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Skyscraper (1996)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: Anna Nicole Smith, Richard Steinmetz, Charles M. Huber, Lee DeBroux, Calvin Levels

Written By: William Applegate, Jr., Jospeh John Barmettler Directed By: Raymond Martino

The Short Version

Skyscraper is one of the most awful direct-to-video action rip-offs ever.

Acting?  What’s that?

Directing?  What’s that?

One might as well give Anna Nicole Smith’s boobs their own billing; no one’s watching for anything else.

Skyscraper is where brain cells go to die horrible, agonizing deaths.

The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


Processed stuff full of holes.  Now cut the ball in half and set the halves next to each other, flat side down.  That image pretty well sums up the point of this movie.

Pairs Well With...


Movie that pretends to be Die Hard and fails miserably at it, meet water that pretends to be beer and fails miserably at it.

“Well excuse me for still believin’ in Sunday walks in the park and little babies!”

Try to imagine one of the dumbest pitch meetings in the history of direct-to-video moviemaking.

“Hey, boss!  I’ve got an awesome idea!”

“This isn’t like when you suggested that Rainbow Brite/Dracula crossover, is it?  Sparkling vampires?  Really?”

“No, no; I was drunk when I came up that!  I’m thinking another Die Hard remake!”

“What?  Haven’t we done that a zillion times already?”

“Well… yeah… but they still seem to sell, don’t they?”

“All right, so what’s the twist this time?  Is it on a plane or on train?  On a boat, or with a goat?”

“Of course not, boss!  It’s set in a skyscraper!”

“A skyscraper?  You idiot!  That’s where the real Die Hard took place!”

“Exactly!  That’s why no one else would think to try it again!  The rip-off is so blatant, it’s original!”

“Hmm, true.  But come on; there’s got to be a twist to it.”

“Okay, picture this… everyone does cops and army guys, so instead of that, we’ll make our star a helicopter pilot!  Not an army helicopter pilot, but a civilian one!  Like a sky taxi driver!”

“You’re already boring the hell out of me.”

“Oh, but wait!  This is no ordinary sky taxi driver!  This one’s played by Anna Nicole Smith!”

“Anna Nicole Smith?  You mean the 1993 Playmate of the Year?”

“Yup, that’s her!  The one from the magazine with all the pages that stick together  that you keep hidden in your desk.  That’s where I got the idea, actually.  We’ll call her character ‘Wink’ – y’know, like we’re ‘winking’ at the audience – and we’ll call her company ‘Heliscort’, like she’s running an escort service!  Wink, wink!  Ha ha!”

“Can she even act?”

“Does it matter?  Her boobs are ginormous, man, and I’ve got a shower and two sex scenes written in to seal the deal.  That’s all our money back on our first runs for Blockbuster right there, just from dudes who are too chicken to get real Playboy videos!”

“But didn’t Anna Nicole Smith gain something like sixty pounds after-”

“Doesn’t matter.  I took the liberty of filming the shower scene first as, er, test footage, if you want to have a look.”

“Hmm… I see your point.  But what about cross market appeal?  Chicks with big boobs and no other skills don’t seem to draw in the women, for some reason.  At least that’s what my sister tells me.”

“We can have her talk about wanting to have a baby all the time!  Chicks dig babies.  We can even have some shots of her real kid riding a big wheel around the place between gun battles.  Make it more family friendly.”

“I like the way you think, kid.  Go make it happen.  Just make it happen for under a few hundred bucks, okay?  And get me some more booze, willya?  I just ran out for some reason.”

While this may or may not be how the pitch meeting for Skyscraper actually went, it’s got to be damn close.  Welcome to one of the dumbest, most asinine direct-to-video rip-offs in action movie history.  Welcome to Skyscraper.

To suggest that Skyscraper merely insults the viewer’s intelligence is itself an insult to the viewer’s intelligence.  Insults merely annoy, after all; this movie actually kills brain cells.  In their flagrant pursuit of that demographic better known as “guys too chicken to get real Playboy videos,” the filmmakers have bet that the power of Anna Nicole Smith’s boobs will be enough to either hide or make irrelevant every other ridiculous sin the rest of their movie commits.  For example:

They don’t want you to notice that they only have one helicopter, even though there are two in the movie.  However, even if you didn’t notice that the “Heliscort” and “Police” helicopters happen to have the same paint job (just with a different logo slapped on), it’s hard to miss that they both have exactly the same ID number written in large letters on the side.

They don’t want you to notice that they probably only had that one helicopter available to them for one day of shooting, if that, but it’s pretty hard to miss that they keep recycling the exact same landing sequence every single time the chopper comes down.  (Always the same motion, always the same rooftop, though they do make a token effort by filming it from two different angles.)

