One of the several times Dwayne Johnson's character is left hanging on the outside of the "Skyscraper."
One of the several times Dwayne Johnson's character is left hanging on the outside of the "Skyscraper."

Skyscraper (Universal, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 103 min.). On its surface, "Skyscraper" is absurd in all the unlikely scenarios it thrusts upon star Dwayne Johnson, who prevails every time. Writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber even gives Johnson's character a pre-crisis handicap of only having one leg, the other having been blown off below the knee in the hostage showdown flashback the opens the film. Yet, Johnson outdoes Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and Bruce Willis in this combination of "The Towering Inferno" and "Die Hard," with what seems like a bit of "Volcano" thrown in for good measure. (A level of vegetation in the high-rise has fire burst from beneath.)

That said, put your mind in relax mode  and you will enjoy a series of terrific set pieces in the film, which mainly takes place in a 225-floor, new Hong Kino high-rise, called The Sphere. Johnson's character, Will Sawyer, has been hired to check the building's security systems, many of which are controlled in an off-site location. While doing the job, he and his family -- Neve Campbell as wife Sarah and McKenna Roberts and Noah Cottrell as children Georgia and Henry -- are allowed to live in the tower. When the Sawyer family is supposed to be out of the building, terrorists, whose aim is financial, set off fires on the 96th floor of the building and disable the building's fire-fighting systems.

Although things continue to be stacked against Sawyer -- he is accused of murdering two policemen, he has to somehow enter the building above the fire, bad guys are in the building -- he strives to rescue his family, along with the building's creator (Chin Han as Zhao Long Ji). It is the type of film that shows you the wonders of the building, such as the floor filled with mirrors, that you just know are going to come to play big time later on.

The film succeeds as an adrenaline rush thanks to some amazing stunt work and special effects magic. Despite the outcome being fairly obvious, the film builds up a fair amount of anxiety through its pacing and the many times, ludicrous as they may be, that Sawyer is hanging on the outside of the building. Some of the fight sequences are very good as well, especially the early apartment fight.

There is a good selection of extras, including audio commentary by the director and his optional commentary on five deleted scenes (12:07) and five extended scenes (10:17). A trio of short deleted scenes (called just one) have to do with a body in a bathtub, another scene between two police officials is presented in both Cantonese and English, and there is a fun outtake in which Johnson mentions Bruce Willis in an ad lib. There is a look at Johnson and his character that has some behind-the-camera views (4:04); a look at Jeff Glasbrenner, the first U.S. amputee to climb Mt. Everest, who served as an inspiration for the character of Sawyer (4:12); a look at the action sequences and training for Campbell and Hannah Quinlivan, who plays bad girl Xia (3:21); a look behind the apartment fight, showing its choreography and filming (3:21); and a look at the two child actors (2:40). Finally, there is a brief explanation of how Johnson agreed to be in the film (1:38). Thurber also directed Johnson in "Central Intelligence." Grade: film 3.5 stars; extras 2.75 stars

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

Hotel Transylvania 3 (Sony, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG, 97 min.). In the third film in this animated series, which definitely goes for cute more than scary, , Drac (voiced by Adam Sandler) gets roped into a vacation cruise -- in the Bermuda Triangle, no less -- by his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez). Of course, Drac complains that going to a hotel on the sea is not very different from his everyday job of running a hotel. However, first there is a history lesson showing the battles between Abraham Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan) and Drac over the years. (Think Roadrunner cartoons.)

After a ride on the Crappy Gremlin Air -- the plane literally falls apart -- all the familiar monsters from the first  two films arrive at the Legacy cruise ship, where Drac "zings" -- falls in love at first sight -- with Capt. Erika (Kathryn Hahn), who turns out to have some secrets. In the meanwhile, the cruise includes such fun things as water volleyball and a visit to the lost city of Atlantis, which is portrayed as a tall, glitzy Las Vegas casino. At that point, the film turns into "Indiana Jones" for a bit, as an artifact is searched for in a booby-trapped cavern. I must admit that seeing Drac in bright Hawaiian shirts and tiny shorts takes a bit to get used to.

The fast-paced film contains a number of rather funny vignettes involving prodigious reproducer werewolves Wayne (Steve Buscemi) and Wanda (Molly Shannon) and their brood; Frank (Kevin James), aka Frankenstein's Monster; Murray (Keegan-Michael Key), the Mummy; and Invisible Man Griffin (David Spade). The most fun are Wayne and Wanda with their dozens of children. The film's version of the Bermuda Triangle is unique; it is actually a triangle cut out of the ocean, with a pile of derelict ships stacked in the middle.

