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‘Skyscraper’ Review

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Genre : Action
Rating : PG-13
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Cast:
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Neve Campbell
Ng Chin Han

 

At the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon, movies just aren’t the same anymore. As franchises and cinematic universes became the norm we have seen far less star-driven movies. Instead of heading to the theaters to see the latest Stallone movie or who Jason Statham will beat up this time it’s more about the latest chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or how a YA book series is going to be the start of a new franchise. One of the few names to buck this trend has been Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The former wrestling world champion has become one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. And while he’s better knowing for rebooting franchises like GI Joe or The Fast & The Furious he is also the center of a very specific genre, ‘Rock Movies.’

For example, San Andreas can basically be described as The Rock does a disaster movie. Or how Rampage can be described as The Rock fights kaiju. Thanks to his range as an actor and charm Johnson is able to be put into all of these genres while playing a similar character each time. The latest movie to star the former WWE champion is Skyscraper.

 

 

Johnson stars as Will Sawyer, a former FBI hostage negotiator turned security expert. Thanks to a friend he gets a job as a security consultant for The Pearl, an architectural marvel in Hong Kong. Suddenly The Pearl goes up in flames with the blame falling on an innocent Will. Wanted by the police it’s up to Will to clear his name, find the criminals responsible and save his family before The Pearl is engulfed with flame. Or, in ‘Rock Movies’ parlance, The Rock does a Die Hard.

While the script doesn’t call for Johnson to drop as many one-liners as John McClane he remains just as charming. As in  his other action movies, he does a great job selling the intensity of the situation. No matter what preposterous thing is coming after him, Johnson makes it believable. His captivating personality translates just as well in the quieter moments. When on screen with children Georgia and Henry (child actors McKenna Roberts and Noah Cottrell, respectively) all of that intensity goes away. What we get instead is the happy, smiling Rock that we’ve all come to know and love.

Joining Johnson for the second time is writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber. First working with together on 2016’s Central Intelligence. More known for comedies such as We’re The Millers and Dodgeball this is actually his first full blown action movie. All things considered he acclimates himself to the genre pretty well. Coming in at a reasonable 102 minutes Skyscraper is quite the well-paced movie. As silly as a scene might get I never felt like the movie was spinning its wheels. In fact, it runs head first into the ridiculousness.

 

 

The Rock doesn’t just run to save his daughter. He does it in a burning park. He doesn’t just have to shut off a server. He has to do it while scaling the outside of a burning building. It’s the kind of explosive, over-the-top mayhem summer blockbusters were made for and Rawson Marshall Thurber captures every heart pounding second of it. Just as impressive is the originality for these set pieces. The finale in particular is a fun twist on the old house of mirrors setting. The only real stumble comes from hand-to-hand combat. Like a lot of directors Thurber utilizes a lot of shaky cam making some scenes hard to follow. Thankfully Skyscraper is more about big stunts than straight up fights.

As fun as Rock Movies can be they aren’t perfect and the same can be said of Skyscraper. Like a lot of his movies Dwayne Johnson is the focus the supporting cast suffer. More a collection of character traits and clichés they are basically there to support Johnson. This is particularly noticeable with Neve Campbell. It isn’t necessarily her performance either. She’s perfectly fine as Rock’s wife. The problem is how little she is given to do. More often than not she is either playing the doting wife or caring mother. It really feels like a waste.

The special effects can also be shoddy at times. Considering how VFX-heavy the action scenes can be this quickly becomes a distraction. Things like fire and the building can look quite fake. Things like green screen can become obvious if that is the kind of thing you notice. And as creative as the finale can be the effects aren’t quite as ambitious. This could be excusable for a smaller film but for a movie with a $125 million budget it shouldn’t look as bad as it is.

 

 

At the end of his 2000 book The Rock Says… the former pro wrestler tries to predict his future. With the main goal being Hollywood and becoming the next Arnold Schwarzenegger. As fictitious as the book can get this was clearly something he planned to do. In the 18 years since the book was released Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has become a larger than life figure and Skyscraper is a perfect example why. Because despite its flaws, and there are many, it’s still a fun watch. Whether it’s The Rock jumping into a flaming building or hiding in a maze of mirrors he remains one of the most magnetic men on the big screen. With the audience in the palm of his hands, Skyscraper is the kind of summer movie Rampage wanted to be.

