Genre : SF
Country : UK/China/Canada/Indonesia/Singapore/USA
Frank Grillo : Mark
Bojona Novakovic : Audrey
Jonny Weston : Trent
My opinion on “Beyond Skyline”
“What the hell you think that was, man…terrorists or what, huh?
ISIS doesn’t have a fuckin’ spaceship!”
“Beyond skyline” is without a doubt one of the better low-budget SF films I have seen in recent years. Visually, that is. In terms of content, I thought it was only half successful. Until the part that takes place in Laos, it’s acceptable. From there on story-technically it starts to be pretty absurd. As soon as Mark (Frank Grillo), a police officer on an indefinite leave, and his son Trent (Jonny Weston) end up in a thorny situation with earth being besieged by hostile aliens, the entertainment content of this action-rich SF is enormously high . Earthlings who are sucked into the air en masse. A futuristic spaceship where victims covered with slime regain consciousness and are randomly seized by tentacles that snatch their brains out. Armored Predator-like aliens controled by the implanted human brains. You get all that served in the first half hour.
CGI sometimes is breathtaking.
The film resembles “War of the Worlds” with extraterrestrials who have the same goal as in “Independence Day“. And again a world population that tries to defend itself against an apparently invincible alien race. Of course this movie can’t be compared to these two blockbusters. But still praise for the CGI department because it sometimes was pretty impressive. Maybe they could have made the interior of the spaceship less dark. But the huge creatures which were used to move around with on earth, were beautifully designed. Almost the monsters that disrupted life on earth in “Pacific Rim“.
In Laos it looks kind of absurd.
It’s all fascinating and not boring until the huge spaceship crashes in Laos and Mark, along with train conductor Audrey (Bojana Novakovic), joins a kind of rebel army. These freedom fighters hide in chambers beneath Buddhist-looking Vietnamese temples which survived the bombing of the Vietnam War. Ultimately, it’s just an ordinary drug gang with an American scientist in their midst (I bet he played in “Apocalypse now” as well). Together with this scientist and the amazingly fast growing baby, saved by Mark and Audrey on the alien spaceship, they try to find a solution and thus save mankind. Absurdism surpasses your wildest expectations at that moment.
Not perfect but admirable.
From here on you can witness a self-rebuilding spaceship. And how these seemingly unbeatable and invulnerable-looking space figures are defeated by some Asian martial arts fanatics who are eliminating these armored Predator characters with the help of some Hong Kong Phooey movements. If you saw in the first half how destructive and unbeatable these aliens were, this is pretty ridiculous. So, it’s not that perfect. And you don’t get a real explanation about the reason for this invasion either. And yet it was all enjoyable and admirable what the makers did here. Creating such breathtaking fragments with such a limited budget is already worthy of applause. For the die-hard SF enthusiasts, this is definitely worth to watch.
My rating 5/10
Links : IMDB
Maria- It Was Like A Filipino “John Wick” Persiflage.
She’s still alive.
Lily. Lily’s still alive!
John Wick had a good reason to make things difficult for his former boss. They liquidated his cute dog and stole his car. In the movie “Polar“, Duncan Vizla’s retirement savings were compromised. In this Filipino revenge film, Maria (Christine Reyes) leaves a trail of death and destruction because her former employee has murdered her family. You’d start a killing spree for less. What does she have in common with Wick and Vizla? She’s also a retired assassin who has turned her back on the violent life she led. So expect action-rich and extremely violent scenes that are performed according to an excellent choreography.
Maria aka Lilly.
Maria (or Lilly in her previous life) didn’t just simply retire. She went off the grid in a devious way when she had a crisis of conscience at her last job and refused to butcher an innocent woman and her daughter. Instead, she shot Kaleb (Germaine de Leon), her lover back then, through his kneecap and disappeared forever. That is until the same Kaleb notices her when they are making preparations to kill some governor. From then on the hunt for her is opened. The result of this manhunt is the death of her current husband and her lovely little daughter.
The sweet taste of revenge.
Well, “Maria” isn’t really innovative. Countless revenge films have been made recent years (such as “I spit on your grave“, “Revenge“, “The Equalizer” and of course “John Wick“). Don’t expect a complicated and well-thought-out story in this Philippine action film. The film is actually fairly straightforward. And in the end, it’s only the tough confrontations what’s important in such action films. In “Maria” however, they tried to fill the voids with irrelevant sordid stuff. Every once in a while cheaters and inconvenient witnesses are tortured and massacred. So, the most positive thing you can say about this film is that the fight scenes look slick. The rest, on the other hand, was sometimes too bad for words.
