Skyscraper (2018)

Released: July 13, 2018. Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber. Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Neve Campbell, Chin Han. Runtime: 1h 42 min.

Comedy director Rawson Marshall Thurber teams up for a second time with Dwayne Johnson after 2016’s “Central Intelligence. This time, it’s for his first action film “Skyscraper.”

Will Sawyer (Johnson) is now a security expert on assignment in Hong Kong assessing the safety of the world’s tallest building, the Pearl, at 225 stories tall, built by ambitious architect Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han). Sawyer’s brought in to make sure that the residential floors are as safe as can be.

He’s given a tablet that can control the building remotely, and when the building is set ablaze by a gang of mercenaries (led by Roland Møller), Will’s framed for it. He wants to clear his name – but first needs to get into the building because his wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) and children Georgia (McKenna Roberts) and Henry (Noah Cottrell) are still in the building right near the fire.

Dwayne Johnson plays Will Sawyer well. He’s a strong family man and Johnson brings his usual charisma. The film opens with his character as an FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader on his last mission as an explosion leads him to losing his leg. This is about 10 years before Hong Kong and he sports a prosthetic leg for the rest of the film.

He discusses it with one of his old FBI buddies, Ben (Pablo Schreiber), in the film, but talks about the mistake of not knowing the man had a bomb, but the bad luck led him to meeting his wife. Neve Campbell plays the wife well, but their chemistry’s nothing special. Will’s family is his drive.

Skyscraper revieww

Neve Campbell and Dwayne Johnson in “Skyscraper.” (IMDb)

All that aside, a main criticism for the film is that it’s a lot like Die Hard.” It’s fair and inevitable, especially because of the villains and general concept, but I saw more similarities to “The Towering Inferno.” It has similar scenes where characters must get across things to escape the blaze, and it’s like an extreme version of that film for modern audiences. I won’t spoil anything about the villains, but I’ve really liked Roland Møller in everything I’ve seen him in.

The film’s predictable but I liked the ride. I also liked the setting of the film, The Pearl, which makes Nakatomi Plaza look like a normal house in comparison. Attractions like a three-story rainforest and spinning turbine things on the outside of the building are featured on the Pearl. The wonder of the turbine attraction made me think of “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” The Pearl’s architect Long Ji is Wonka and his skyscraper is his chocolate factory.

There’s a pearl on top of the skyscraper that looks down on Hong Kong like you’re just in the sky, or like you’re looking down from Heaven, as Long Ji puts it. Most of the Pearl’s unique attractions feature into the film’s biggest set pieces. A few of these made my palms sweat which I thought made the “Skyscraper” have enough edge-of-your-seat thrills for one watch, despite it being predictable.

Score: 63/100

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Scream (1996)

Release Date: December 20, 1996. Director: Wes Craven. Stars: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette. Runtime: 1hr, 51 min. Tagline: Someone’s Taken Their Love Of Scary Movies One Step Too Far!

Did you knowOriginally titled “Scary Movie” which was later used for a parody of the Scream and other pop culture horror films like it: Scary Movie (According to IMDb). [No wonder those two titles are sometimes confused by people!]

Scream is a fresh spin on the horror genre, and it oozes with sheer brilliance. It follows Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), an average teen whose mother was killed last year, living in the town of Woodsboro. To add stress to the dreadful upcoming anniversary, a killer called Ghostface surfaces and begins to kill local teens one by one. As the body count begins to rise, Sidney and her friends find themselves contemplating the “Rules” of horror films as they find themselves living in a real-life one.

That premise is really one of the most original and best to ever hit the horror genre. The real treat about Scream is that it’s both a great satire and a great horror movie. It embraces the horror genre while simultaneously mocking it, in such a refreshing way. It also turns psychotic killings into something hilarious, and satirical  Assuming one can find the humour in stabbings, and it is satirical because it’s all really ironic, such as the time where Tatum says “You’re starting to sound like a Wes Carpenter flick or something,” or when Jamie Kennedy is watching Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween, shouting “Come on, Jamie… Behind you!” at a time where he should look behind him. In this way, it feels like a self-aware film, even when the characters themselves are not aware they are in a movie. The characters discuss the “Rules” of horror films, while they themselves are trying to survive what is actually a horror movie.

The movie warns that, in most cases, if you have sex, drink or do drugs, among other things, you’re pretty much screwed. The movie dissects the genre and gets silly, scary and all-around intense. The concept is incredibly scary, because if one gets a prank call and the prank caller becomes increasingly violent, and the victim doesn’t have a good knowledge of horror movies, they’re basically screwed. Even when the scenes are incredibly long (the 42-minute party scene near the end, the crew made t-shirts that read “I SURVIVED SCENE 118”, and the Drew Barrymore scene at the very beginning lasts 12 minutes), it’s never boring. There are so many aspects of this film that could make this one of someone’s favourite horror flicks.

The primary characters are easy to care about (but when most are killed off, it really isn’t the end of the world) and it’s always suspenseful because the killer could be literally anyone. It could be you, the one reading this right now. Probably not. Ghostface is also hilarious because he’s so clever and witty and just downright psychopathic. He’s having so much fun, that, it’s really hard not to laugh along with this film.

Everyone is also incredibly well typecast and embrace their stereotypes. Sidney’s the virgin, Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) is the number one suspect in the film, Tatum (Rose McGowan) is really just the slut, Stu (Matthew Lillard) is Tatum’s boyfriend, and Randy Meeks (Jamie Kennedy) is the horror movie (and general movie) buff, who’s kinda secretly head-over-heels for Sidney. And what cinephile cannot love a movie with a funny movie buff in it? We can’t forget Dewey (David Arquette), the Deputy of the town, and Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox), the selfish news reporter trying to keep the apparently innocent man, Cotton Weary, who was incarcerated for the murder of Sidney’s mother, off death row. We also grow to love her for her backbone and fine badassery. Is that a word?

This movie is practically just the perfect treat to watch on a Friday night with a few friends and a bucket of poppin’ corn. It’s hilarious, edgy, intense, mysterious, scary, it always keeps its viewer guessing, and it’s overall brilliant. It also has an amazing premise that it executes extremely well, and that’s easy to admire. Scream is one of those movies that one can watch over and over because of its iconic characters, its pure entertainment value, and its tremendous amount of originality. And there’s lots of blood and horror references. It also always should inspire a Scream-athon (I think I’ll watch them all in the summer, when I have them all on Blu-Ray) because the sequels are fairly entertaining. This is truly a bit of a wet dream for horror fans. Only one thing is left to be said: What’s your favourite scary movie?

100/100