Friday, September 27, 2013

Review: The Tower (2012)

The Tower (2012)

The Tower, a loose remake of the 1974 Irwin Allen disaster epic The Towering Inferno, is a perfectly serviceable disaster movie. As you can gather from the above poster, this is a Korean film, and apparently a highly successful one at that, going by how it made back four times its budget. The fact that I watched this film with an English dub track makes it very difficult for me to judge the acting, though I can say that little effort was made to match the words to the movement of the characters' lips, and a lot of the dub actors chose to ham it up greatly -- something that I appreciated, given that we are talking about a movie whose chief attraction (to this American viewer, at least) is the destruction on display.

And this movie delivers. It had a budget of less than $10 million, and it stretched every last penny to the breaking point. The action set pieces here will probably be familiar to anybody who's seen a disaster flick before -- firefighters battling a blaze, a restaurant collapsing, a bridge breaking apart, and of course, the final collapse of the eponymous tower -- but it's all done so well that one can forgive the lack of originality. Even with the noticeable CGI work, I was still engrossed by how the scenes themselves were pulled off. The characters, too, are a mishmash of disaster movie archetypes -- the emergency service workers (the firefighters, here), the Cassandra whose warnings of impending disaster go unheeded (the security manager for the building), his love interest, the obstructive bureaucrat/businessman who wants to go ahead anyway (screw the frozen water lines and poor ventilation, we're holding the grand opening party!), the rich asshole who you know is gonna bite it to the cheers of the audience (though sadly, she doesn't -- a grave oversight), and lastly, the funny comic relief guy (an uber-Christian lotto winner who's invited his family over to his new condo). It's corny and cliched, and it knows it and embraces it. If anything, the film's biggest problem is that it sometimes goes a bit overboard on the schmaltz, often not working as well as, say, an Unstoppable or a 2012 when it comes to getting audiences to buy into it. A lot of the film's emotional beats start to ring hollow after the tenth or so time that it's moved onto the next group of characters.

Score: 3 out of 5

A very enjoyable disaster movie that makes for a great rental from Redbox if you're willing to put up with a laughable dubbing job (or with subtitles) and a cliched plot and characters.

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