Space cadets

A human-alien hybrid is tasked with combatting a deadly virus in Skylines

Action, science fiction, rated R, 113 minutes, Apple TV, iTunes, Amazon Prime, FandangoNOW, 2.5 chiles

Rose Corley is not human. Or at least she isn’t wholly human: She’s a human-alien hybrid. When she’s tasked with blasting an invading alien mothership, she hesitates. She’d be killing thousands of her own race.

That’s the backstory, narrated by Grant ( James Cosmo), a gruff one-eyed survivor from the war between Earth and the aliens. Cosmo has the voice for narration: deep, resonant, and affecting. But the prologue is over quickly so that Skylines can launch full-tilt in a CGI spectacle of action and adventure. The backstory is helpful if you haven’t seen the previous two entries in director Liam O’Donnell’s Skyline trilogy: Skyline (2010) and Beyond Skyline (2017).

Judging from the scathing critical reviews of the first two productions, Skylines might just be a series conclusion that no one really wanted. But the series gets better as it goes along. Critic Nick Allen, writing for RogerEbert.com, wrote that the first film “maintains its unique position in bad movie history as the unlikely boondoggle that somehow made you want to see a sequel.”

Corley (Lindsey Morgan) is wracked by her conscience over her past actions and has retreated into hiding. But her help is desperately needed to combat a spreading virus that threatens to turn a friendly group of hybrids against what’s left of the human race. Possessed of superpowers that make her the only being on Earth capable of successfully combating the alien force, Corley must lead an elite group of mercenaries to the alien planet, Cobalt One, in search of the core drive to the alien mothership she thought she destroyed. Apparently, the powerful technology in the core is capable of restoring the alien hybrids’ health before they revert to their primitive, murderous ways.

Corley is the last recruit for the team assembled by General Radford (Alexander Siddig) to undertake the mission. Cue Corley’s introduction to the muscle-bound, crew-cut team of expert fighters, demonstrating their skills at martial arts.

It’s all rather run-of-the-mill for space opera and takes itself too seriously. The plot is trite and threadbare. But the action is fun, and it boasts some incredible effects work, rendered with a cool visual style that’s a throwback to its Technicolor sci-fi betters (like War of the Worlds). The insectoid alien hybrids are reminiscent of the creatures in District 9, only sleeker and with glowing blue eyes. The film is awash in purple and blue light. Still, Skylines is passable science fiction fare at best, and not particularly memorable. In an era where science fiction films are tripping over themselves to present audiences with intriguing ideas about time travel and what it really means to be human, Skylines pays them only lip service. Just go with it. Don’t think too hard, and you might enjoy the ride. 

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