space movies because they make me spill my Earl Grey and I have sophisticated adult tastes and read Herman Hesse and do the New York Times Crossword puzzle in pen' because you need to pull the stick out, people. A life spent without indulging in some pure, dumb fun is too grim to imagine. Plus freaky eyeballs.