 

Rating 7/10
Links : IMDB

Skyscraper is now in theaters now

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Infinite | A Michael Bay Imitation Film

Infinite Desperately Wants to Impress With its Style, But Has No Substance.

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Paramount wanted to get ahead in the streaming game with Paramount+ but made the novice mistake of selling most of their titles, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to other streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video and Netflix instead of…I don’t know…growing their own. With barely any content left and keeping their big tentpole releases such as A Quiet Place: Part II and Top Gun: Maverick in cinemas, Paramount is finally saying “Ahhhhhh! I get it!” after every other major streaming service, especially Disney+ and HBO Max, used the pandemic as a pretext to grow their subscriber base. However, having sold most of its upcoming films to other streaming services, the studio only seems to have duds in the hopes of growing its subscriber base. Enter Antoine Fuqua’s latest film, Infinite, which strangely never feels like something the director of such visceral action pictures like Training Day, Bait, Tears of the Sun, Shooter, Brooklyn’s Finest, and The Equalizer, but Fuqua desperately wanting to emulate Michael Bay’s signature style.

There’s only one problem, however: even if you want to do Bayhem, and you intend to replicate it as accurately as you can, there’s a sole filmmaker that can do it right—and that’s Bay himself. But it doesn’t matter for Fuqua; he starts his overtly aestheticized action amazingly quickly, with an upbeat car chase staged to the rhythms of Campfire’s Legends Never Die, with Heinrich Treadway (Dylan O’Brien) being pursued by Bathurst (Rupert Friend), who looks for a thingamajig aptly named “The Egg” (because it’s shaped like an egg, of course!), which has the power of destroying…the entire world (how original!). Treadway dies without giving away The Egg’s location. Suddenly, a man named Evan McCauley (Mark Wahlberg) wakes up from his Treadway nightmare. We progressively learn that McCauley has schizophrenia who constantly remembers things from past lives he seemed to have never experienced before. He is what the “Believers” call “Infinites,” whose souls constantly get reincarnated inside a different body. He is quickly apprehended by Bathurst (now played by Chiwetel Ejiofor) after using a hand-crafted sword in a drug deal gone bad. His “life” changes drastically once Evan learns that he possesses Treadway’s soul and must reawaken his memory to quickly find The Egg before Bathurst does and destroys the entire world.

Infinite,' starring Mark Wahlberg & Chiwetel Ejiofor, debuts on Paramount+

Let’s be honest: movies that center on thingamajigs (or MacGuffins as academics would call them) are amazingly tiresome and can only go so far before it veers off in predictable territory. Thankfully, Fuqua’s emulation of Bayhem makes many of its central action setpieces move at a somewhat entertaining pace. The car chase at the beginning involving Dylan O’Brien’s Treadway is filled with Bay’s rapid editing and an over-reliance on a moving camera that always, and I mean, always acts like a paintbrush to produce a copious, almost gratuitous amount of flashy style. And by flashy style, I mean excessive use of slow-motion, flares, and explosions or low-angles during 1-on-1 fight sequences. The explosions in this film are particularly reminiscent of Bay’s pictures, though not as big in scale, but produce the same cathartic effect. One scene in which Evan and Nora (Sophie Cookson) try to run away from Bathurst’s robotic henchmen inside a buggy has a precise explosion that, in its staging of using slow-motion at a pinpoint moment, feels as if it’s been directed by Bay. I mean, heck, if the end credits said “Directed by Michael Bay” instead of Antoine Fuqua, I’d believe it.

INFINITE (2021) Movie Trailer: Mark Wahlberg's Past Lives are Unlocked by a  Secret Society in Antoine Fuqua's Scifi Film | FilmBook

By doing this, Fuqua prevents the film from being a total dud than it is, since the script is filled with so many ineptitudes on:

  1. The world of the Infinites. The difference between the “believers” and “nihilists” is barely explained in two throwaway lines that almost feel unimportant. I can only explain the nihilists, who want all life to cease existing so they can stop reincarnating themselves, which adds a weird ineptitude on:
  2. Bathurst’s motivations. He wants to stop reincarnating himself and has developed a bullet that prevents believers from doing so. Ok, so if you’ve developed a bullet that grants your sole motivation…why not shoot yourself with it instead of bringing the entire world down with you? I’m sorry, but we never know the why behind Bathurst’s plan to destroy the world, aside from the overly used “humans are stupid, so I guess I need to bring them down with me” line, after torturing Toby Jones’ character by shoving…*checks notes*…honey down his mouth…interesting.