While it took me a while to get into the film, it soon had me riding merrily along. There are many extras, including audio commentary by director Genndy Tartakovsky and the animators; two new shorts: "Puppy," about the arrival of over-sized Tinkles, which is set between films 2 and 3 (4:55) and a fine "Goodnight Mr. Foot," with a maid unsuccessfully trying not to disturb Bigfoot's sleep (4:07); seven sing-alongs (7:29); four monster lullaby sing-alongs (4:47), a look at the voice talent, which also includes Andy Samberg, Fran Drescher and Mel Brooks (7:29); meeting the new characters (5:40); Johnny's home movies (5:19); a Drac read-along (2:31); five lyric videos; "I See Love" dance party (2:46): and instructions on make-up, drawing Drac, making a watermelon Jack-o-Lantern and planning a sleepover. Grade: film 3 stars; extras 2.75 stars

The Witch Files (Dark Sky DVD, Tween, 87 min.). This film was made in Maine during a 17-day shoot in Bath, Brunswick and Portland. The high school in the film is called Brunswick High, but actually is Morse High School in Bath. In shades of "The Breakfast Club," there is bonding between five girls during school detention; however, one of the girls (Britt Flatmo as Jules) actually is a witch. She later performs a ceremony with the other four and soon all are able to cast spells. Naturally, one of the first spells is that they have already paid for the clothing they walk out of several stores with.

Most of the film, directed and co-written by Kyle Rankin (a University of Maine at Orono graduate whose previous film was "Night of the Living Deb"), is presented in found footage fashion, as Claire (Holly Taylor of TV's "The Americans") is filming a documentary -- initially on detention -- for the student news department. She continues to film all the witchiness; plus, there are views from school security cameras and the like. Things start to get strange when the casting of spells starts causing signs of premature aging in the teenage witches, such as arthritis in the knee of the field hockey player. Overall, it is a pretty good story and it is nice to see familiar locations in the film.

Extras include an interesting audio commentary by Rankin, who points out the locations used and some of the area actors who have roles as extras. The film was made for $200,000 in spring 2016. There also is a behind-the-scenes look, with the actresses talking about their characters (5:27). Grade: film 3 stars; extras 2.5 stars

Unfriended: Dark Web (Universal, Blu-ray or standard DVD, R, 92 min.). The second film in the series again gives the viewpoint of a computer screen, one used by character Matias (Colin Woodell), who is signing to his deaf girlfriend (Stephanie Nogueras as Amaya) on Skype. What we soon find out is that the "new" laptop computer that Matias said he bought through Craigslist, actually was one that was left in the lost and found of the coffee shop he frequents. Soon, the real owner comes on line and demands the computer back, or he will harm Amaya.

During a group Skype session with his friends, Matias uncovers some hidden files on the computer, which leads he and his friends -- particularly Damon (Andrew Lees of TV's "The Originals" and the upcoming film "Mortal Engines") -- to believe the computer's owner is part of a Dark Web group that does horrible things to women for money and posts video of the torture and deaths. Suffice it to say, things do not go well for Matias' group, as death goes from video to reality. It turns out the Dark Web group has learned the computer  and its secrets are in non-group hands.

While the movie does get interesting as it moves along, the beginning was particularly annoying as I had to sit 3 feet in front of my TV in order to read the computer screen messaging. Extras include three alternate endings, which change the fate of Matias and Amaya individually and together. The best ending, including that in the movie, is the alternate one that decides whether Amaya lives. The original "Unfriended," which had supernatural elements, was released in 2014. Grade: film 2 stars; extras 1 star

Sleep No More (RLJE DVD, NR, 90 min.). From the creator of "Final Destination" comes this insular film about four college students who decide to stay up for 200 straight hours (that's 8 1/3 days) so they can reach a state in which their brain is rewired and they no longer need sleep. Most are using a new drug, Cogniphan, developed by Dr. Ella Watley (Yasmine Aker), who just happens to be sleeping with one of the test subjects (Keli Price as Joe).

The film starts with an earlier subject (Lucas Gage as Carter) going off the rails and killing himself after 96 hours. The faculty shuts the project down, but Whatley and four students decide to start a new experiment in secret. Just before halfway through the 200 hours, they start seeing shapes that could be supernatural. They eventually decide these shapes are Somnivores, normally unseen creatures that feed on human dreams and that are now angry because they are being deprived of dreams. The other participating students are Frannie (Brea Grant), Holly (Christine Dwyer) and Dale (Stephen Ellis). There are no bonus features. Grade: film 2.5 stars

Death Race: Beyond Anarchy (Universal, Blu-ray or standard DVD, NR, 110 min.). This is an "unrated & unhinged" version of the fourth film in the remake series. (The original series had two films: 1975's "Death Race 2000" and 2017's "Death Race 2050," both produced by Roger Corman.) The original theatrical version is not included. It is more a direct sequel to 2008's "Death Race" -- the first of the remake series -- and brings back Danny Trejo as Goldberg and Fred Koehler as Lists. Goldberg is now out of prison and running a gambling house in Mexico City, where he also handles betting on the Death Races.

