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Skyscraper (2018)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
4K UHD Released: 10/9/2018

All Ratings out of
Movie: Ĺ
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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/4/2018

Do you remember the 80s? (You don't? Feeling old here...) That era was a highpoint for action movies. Films like Die Hard, RoboCop, Predator, and let's mention Die Hard one more time, set the standard for high-octane, edge-of-your-seat action thrillers. Since that time, there have been some good action films (like Taken and The Bourne Identity), but nothing which comes close to that 80s high-point. (Today, most action movies are comic-book related. To be fair, Captain America: Civil War had an 80s action-movie vibe.) Still, every once in a while, we get a movie which attempts to re-create that Die Hard vibe, and these films have the advantage of modern technology. Can Skyscraper fill that throw-back void?

Billionaire industrialist Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han) has built the tallest building in the world, called "The Pearl", in Hong Kong. His associate, Ben (Pablo Schreiber), has invited his old friend from the FBI, Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson), to analyze the "The Pearl"'s security. Will has brought his wife, Sarah (Neve Campbell), and his kids, Georgia (McKenna Roberts) and Henry (Noah Cottrell), along with him, and they are staying in an apartment in the building. While Ben and Will go tour an off-site part of the security system, a group of intruders, lead by Kores Botha (Roland Moller), invade the building and set it on fire. While Botha makes his way to Zhao to carry out his plan, Will must find a way into the burning monolith and save his family.

Unless you weren't aware, Hollywood aims for certain demographics with their movies. And one of the prized groups is teens. Therefore, I can see the creators of Skyscraper saying, "Hey! Have today's teens seen Die Hard and The Towering Inferno?" Apparently, the answer was no, as Skyscraper is a almost pathological combination of the two films. We have a new skyscraper which has garnered a lot of attention which is engulfed in flames (The Towering Inferno) while it is bombarded by heavily armed terrorists (Die Hard) and it's up to an out-of-place lawman to save the day (Die Hard). The one thing which Skyscraper does to try and shake up this formula is that Will lost the lower part of his left leg in an FBI raid (which is seen in the film's opening scene) and his now uses a prosthetic. And the movie never lets you forget about this. A new demographic which Hollywood is chasing is the Chinese market. And while Skyscraper could have been set in any city in the world, it feels like the Hong Kong angle is shoved in our faces. (I remember seeing promotional interviews when the was released and most of them had Johnson in Hong Kong.)

What is the result of all of this? A movie which is decidedly mediocre. Skyscraper was written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, who made Dodgeball, We're the Millers, and Central Intelligence, all of which would be considered comedies, although they contain some action elements. Skyscraper is Thurberís first attempt at all-out action and itís not surprising that heís looked to the past for inspiration. However, the whole affair feels oddly uninspired. The basic premise is pedestrian, Bothaís reason for breaking in is dull, and the action is fairly rote. (However, for a PG-13 movie, a lot of people die here.) A running-time of 102-minutes is actually a little below average for a movie like this, but we still get scenes here that feel like filler. Thereís a whole subplot with a group of bad guys which are outside of the building which completely pulls focus from the main story and adds nothing to the film.

Last year's Jumanji, which featured Johnson, was a huge hit, but surrounding that, we got Baywatch and Rampage, both of which Johnson starred in, both of which failed to make their budget back at the U.S. box office, and neither of which was very good. Skyscraper isn't the trainwreck that those movies were, but it also underperformed at American theaters. So, the question must be asked, what's up with Dwayne Johnson? Has he suddenly gone cold on choosing scripts? Have audiences grown tired of how he's in multiple movies every year? No matter what, something is going on. With Skyscraper, he does try to stretch his acting chops, and actually does pretty well, but it's all in the middle of a movie which, minus the presence of an international movie star, could have easily been a direct-to-video project. Skyscraper reaches for new heights, but ultimately falls flat.

Skyscraper never sold me on the mirror maze on 4K UHD courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an HEVC 2160p transfer which runs at an average of 70 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, most notably the greens, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail here is very impressive, as we can make out textures on objects, and the depth is excellent, giving this 2D version a quasi-3D look. The Disc carries a Dolby Atmos audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Once the action kicks in, we are surrounded by the sounds of the fire and the gunfights. The detailed effects coming from the front and rear channels place us in the middle of this, and these effects move from front-to-back and side-to-side with grace. The constant explosions give the subwoofer a wall-shaking workout.

The Skyscraper 4K UHD contains several extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Writer/Director Rawson Marshall Thurber. The Disc contains five DELETED SCENES which run about 12 minutes. These can be viewed with optional commentary from Thurber. There are no new characters or subplots in these scenes. We also get five EXTENDED SCENES which run about 10 minutes and also have commentary from Thurber. "Dwayne Johnson: Embodying a Hero" (4 minutes) has Thurber and Johnson describing the character, with the actor explaining how this character is different from his previous ones and how he approached it. "Inspiration" (4 minutes) focuses on how Will is an amputee and how this is handled. We also get to meet Jeff Glasbrenner, a Veteran who is an amputee, who helped inspire Johnson. Neve Campbell's character, as well as Hannan Quinlivan's, are profiled in "Opposing Forces" (3 minutes). "Friends No More" (3 minutes) looks at the fight scene with Johnson and Pablo Schreiber. "Kids In Action" (3 minutes) profiles the child actors and show's their casting. "Pineapple Pitch" (2 minutes) has Johnson and Thurber telling the story of how the project started.

Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long