They don’t want you to notice the rest of their recycled footage, either.  Unfortunately for them, it’s kind of hard to depend on the blinding power of boobs to keep the audience from picking up on the bad guys making the exact same RPG shot over and over again when they do it before the boobs show up.  Oops.

They don’t want you to notice that even within the scope of their derivative, paper-thin plot, there’s no actual reason for the bad guys to take over the building.  Kinda like they don’t want you to notice that hiring a random sky taxi as your terror transportation is like hiring a random Yellow cab to sit as your getaway car for a bank robbery while you hope no one reports what you’re up to.  Alas, when a movie is so paceless as to feel like it has no real forward motion whatsoever, these things are hard to miss.

You can’t help but notice the endless stream of direct lifts from Die Hard throughout Skyscraper, from the treacherous sleaze who offers to give up the hero(ine) to the people tossed out of windows, but the filmmakers want you to pretend that they’re fun instead of being pathetic.  This might have worked if they had any idea what “fun” is.  Hint: it’s not trading the German accents of the Die Hard cast for French ones in this flick.

You can’t help but notice that they named a dorky security guard with big glasses “Dudley Wright” and saddled him with the nickname “Do.”  (I trust you’re smart enough to put that together yourself.)  This, too, is not nearly as hilarious as someone must have thought it was with a script deadline looming in the wee hours of the morning.

You can’t help but notice the little kid (played by Anna Nicole Smith’s real kid, who tragically passed on even before she did) riding a big wheel around the skyscraper’s cubicle farms, but the filmmakers are really hoping you won’t feel compelled to yell “WTF?” when you see him.  Alas, when the kid is back on the big wheel even after the bad guys have barely missed discovering him (and allegedly scared the living crap out of him in the process, especially since he’s worried that his mommy is dead), this is no longer possible.

These seven sins and many more, the filmmakers are hoping that you will either miss or dismiss due to the power of Anna Nicole Smith’s boobs, which they bring to the fore at regular intervals, including several close up shots so blatant that her already monstrous chest gets blown up to several times life size even on the smallest of screens.  (How to put this in perspective… 32 inch screen = bigger than 12 inch nipples, okay?)  However, whereas in most cases, the ex-Playmate willing to bare all serves as a pleasant distraction and indeed a relief for cheap crap like Skyscraper, here, the presence of Anna Nicole Smith only makes things worse.

And by worse, I mean “a twelve pack may not be enough.”

To suggest that Anna Nicole Smith can’t act her way out of a paper bag is like suggesting that a spraying skunk smells bad; we hold these truths to be self-evident.  And the thing here is that Anna Nicole Smith knows it herself.  You’re not the only one who thinks that watching her act is a pain akin to unanaesthetized dental surgery; that’s the same expression she’s wearing the entire time, too!  Listening to her read most of her lines is like listening to nails on a chalkboard (she doesn’t speak her lines; she whines them), especially when she pauses mid-sentence in such a way that literally suggests that she’s reading off of cue cards.  The only lines that she manages to deliver cleanly are obviously dubbed (the lip sync is off), and even those… ow. 

It doesn’t help that she spends the entire movie carrying on (at length) about how she wants to have a baby and how her husband is a jerk because he doesn’t want one.  Oh, yeah.  That’ll draw in the action fans.  Sure.

And this same character is supposed to instantly recognize a quotation from Shakespeare’s “Henry IV”?  Not a bloody chance, people.

“All right, fine,” I hear many of you saying, “but what about the boobs?”

Remember that dental procedure expression I mentioned her wearing whenever she has to talk?  She wears it when she’s naked, too, though on a few occasions she switches over from “uncomfortable” to “bored.”  If the sex scenes in Skyscraper (one of which is obviously “clothed from the waist down,” and both of which are overlaid with some really bad slow pop ballad material) do anything but make you yawn… I feel very sorry for you indeed, my friend.  There is just nothing the least bit exciting going on here.  Nothing.  At.  All.  You want to see Anna Nicole Smith go at it that badly?  You’re already on the Internet, people; it shouldn’t be too difficult from there.  Sitting through Skyscraper just is not worth the brain trauma.  Trust me.

Bottom line, there is just nothing worthwhile that can be said about Skyscraper.  If you think the boobs are worth it, they’re not.  At the end of the day, all you’ve got is the single worst Die Hard rip-off ever made starring a former Playmate of the Year who can’t act worth a damn and who’s stuck whining about wanting to have a baby for 96 minutes that you will never, ever get back.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, March, 2012

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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