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Beyond Skyline (2017) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

BEYOND SKYLINE
Director: Liam O’Donnell
Writer: Liam O’Donnell
Stars: Frank Grillo,  Bojana Novakovic,  Jonny Weston

Plot:  A tough-as-nails detective embarks on a relentless pursuit to free his son from a nightmarish alien warship.

Running Time: 1 hour 46 Minutes

IMDB Score: 5.4

Why I Watched It: The cast, I’m a huge fan of Frank Grillo.

Random Thoughts: I saw the first movie Skyline and to be honest it wasn’t very good an mostly boring and I don’t recall a lot about it but I do remember enough to know this is a very loose sequel, title and a basic plot but nothing else.

What I Liked: This is a very strange but oddly entertaining movie, my goodness this film has everything and the kitchen sink.  I wasn’t sure what I was getting into and what I got was a very action Sci-Fi film, it’s almost three movies in one it doesn’t all work but no one is sleep walking and the film does have a good tone and energy to it.

As I’ve said many times I’m a fan of Frank Grillo but he’s getting typecast as a hard bitten but flawed cop and a guy who’s in B-Movies, now he makes the movie better but I do wish he got better material, he’s good here cause not only does he get to act but he also fights and gets to show he can be a very effective physical actor.  He’s really the glue that holds this very strange plot together.

I say this film is odd  and strange because it is, and I think it’s a hard movie to describe cause he goes all over the place but it never loses the story or the characters.  The film has it’s problems but the film looks pretty good for the budget and also this has a huge scope this starts off as a small story and gets real big real fast.

I also have to hand it to them for not only random casting but global casting, any film that has Grillo then adds two actors from The Raid, Uwais, Ruhian, Bojana Novakovic and Huggy Bear from the old Startsky and Hutch series I mean how can you now like that cast in a action Sci-Fi.  The cast is the best part all do their best and of course the two Raid actors get to do some fighting and a hi-light we get Grillo fight Uwais.

I liked the look of the aliens and also the story, it’s out there but harvesting human brains so they can put them into robot workers is different and I liked it and they did some twists with it, how yeah I forgot to mention there’s also a quick growing baby that might be the solution to the alien attack/invasion.  See truly it has something for everyone.

What I Didn’t Like: I won’t call it a mess but it’s close, I think they tried way too much stuff and some of that stuff just didn’t fit as well they did stick some round pegs into square holes here, but God love them for trying and not being cookie cutter but the film does have some large plot holes and the tone and energy changes a couple of times, there in LA then in an Alien spacecraft then back to earth it’s a crazy ride.

There’s something else that I didn’t dislike but did not understand at one point Grillo sticks his hand in something in the alien craft and gets “weaponized” not sure how and not sure what it did but it also goes away then he does it again.  There’s times when the film edges to the silly and they loose the handle on the plot and actions.

The ending is over the top and it’s really the only time the film relies on cliches, it’s fine but the film does drag and the ending doesn’t have the impact it should.

Final Thoughts: I love genre films and I at times really love flawed genre films and Beyond Skyline is flawed but fun I enjoyed the ride.

Rating: 6/10

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Project Almanac (2015) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

PROJECT ALMANAC

Director: Dean Israelite
Writers: Jason Pagan (as Jason Harry Pagan), Andrew Deutschman
Stars: Jonny Weston, Amy Landecker, Sofia Black-D’Elia, Virginia Gardner

“Project Almanac” is about a bunch of teenagers finding and building a time machine after David Raskin (Jonny Weston) discovers shocking footage of his present self in a video of his 7th Birthday party from ten years previously. Using the “found footage” technique to me was a little off putting but the opening 15 minutes kept me intrigued as the storyline was interesting enough.

Finding and building a time machine doesn’t come easy as David uncovers his fathers buried government work (in the family basement) complete with blueprints etc and along with two other technical geniuses Quinn Goldberg (Sam Lerner) and Adam Le (Allen Evangelista). “Project Almanac” really tries to explain the technical difficulties of time travel and how to overcome and manipulate the process.

Previous time travel movies haven’t really gone into the logistics and functions of making time travel possible as the audience doesn’t really care how it works but more interested in the rules, the process itself and the consequences. HG Wells Time Machine (1960) explains the space time continuum involving space and time briefly in its opening ten minutes before we are whisked off to fight the Morlocks with Rod Taylor. Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future (1985) controls time with a Delorean, a Flux Capacitor and a case of Plutonium whilst Ashton Kutcher manipulates the past with his mind, blackouts and journals in The Butterfly Effect (2003)

After a build up of 45 minutes “Project Almanac” has a few tried and failed attempts before it works. I really was beginning to get bored at this point and felt the movies pacing was all wrong. The running time of this movie was 105 minutes and for the first 45 minutes apart from the video footage there really isn’t anything there that couldn’t just been condensed into 15 minutes. There was also contradictions in the time travel process as we see the character Quinn resit his science exam 4 times by leaping back to the event to get it right with the others waiting in the wings to see the outcome in the same spot in the same location without duplicating themselves with previous versions of themselves. Also, apparently time travel allows you to magically appear in a different space to where you began and transports you to a music festival with backstage passes and also allows you to appear on stage with your favourite artist and they don’t mind you joining them on stage.

I felt all the characters were undeveloped two dimensional and hardly change during the duration of the movie. The main character David is the only one that slightly changes as the film progresses. The other characters Quinn, Adam, Jessie, Christina seem to be in there for nothing more than convenience. None of this really helped the actors of course as they came off wooden and I felt we’re going through the motions at times with unnatural reactions to discovering time travel.

Director Dean Israelite uses the so called “found footage” technique and it does very little with it and i felt it seems to just cover up bad editing (the cuts are executed poorly and sometimes confusing) and camera-work. Israelite is directing this years Power Rangers movie and it will be interesting to see how he fairs on a more traditional filming process in this franchise.

The visuals faired better in the movie thanks to Eran Barnea who has previously worked with ILM on Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) and Spider-Man 2 (2004) and both of these movies are remembered for their visual effects more so than their storylines.

Another standout was of course the soundtrack and music editing by Kevin McKeever who has previously worked on World War Z (2013) and xXx: Return of Zander Cage (2017) both the editing and how the music was used in this movie cannot be faulted although I would have preferred some score in in the movie which unfortunately wouldn’t and couldn’t work thanks to the “found footage” style of filmmaking.

I think overall, this movie was quite average and messy at times, as the opening 15 minutes promises so much and doesn’t really go anywhere and you are left waiting a long time before any time travel is achieved. Unless you like this kind of movies I do not suggest you watch it as the only ones I feel have lost track of time is the audience.