The prison has been moved to The Sprawl, an 88,000-acre decaying city that has been walled in. Frankenstein (Velislav Pavlov, who always wears the mask) runs the prison and has won seven consecutive Death Races. Lists manages to broadcast the races on the Dark Web and the outside authorities cannot shut the broadcasts down. Into all of this chaos, black ops specialist Connor Gibson (Zach McGowan) is thrust, with a secret mission to take out Frankenstein by winning the Death Race. First though, Gibson must win the Death Pit qualifying fight -- think of it as a demolition derby, only with people instead of cars. Gibson's one mistake is falling for bartender Jane (Christine Marzano), a fact that Frankenstein uses against Gibson. Aiding Gibson are Lists and Baltimore Bob (Danny Glover who brings some real acting to the film).

Overall, the film is filled with the ugliest looking cast of extras ever and the competing drivers are not much better. Some of the racing camera work is pretty impressive, both during a motorcycle race and the ultimate Death Race. There is some nudity. Extras include a look at the plot and filming in Bulgaria (5:50); a look at Lists and Goldberg returning to the franchise (3:01); audio commentary by director/co-writer Don Michael Paul and actor McGowan; and, most interesting, a brief look at the cars and filming the race (2:45). Twenty-five race cars were built for the film. Grade: film 2.75 stars; extras 2 stars

Scorpion: The Final Season (CBS/Paramount, 6 DVDs, NR, 15 hours 20 min.). Although I was a faithful watcher of the show, I gave up on it early this season, as it just was not holding my interest anymore. Toby (Eddie Kaye Thomas) and Happy Quinn (Jadyn Wong), expert behaviorist and mechanical prodigy, are now an official couple, as are team leader Walter O'Brien (Elyes Gabel) and Paige Dineen (Katharine McPhee, ex of "American Idol"), their social contact with the outside world. Completing the team are statistics guru Sylvester Dodd (Ari Stidham) and federal agent Cabe Gallo (Robert Patrick).

In this fourth season, the team confronts an extinction event threat linked to global warming, a pregnant and injured deer of a nearly-extinct breed in Africa, Paige and Walter held hostage at a convention, a diabetic dog trapped underground, a solar flare that knocks out power and communications in Southern California, an earthquake-damaged nuclear reactor in Mexico and the air pressure working underground lowers the team's IQs. Guests include Penn Jillette, Shantel VanSanten and Austin Basis. Extras include the cast and crew discussing the major story arcs; a behind-the-scenes interview with the production design and construction teams about the sets; Tina Majorino and the cast discusses the introduction of a new, conflicting character, Florence; a gag reel; and deleted and extended scenes.

SEAL Team: Season One(CBS/Paramount, 6 DVDs, NR, 15 hours 39 min.). The show stars two of my favorite TV actors: David Boreanaz from "Bones," "Angel" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"; and Max Theriot from "Bates Motel." Boreanaz plays Jason Hayes, the intense, veteran leader of the Tier One team, while Theriot is Clay Spenser, a second-generation SEAL who is a rookie. Hayes' home life has suffered due to his extensive overseas service. Hayes feels guilt over the death of one of his men and things lead to an examination of secrets the dead man had, including whether he had been cheating on his wife. Extras include a debriefing with behind-the-scenes cast interviews; a look at the location used to recreate Afghanistan; a sit-down with Dita, SEAL Team's canine cast member and his trainer; a set tour with the production designer; deleted scenes; and a gag reel. Season two is currently being broadcast.

NCIS: New Orleans: The Fourth Season (CBS/Paramount, 6 DVDs, NR, 16 hours 57 min.). A nuclear terror threat, an elusive serial killer and a mystifying supernatural murder are among the cases confronted by Special Agent Dwayne Cassius Pride (Scott Bakula) and his team. They also investigate a 150-year-old cold case. Guest stars include Jimmy Buffett,Tim Russ, Mackenzie Astin, Stacy Keach, Steven Weber and Chelsea Field. Extras include the cast and producers discussing the major story arcs of the season; Bakula and his wife, Chelsea Field, discuss working on set and living together; a behind-the-scenes interview with Daryl "Chill" Mitchell about the season; the cast responding to fans' most frequently asked questions; and deleted scenes. Season five already is being broadcast.