Let’s start with the part that annoyed me immensely. I didn’t mind it to be a Filipino film. Even though I didn’t understand a thing. And those who know me a little bit, know that I hate reading subtitles constantly. I’ve made peace with that. But why did these Filipino conversations have to be alternated with an English sentence? It was as if they had taken the dubbing into their own hands. And it wasn’t just this bilingual nonsense that was annoying. The sound of pronunciation was also toe-curling. It was as if all those Philippines suddenly sounded like Andy Kaufman from “Taxi”. Next, let’s talk about the male actors. Some of them are guilty of theatrical overacting (especially KC Montero masters in this). And I don’t know if this is a tradition among Filipino gangs, but I thought it was fairly bizarre that the male protagonists had female furies to do the dirty work. Although I have to admit those ladies could stand their ground without any problems.
Action flick clichés.
Furthermore, “Maria” is again filled with well-known clichés that are used over and over again in action flicks. The hard rock music. Again stupid gangsters rushing forward like sheep to the slaughter. Of course, a nightclub scene had to be included. Whistling blades. Cracking bones. And the sound effects of hard fist-punches reminded me nostalgically of the better Terence Hill & Bud Spencer films. It was like a Filipino “John Wick” persiflage. Only the charisma and the natural coolness of Keanu Reeves were missing. And finally, I found some scenes were overly stretched (such as the flashbacks).
Imagine Denzel Washington posing like that.
All in all, “Maria” is no more than a B-film with a simplistic storyline and moderate acting. Are you a fan of solid fists and footwork then you will certainly enjoy yourself here. And for those who appreciate exotic women, these exotic beauties look really pretty and are certainly no kittens to tackle without gloves. Why they have to walk around all the time in a kind of aerobic outfit is a mystery to me. And Maria’s posing like a model in the rain after the ultimate fight, I found hilarious. Fortunately, Denzel Washington didn’t do something similar in “The Equalizer“. That would look rather ridiculous!
My rating 4/10
We Die Young – A Fastpaced Gangsta Film That Never Bores
When Rincon started doing his Shakespeare,
you knew some poor bastard’s about to get smoked.
“We Die Young” is not a typical Jean-Claude Van Damme film, where he can show off his trained body. In fact, in this film, the number of times Van Damme is demonstrating his fighting techniques, is almost nil. So don’t expect any splits. Actually, it’s kind of understandable because “The muscles of Brussels” isn’t the youngest anymore. And I can imagine that such efforts are no longer evident.
He’s back again.
There’s one advantage. JcvD concentrates more on the acting part than on the more action-rich part. Films such as “Bloodsport” and “Kickboxer” from the 80s were immensely popular. And I admit that I also look back on that with pleasure. Unfortunately, this successful period was followed by a period with fewer successful films. Such as “Alien Uprising” (probably to please his daughter), “Dragon Eyes” and “Welcome to the Jungle“. After the umpteenth crap movie, my decision was made. Best I avoid JcvD films. Until recently. I couldn’t resist watching “The Bouncer” and was pleasantly surprised. Let me quote myself for a moment: “Just when you think that an icon such as Jean-Claude Van Damme is becoming a caricature of himself and in danger of sinking into oblivion, he surprises you with such a part as in this film. The “Muscles from Brussels” got under my skin with his integer and sensitive acting. ” I couldn’t have said it better.
A war veteran and Latinos.
Naturally, I gave “We die young” a chance. Solely to verify whether he could maintain the same level. And I readily admit that he has wonderfully succeeded in convincing me once again. This time he’s not a bouncer of nightclubs in a Brussels neighborhood, but a retired Afghanistan war veteran. A military past that has left traces in the form of PTSD and a set of damaged vocal cords. The latter issue also ensures that you won’t hear any sound out of Van Damme’s mouth. Daniel (Jean-Claude Van Damme) somehow ended up in a slum near Washington D.C. where Latinos (Mara Salvatrucha or MS-13) are in control. A run-down neighborhood where drug addiction is the source of income for this fully tattooed gang members.
Some more impressive performances.
Next to JcvD also David Castañeda left an impression. His performance as the gang leader and kingpin Rincon is quite impressive. Not only because of his threatening attitude, cruelty, and determination with which he leads his drug gang. But also because he also shows his soft side as guardian of Lucas (Elijah Rodriguez) and Miguel (Nicholas Sean Johnny). And as the protective brother of his physically disabled sister Gabriela (Robyn Cara). The whole story revolves around Lucas who works for Rincon as a drug courier and preferably doesn’t want his younger brother to end up to be part of this gang. When a very important transaction goes wrong, also thanks to the interference of right-hand man Jester (Charlie MacGechan), it’s the start of a nerve-racking and rather action-rich part.
