Skyscraper 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 233, November 2018

WSR Score3.5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
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Sequences of gun violence and action, and brief strong language
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-66)
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Rawson Marshall Thurber
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Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1
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On a mission to clear his name and find those responsible, Will Sawyer (Johnson) must rescue his family from a newly built skyscraper after it is taken over by criminals and set on fire. (Tricia Spears)

Special features include commentary with Director Rawson Marshall Thurber; deleted scenes and extended scenes with optional commentary by Director Thurber (HD ); six featurettes “Dwayne Johnson: Embodying A Hero” (HD ), “Inspiration,” (HD ), “Opposing Forces,” (HD ), “Friends No More,” (HD ), “Kids In Action,” (HD ) and “Pineapple Pitch,” (HD ); and a Movies Anywhere digital copy code.

The 2.40:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10/Dolby Vision picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed digitally in Panavision® using the Arri Alexa 65, Arri Alexa Mini, Arri Alexa XT Plus camera systems and sourced from a 2K (not 4K) master Digital Intermediate format. As the 2K Digital Intermediate has been upconverted to 2160p, there is no real gain in native resolution. A 3D Blu-ray release was issued by Universal but not for review. As with its overwhelmingly dark theatrical release, the darkness is exhibited in many of its scenes and through much of its run time on this 4K Ultra HD release. The application of HDR contrast enhancement does reveal nicely the detail and light shadings in the movie's darkest, shadowy segments, lit with dim light sources. Still, when adequately lit, color fidelity is effectively realistically saturated, including reds, fiery oranges and yellows during the intense burning of the building as the Sawyer family battles the flames. The segment with Sawyer's attempts to maneuver from one location to another across the building's exterior, shows his dirty and bloodied face and clothing contrasted with an unblemished white rope wrapped around him. Thanks to the wider color gamut and HDR contrast, the white rope exhibits a vision of intensity contrasted with Sawyer's battered and bruised appearance. Resolution is good, and at times even in the darker scenes where textural fine detail is identifiable. But often, the imagery appears a bit soft. But close-ups of Sawyer's facial features, skin pores, facial hairs, sweat, grime and bloodied appearance reveal incredible detail throughout the hellacious fire scenes as he jumps through spinning turbines while all the while battling villains. The movie's various locales, from bustling Hong Kong streets to revealing interiors inside the Pearl skyscraper are nicely resolved with good detail levels. WOW! segments include from 14:39 to 16:09, 01:07:00 to 01:08:39, and 01:27:32 to 01:28:35. For all the difficult set designs, which tend to be dark, this is a really engaging visual experience. (Gary Reber)

The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack is dynamic sounding, enhanced with jittering and powerful sound effects. The opening scene of Sawyer and his team attempting to rescue a mother and children from a deranged father sets the sonic tone of the soundtrack that follows, including the use of sub-25 Hz .1 LFE bass extension that enhances the force of energy during a raid on a house and the burning building. Discrete directionality and panning of sound effects are heard aggressively in the surrounds, such as in the opening scene of the raid on a house, a knock down, drag out fight, and the smashing of various items in an apartment and, later, with helicopters outside the Pearl (and in one case, inside). At times directionalized voices are heard in the surrounds. All through, ambience is soundfield enveloping. The orchestral and electronic score is nicely recorded with a wide and deep soundstage that aggressively extends to the surrounds and enhances the sense of holosonic® envelopment. Dialogue is intelligible, though, often ADR-rendered and wanting in spatial integration. Fidelity throughout is terrific as is the presentation of dynamic sonics.

The Immersive Sound element is comprised of sound effect objects in support of Sawyer maneuvering off the side of the building where whistling winds engulf the spherical soundfield. Other brief moments are ferry announcement voices, the Pearl security system voice, the fire sprinkler system, explosions, a helicopter pan, winds, crash and explosions, an electrical hum, a turning turbine blade, Sawyer's daughter's yell for her "daddy," a boiler room sound, Sawyer coughing, and other brief, accentuated sound effects. Even though there is lots of gunfire on the soundtrack, none of it resonates in the height layer except for a segment in the room of mirrors. The orchestral and electronic score extends to the height layer, primarily in the frontal height stage. While there is the music and periodic sound effects, the sound designers missed quite a lot of opportunities to create a much more immersive spherical effect.

At ear-level the soundtrack is full-on dynamic and spatially dimensional, with effective support within the height layer, to create a terrific sonic experience. (Gary Reber)