Movie Review: “Skylines” goes all “Starship Troopers” in its third outing

There are outtakes at the end of “Skylines,” aka “Skylin3s,” cast members crack up at all the silly, pithy, cliche one-liners common to the sci-fi action genre.

That’s fitting, because there’s no sterner test than keeping a straight face while delivering the following.

“No rush. Just the end of the world.”

“We’re not in Kansas any more!”

“Wormhole travel is extremely dangerous!

“Oh, so you have HALF a plan!”

“No one’s talking to YOU, honey!”

“Death or glory, corporal!”

“Brace yourself! HOLD ON!”

The third film in this decade-old franchise is slow. So slow. It’s a joked-up mash-up of “District 9” and “Starship Troopers.” The buggy “harvesters” who invaded, and whose “pilots” split from them in “Beyond Skyline” to live with us on Earth and help keep the harvesters at bay, must be dealt with one more time. They’ve got to be attacked on their home planet.

Let’s call it “Cobalt One,” because it’s so blue.

The human/alien hybrid Rose (Lindsey Morgan) who “froze” in mid-attack during “Beyond Skyline” is tracked down to add to this combat team. The object is retrieving “the core drive” something-or-other which will keep the pilots from dying off, and lashing out to “harvest” the planet again as they do.

Complicated? Enough. But there’s more. Rose has “powers.” And she has a full-on alien brother, thanks to the way their dad (Frank Grillo, seen in flashbacks) rolled. Rose and bug pilot Trent are on the team together, classic bickering siblings.

“Need a hand? I brought thumbs!”

While this team, led by General Radford (Alexander Siddig) with Col. Owen (Daniel Bernhardt) providing the boots-on-the-ground firepower, transits the wormhole and hunts for the magical talisman, Dr. Mal (B-movie queen Rhona Mitra) is living among the starving masses, working on a serum that would, apparently, accomplish the same thing. No wormholes needed.

Huh.

Say it with us, Doc. “I just need…a little more time!”

So the away team shoots, slashes and flame-throws its way towards The Core Drive while Dr. Mal and pals (James Cosmo, Naomi Tankel) try to fend off the “pilot sprawl” attacking them in the blasted wasteland of suburban London.

The players give it their best, as tedious exercises like this are rarely the fault of the cast. The fight choreography rises to “adequate.” The effects are OK — mostly — a planet overrun with “pilots,” another filled with semi-visible alien versions called “shadow creatures.

But there’s so much exposition, and writer-director Liam O’Donnell (“Beyond Skyline”) has little sense of how to pick up the pace and amp up the urgency aside from adding new tech, new “powers” or many, many pauses for one-liners.

The best of which has to be an ad lib, directed at “Beyond Skyline’s” one holdover character (aside from Grillo), Morgan’s Rose.

“I really like what you’ve done with your hair!”

MPA Rating: R for violence and language

Cast: Lindsey Morgan, Alexander Siddig, Rhona Mitra, Daniel Bernhardt, Cha-Lee Yoon, James Cosmo and Frank Grillo.

Credits: Scripted and directed by Liam O’Donnell, based on previous “Skyline” screenplays. A Vertical release.

Running time: 1:53

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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