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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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Bad Boys: Ride Or Die Review – Smith and Lawrence Deliver Explosive Entertainment.

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Bad Boys: Ride or Die [credit: Sony Pictures Releasing]

Hollywood has been struggling as of late and a lot is riding on the success of the fourth installment of this beloved franchise. The directors Adil and Bilall have had a tough time after their last feature Batgirl was shelved, Sony is looking to move on from the Madame Web debacle and Smith is gearing up for his big comeback after the slap. Hollywood history also tells us that there aren’t a lot of franchises that are able to deliver blockbuster business in their fourth installments.

 

I went into this movie cautiously optimistic with Adil and Bilall returning to direct. They also directed the last entry, which turned out not only the highest-grossing movie in this franchise but also the highest-grossing movie of 2020, which are quite the achievements. This franchise is almost 30 years old now, but these two directors found a way to give it a modern touch while staying loyal to the legacy of these characters. In this entry, they take it up a notch and give us some of the most creative camera work and they never seem to run out of ideas throughout this movie.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die [credit: Sony Pictures Releasing]

The main attraction of these movies has always been the chemistry between Smith and Lawrence. Smith brings the style, and Lawrence brings the charm. As always, they are unreal together on screen and the movie is at its strongest when it is focusing on both of them. I was curious to see if the slap would affect Smith’s screen presence or his comic timing, but he seemed cool for the most part. Although, I did sense a hint of nervousness a couple of times. On the other hand, Martin Lawrence was having a blast.

 

Eric Dane is menacing as our main villain here, which is also thanks to the directors’ presentation of his character. Jacob Scipio is awesome in action sequences, while Alexander Ludwig and Vanessa Hudgens are great together. Rhea Seehorn and Ioan Gruffudd are our other new additions to this entry, but both of them seemed nowhere near their best. It was mostly due to the fact that they were portraying unlikeable, cliche, and predictable characters. But the real MVP here is Reggie. He gets his moment and it is awesome. There are also quite a few cameos which are all well-handled.

Bad Boys: Ride or Die [credit: Sony Pictures Releasing]

BAD BOYS: RIDE OR DIE

The story is easily the weakest part here with not a lot of character development, especially for the supporting cast. The plot is thin and doesn’t have too many layers to it and even the twists mostly fail to surprise. But that doesn’t mean that the adventure that our characters are on isn’t fun. One can clearly see that the focus in the structuring of this movie was to make it as fun as possible. There are also some questionable editing choices, but the pacing of the narrative is really good.

 

Bad Boys: Ride Or Die delivers an explosively entertaining ride in one of the franchise’s best entries. It embraces its outrageousness and gives some wild action sequences. Smith and Lawrence’s chemistry is unreal, while Adil and Bilall bring their A-game. Audiences will eat up this hilarious ride that will surely be one of the best movie-going experiences of the year. A treat for fans of the franchise. Hopefully, we get more of these.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRFY_Fesa9Q&pp=ygUSYmFkIGJveXMgNCB0cmFpbGVy

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Bad Boys: Ride or Die | Official Trailer – Sony Pictures Entertainment

Miami’s finest end up on the run.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Comedy

Release Date:

2024

Director:

Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah

Cast:

Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Vanessa Hudgens

Plot Summary:

Miami’s finest end up on the run

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Kung Fu Panda 4 Review: Po and Co are Back to Pack Hilarious Punches.

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I’ve seen too many great animation franchises deliver diminishing returns with more and more sequels. To name some recent examples one could include How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me, Cars, etc. Kung Fu Panda is another franchise that unfortunately falls in this category. The threequel that released in 2016, was most people’s choice for the weakest entry in the beloved franchise. So that made me pretty skeptical whether the world was ready for this franchise to return and gave us good cause not to have expectations set too high, especially given the weak marketing campaign and smaller production budget. To make things worse, it was being reported that the furious five would not be a part of the story.

So I went in with my expectations in check but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s been 8 years since the last Kung Fu Panda movie, but the characters are somehow still fresh and fun. One of the best things that the makers are able to do is remind the viewers what makes Po such a darling and why we love him so much. Jack Black is such a natural fit for his voice and makes this character special with his wit and wisdom in this latest entry. 

This entry is notably structured in a very different way from the other 3 entries. This one focuses on Po’s search for a successor and his ascension to the Master of Peace. The main characters are split up pretty early in the movie and are sent on separate adventures in a sort of buddy-cop-style scenario. On one side we have Po and Awkwafina’s Zhen, and on the other, we have Bryan Cranston and James Hong as Po’s dads. These two duos are a lot of fun in their own ways.

(from left) Po (Jack Black) and Zhen (Awkwafina) in Kung Fu Panda 4 directed by Mike Mitchell.

Po and Xen have more of a good boy-bad boy dynamic, while the dads have more of a light-hearted brotherhood between them. Both pairs of misfits deliver a string of humorously entertaining sequences that will have you laughing your heart out. The humor here works for most parts apart from one or two instances and the dialogue in particular is very smartly written. The story, on the other hand, is where the movie is at its weakest.

The structuring is pretty generic with a very cliche twist at the beginning of the second half and the script mostly fails to provide significantly fresh plot points. But credit to it for executing the successor plotline better than a lot of movies that have tried it, especially Cars 3. The writers make sure to put their entire focus on humor and entertainment value, but they do come up with a couple of charming moments and some subplots that come full circle.

The animation here is surprisingly really good, especially given the significantly lower budget. The trailers didn’t get too many people encouraged about the quality of animation, but I can tell you that even though it’s not DreamWorks’ best, it’s still really well done. The background score also hits the right spot where it’s able to compliment the scene and lift it at the same time. The voice work here is also pretty solid. Jack Black is amazing as always and Awkwafina Ke Huy Quan are welcome additions.

(Center) Chameleon (Viola Davis) in Kung Fu Panda 4 directed by Mike Mitchell.

Apart from Po, the best part of the movie is Li and Ping. They are the heart of this movie. The two of them have incredible chemistry and Mike Mitchell finds a way to bring out the best from the both of them. They play off of each other in the most silly, but whimsical manner which is just a joy to watch. We could do with a spin-off of them. Ian McShane’s return as Tai Lung is another highlight here. He is nicely integrated and fits well into the story being told. On the other hand, Viola Davis’ Chameleon is somewhat of a disappointment. For a villain that has the powers of all the previous villains, she was a rather tame antagonist.

Overall, Kung Fu Panda 4 is a return to form for the beloved franchise. It has a lot of elements that made the franchise successful and is a much-needed reminder of how much we love these characters and in particular, Po. Jack Black knocks it out of the park with Bryan Cranston and James Hong emerging as surprise standouts. It lacks the emotional depth of the first two entries and has a disappointingly tame villain. But it is a major improvement from the last entry and unsurprisingly very very entertaining.

Kung Fu Panda 4 releases in cinemas on March 8.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_inKs4eeHiI&pp=ygUXa3VuZyBmdSBwYW5kYSA0IHRyYWlsZXI%3D

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