A fastpaced gangsta film that never bores.
Again, don’t expect a typical Van Damme movie. In the end, it’s a rather gloomy film that shows how destructive and dangerous it is to live in a neighborhood controlled by drug gangs. Survival is more the right word because every mistake made, will be punished ruthlessly. This film shows the futureless life of young people there. The title is therefore applicable. Not many can enjoy a long and healthy life in these slums. Of course, you can ask a few questions about “We die young“. Why the hell has Daniel moved there? Was he looking for anonymity? Is he trying to forget about the past? What with his family? Or is he simply alone in this world? Forgotten by those who knew him? Or is it a convenient solution such that he can easily get the painkillers. Those that help him to get rid of delusions and visions? And what about his military skills? Because when it comes to defending, he looks like a klutz. All in all, “We die young” is a must see if you want to see Van Damme again. A fastpaced gangsta film that never bores.
My rating 6.5/10
High Life – Not A Film For The Average Moviegoer
I fear, Willow.
I could drown like a kitten.
It would have been easy.
First you, then me.
The film “High Life” is just as meaningful as the expedition for which those sentenced to death have registered voluntarily. Not very meaningful. I do understand why they have chosen for it. The choice of sitting in a cell and staring emptily into space until the end of days. Or a space journey for many years with a black hole as a final destination from which they will try to produce energy. No wonder they prefer freedom, albeit to a limited extent, than to die in a cell. However, being on board of this ship isn’t exactly fun and quite boring. I’m convinced most of them already regret the fact they volunteered. I’m also surprised that these serious criminals haven’t killed each other yet after a certain period. Most likely out of boredom. Even the footage isn’t something to get excited about. And some of these volunteers are also extremely irritating. In short, I won’t use the words captivating, fascinating and the film title in one and the same sentence.
I’m sure that fans of arty SF films will get excited while watching “High Life“. And when a philosophical message has been incorporated in it, I’m sure there will be others who’ll sit in front of the screen, gasping excitedly. Unfortunately, it also had a sleep-inducing effect on me. It also gave me a feeling of hope. Such hope many visitors of the statue of Mary in Lourdes will envy me for. And that’s the hope for a surprising turn or an action-rich incident that would give the storyline a sudden boost in terms of drama and excitement. Forget it. The story progressed reluctantly without deviating from its boring course and the content remained fairly empty. A bit like this spaceship that moved on steadily deep into infinite and empty outer space.
All respect for Robert Pattinson.
A few words of sincere admiration for Robert Pattinson though. This young actor, better known for his cooperation in the whole “Twilight” saga (something I hate passionately), tries to break away with this notorious past in his own way. After his contribution to “The Last City of Z“, where he was practically unrecognizable thanks to his immense, rough beard, and “The Rover“, he again tries to play an unusual role in a non-commercial film. However, you can’t really call this role brilliant since his character is fairly silent and withdrawn. Even though that shaved para-command hairstyle suggests he’s someone with a short fuse. The beginning of the film shows him as a caring father who takes care of his baby daughter on an apparently abandoned space ship. It’s only after flashbacks that we find out what happened during this suicide mission.
Intercourse is forbidden. Let’s create a fuck-box.
The opposite of Monte you’ll get to know in the person of the fairly crazy and slightly aggressive scientist Dibs (Juliette “The 33” Binoche). Her presence transforms this space journey into an experimental trip. She certainly wouldn’t have been out of place as a camp doctor in a concentration camp during the Second World War. The crew is used as human guinea pigs to optimize the reproduction process. How she gets a satisfactory result later in the film, is too bizarre to believe. However, after you’ve seen her erotic act, that takes place in a dark room (where the crew members can fulfill their sexual fantasies), it’s not so surprising that she used that controversial method. That steamy erotically charged scene reminded me of the game “Virtual Valerie” for the Macintosh, one way or another.
Not for the average moviegoer.
All the time I had this feeling as if I was watching an unfinished end product. A paper-thin idea around which a very artistic-looking film was embroidered. However, it’s nothing more than a psychological study of conflicts between people in an enclosed space and the way in which their survival instinct emerges. Erotic scenes alternate with fairly violent events. And in between, many moments of reveries and soundless aesthetically pleasing film moments. “High Life” is not a film for the average moviegoer. For that, it’s doing a little too much to be arty. It’s not easy to follow and also ends with a non-explanatory final scene. What remains is one conclusion and one unresolved question. First of all a deep bow for Robert Pattinson who has grown as an actor and distances himself from his adolescent audience. And the pressing question that remains: could someone explain to me scientifically why it is that the corpses which Monte throws out the ship, actually fall down? That’s something that intrigues me.
My rating 4/10
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