Director: Simon Hung
Someone’s been watching too many sci-fi movies. Oh, and ripping them off. Battle for Skyark is a muddle of other films thrown together, cast with kids, and packaged as original material. The fact that the process is so transparent only marginally lets the filmmakers off the hook; they should still be held responsible for the theft that is this film. The literal upper class separation of Elysium, the YA survival of Maze Runner, the kooky costumed characters of Hook, the made-for-TV feel of Earth 2; there’s not a lot of new material here. And what is new isn’t very good, from the young actors to the silly monsters. No, Battle for Skyark is better watched in pieces, and by ‘pieces’ I mean ‘other movies’.
In the future, an inhospitable Earth will lead humanity to the stars, or at least to a giant space station called Skyark. There, the human race can continue, as least as long as it doesn’t destroy itself. Eventually, the rich and the poor will separate, fight, and divide, with the rich claiming the skies. The leaders of the “rebellion” are punished, along with their families, their children branded as traitors and flung back down to Earth to survive as best they can. But breeding on land are a vague & dangerous monster race, the bane of all those who are sent to Earth to die. The young & inventive children of the rebels will live as they can, in constant fear of the monsters of the Hive and the secret source of life they possess.
Among Earth’s youngsters is a legend that someday a savior will arrive. He will be the son of the leader of the rebellion and will be branded with 13 shadows, markings on his arm that will reveal his destiny. Well, a boy named Rags does arrive, he does have 13 marks, his father was a powerful man in Skyark, but he has no idea how to lead, how to survive, how to reach Skyark, how defeat the monsters, or even how to live through his first night on land. He’ll need help & trust from those around him; Rusty the eldest, Ash the warrior, Lily the dreamer, Skunk the boy on a mission, and a ragged bunch of younger kids who all need someone they can believe in to take them away from what has become a very short existence.
It was all a bit much, a bit heavy on the “borrowing” with not enough original content. The kid with the pan helmet & the epaulette armor; seen it. The sphere of civilization in the sky living above the danger; been done. The children surviving against monsters where perhaps evil adults had orchestrated the entire thing; yeah, we know. The fimmakers behind Skyark didn’t come up with much at all beside a name for there movie, even taking the moods of other films and making them their own. WALL-E beginnings, which were odd, Dreamquest cinematography, which was odd in a completely different way, and a weird mix of styles that never did come together to feel like one solid project.
And the actors didn’t help, as the entire cast of kids fell far below what we’ve come to expect from the stupid YA trilogies we can’t stop watching. At least those movies have the occasional moment of good acting, even if the plots are going in a hundred different directions and we become completely bored with the same dystopian concept. But the acting here wasn’t even that good, with a slew of amateurs in mismatched clothes attempting to look brave & frightened at the same time. The story meandered, I’m still not exactly sure what to think about the ending, and the only thing I’m certain of is that this movie doesn’t warrant a ton of second glances or second thoughts.
Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (16×9 Widescreen), the video quality of the film wasn’t nearly as good as we’ve come to expect from post-apocalyptic sci-fi presented in this format. The camera work was weird, the special effects were not good, and any action was shown in a choppy, unfocused format that eliminated all blood & realism. The picture quality was OK, the color fine, the clarity perhaps meeting the bare minimum, but definitely nothing to write home about.
Audio – The DVD was done in English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio, with subtitle choices of English or Spanish. The audio quality was forgettable, but fine, with no balance issues since nothing action-packed ever happened, and music that if it existed I immediately forgot. The sound from this film won’t be anything that impacts the movie one way or the other.
Extras – The only special features on the disc are a few trailers: Skyark, Black Box, Dragon Blade, The Four Warriors, Ender’s Game.
Rent It. I can imagine a few 10-year-olds liking this film, enjoying their first taste of sci-fi, allowing themselves to be concerned for these kids, getting excited about the idea of a hero on his way with a mystery to solve. But beyond that, I can’t think of many who will enjoy Skyark. It’s a cheap attempt to steal others’ ideas and pass them off as something new. Problem is, there’s nothing new here at all, nothing exciting, nothing original, and nothing worth an adult’s time. With bad acting & bad action, there’s nothing to hold onto and nothing to remember, beyond how it reminds you of a hundred other young adult fantasy films. The video is fairly awful, the audio forgettable, and the extras few. There have got to be quality films of this genre out there somewhere, though what we’re being fed in theatres isn’t it either, so maybe they don’t exist.
☆ ☆ – Content
☆ ☆ – Video
☆ ☆ – Audio
☆ ☆ – Extras
☆ – Replay