These two main problems falter its extremely stylized action for a sci-fi picture that’s as smart as Mark Wahlberg’s previous tenure in that genre…with Michael Bay in Transformers: Age of Extinction and The Last Knight. Hell, here’s another thing: if you would’ve told me that this is set in the world of Transformers that Wahlberg reprised his role as Cade Yeager through a new alter-ego, who now has the memories of somebody else (through unbeknownst reasons), then guess what? I would’ve believed it too. Wahlberg’s performance is no different than his exploration of the Transformers universe: half-charm, half-cluelessness, which equates to accepting every preposterous explanation on “Infinites” as “fact” and tagging along with people he’s never seen before and pretend everything’ll be fine, even if he is now tasked to save the entire world, in the same sense he had to do it (twice!) with the Autobots.

Infinite review: Mark Wahlberg relives past action movies in this soulless  flick - CNET

His character progression starts by being the only character that asks questions to the Infinites, who will then explain the film’s facile and underdeveloped plot in hackneyed detail, until he becomes the hero we deserve, but didn’t know we needed, as he uses a sword à la Morpheus from The Matrix Reloaded to bring down an entire plane and fight with Bathurst in the air, without any parachute, in the craziest, most bewildering action scene I’ve seen that defies all sense of logic and paints their characters as God-like mythic figures since The Fast and the Furious franchise said “no more logic” when Dom Toretto destroyed a parking lot with his feet.

Speaking of Bathurst, Chiwetel Ejiofor, a usual powerhouse, is completely miscast here and delivers his worst performance to date with an indescribable accent that makes everything about his antagonistic presence feel terribly cartoonish and over-the-top. He’ll refine his antagonist chops, most likely in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. I truly hope he’ll return to a more natural state of acting as he did as Mordo in Scott Derrickson’s 2016 film (or even when he compellingly portrayed Scar in the 2019 remake of The Lion King), instead of doing whatever the hell he’s doing here. I can barely explain, or comprehend, if you will, what Ejiofor even attempted to do in Infinite to render his antagonist menacing…but it clearly didn’t work and made every scene he’s in feel unintentionally hilarious. Look at the scene in which he tortures Toby Jones with honey and how he tries to make his awfully written lines serious and menacing and yet does the exact opposite. It’s quite a feat to see, but it needs to be forgotten sooner rather than later.

Infinite (2021) - IMDb

This is probably why Paramount dropped Infinite on a streaming service no one is subscribed to, so it can be easily forgotten and buried inside an ever-growing algorithm that “curates” films on content rather than quality. While Infinite contains a hefty number of fun action sequences that imitate Michael Bay’s unmatched style, it, unfortunately, does not overshadow its terribly facile and underdeveloped plot and caricatural lead performances from Mark Wahlberg and Chiwetel Ejiofor. If you’re a fan of Antoine Fuqua, you won’t watch this and go through his previous films instead, which would be for the better. Let’s hope his remake of The Guilty, set to release later this year on Netflix, will be better than Infinite (spoiler: it likely will).

Infinite is now available to stream on Paramount+.

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Netflix | Masters of the Universe: Revelation – Official Trailer

Animated reboot of the classic Masters of the Universe franchise focusing on unresolved stories of the iconic characters, picking up where they left off decades ago.

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Genre:

Animation, Action, Adventure

Director:

Kevin Smith

Release Date:

2021 (Netflix)

Cast:

Mark Hamill, Chris Wood, Diedrich Bader, Kevin Conroy, Liam Cunningham, Susan Eisenberg, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Lena Headey, Griffin Newman, Kevin Michael Richardson, Alicia Silverstone, Harley Quinn Smith

Plot Summary:

Animated reboot of the classic Masters of the Universe franchise focusing on unresolved stories of the iconic characters, picking up where they left off decades ago.

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New Trailer For ‘Free Guy’ Starring Ryan Reynolds Arrives

A bank teller called Guy realizes he is a background character in an open world video game called Free City that will soon go offline.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Comedy

Release Date:

May 21, 2021

Director:

Shawn Levy

Cast:

Ryan Reynolds, Joe Keery, Jodie Comer, Taika Waititi, Channing Tatum, Lil Rel Howery

Plot Summary:

Free Guy is an action-comedy about a bank teller who discovers he is a background character in an open world video game called Free City that will soon go offline.

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