MOVIE BUFF-ET: ‘Skyscraper’ delivers predictable fun; Bland ‘Hotel Transylvania 3’ puts a stake in franchise

Legendary Pictures Productions

Take the plots of “The Towering Inferno” and “Die Hard,” and stir the cautionary tale of the Tower of Babel from the Bible, and you have the high concept for the latest Dwayne Johnson action picture “Skyscraper.”

Written and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (“Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” “We’re the Millers,” and “Central Intelligence”), the film is the director’s first step away from comedy, and he delivers a fairly solid action movie that while familiar, still delivers enough thrills to make me root for The Rock.

New In Local Theaters

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    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle Hills)
    » Watch trailer
  • Skyscraper (PG-13) 1 hr. 42. min.
    (AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne, Malco Springdale, Malco Pinnacle Hills, Bentonville Skylight)
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Some of those scenes stretch the bounds of reality to the extreme, but if you’re going to pick an actor to pull off Batman-level stunts to save his family from being trapped on the 96th floor of 212-story burning tower, then The Rock is the man to call.

And, yes, Johnson can still convincingly kick butt with a missing limb.

Playing an ex-military, ex-FBI agent who lost his lower left leg when a hostage situation went awry, Johnson’s Will Sawyer is lower key than most of his roles. Sawyer, with a grey beard, is struggling to get his security assessment business off the ground when he is offered to give his opinion on the safety of the world’s tallest and most advanced skyscraper in Hong Kong.

Sawyer gives the building a passing grade; however, the tower catches fire, trapping Sawyer’s wife Sarah (Neve Campbell) and his two children in the building that is now locked down. Sawyer must go to extraordinary lengths to break back in the tower to save his family.

If the film’s plot isn’t silly enough then its action takes it over the top, but I have to admit it was fun watching Johnson do the incredible time and again.

Perhaps the best performance, though, is by Campbell, whose character is believable not only as a mom and a surgeon, but also as a capable former military officer. Campbell’s Sarah is no damsel in distress. She’s her husband’s partner in life and partner in saving their kids.

Cambell’s so likable and compelling in the role that I’m guessing this part will give her career a shot in the arm.

Roland Moller chews a lot of scenery as the muscled-up lead baddie Kores Botha, but he hits all the right despicable notes as a foil for Johnson’s heroic Sawyer.

“Skyscraper” is as predictable as it can be. It’ll never make any critic’s classic list, but it’s a fun time at the movie if you like action flicks or are a fan of the The Rock.

(PG-13) 1 hr. 42. min.
Grade: C

Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation

Sony Pictures

For a fan of animation and Universal horror movies, one would think a feature like “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” would be right up my alley.

I thought so, too, but the third film in the franchise that features Adam Sandler as the voice of Dracula and Selena Gomez as the voice of his daughter Mavis is as bland as a $1 microwave burrito and just as tough to stomach.

The plot, which features Dracula, his family, and his ghoulish friends taking a cruise on a ship captained by Ericka Van Helsing (voiced by Kathryn Hahn), the great granddaughter of Dracula’s arch-nemesis Abraham Van Helsing (voiced by Jim Gaffigan), is a trip to nowhere, and the gags that hit in the first two movies just seem as old and tired as the speedo worn by Dracula’s ancient father Vlad (voiced by Mel Brooks).

It was strikingly sad how little laughter there was in the screening I attended.

That said, the animation looks great with the same wonderful design sense by director/co-writer Genndy Tartakovsky, who also guided the previous two films.

“Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” isn’t the worst movie I’ve seen this year, but I think it is the most disappointing.

Seriously, the kids would enjoy a second viewing of “Incredibles 2,” more than this, and you would, too.

(PG) 1 hr. 37 min.
Grade: D+

The Classic Corner


The idea behind the 1988 classic “Big” is that it services one of the greatest fantasies of children and adults.

Most every kid has wanted the advantages that come with being older, and at some point most every adult has longed for the carefree times of their youth.

Twentieth Century Fox

The film, directed by Penny Marshall from a script by Gary Ross and Anne Spielberg, fulfills both wishes in a heartfelt yet exuberantly fun film that also made an A-list star out of Tom Hanks, who plays the adult version of 12-year-old Josh Baskin.

After being denied passage onto a carnival ride for being too short, Josh (David Moscow) makes a wish to be big at a fortune teller machine, and the next morning he wakes up as a fully grown Tom Hanks.

When he tries to explain to his mother, she chases him out of the house believing he is a kidnapper. Josh goes to his best friend Billy (Jared Rushton) and convinces him that he is Josh, all grown up.

From there, Josh finds a job, gets promoted, begins dating a female executive Susan (Elizabeth Perkins). Living in an adult world, Josh begins to become frustrated with adult problems and begins to want return to his old life. The question is can he do it?

Hanks is simply wonderful in the film, and the success of the movie rests on his shoulders. It’s hard to imagine any other actor bringing as much joy and pathos to the role.

The Malco Razorback Theater hosts two showings of the film at 2 p.m. Sunday and at 7 p.m. Wednesday if you’d like to revisit “Big” on the big screen for the film’s 30th anniversary.