Dwayne Johnson takes non-sequel route to stand out in summer crowd

Actor Dwayne Johnson attends the premiere of Skyscraper in New York City, on July 10, 2018.
Actor Dwayne Johnson attends the premiere of Skyscraper in New York City, on July 10, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - A glance through the summer movie schedules reveals one rather depressing common denominator: Every single big budget release is a sequel - apart from one.

Dwayne Johnson cuts a solitary figure in that all-important late May to early August period - when movie-goers seek refuge from the heat in air-conditioned multiplexes - as the only star of an entirely original blockbuster.

Even Skyscraper is something of a 1970s and 1980s disaster movie pastiche, with Johnson walking - or climbing, much of the time - the well-worn path of the traditional action hero.

"I wanted to make a movie that was an homage to Die Hard and Towering Inferno, The Fugitive, Cliffhanger, movies like that," the 46-year-old star said at a premiere in New York on Wednesday (July 11).

It has been a tough few months for film fans desperate to see something a little more nuanced than giant robots and men in tights fighting in mid-air.

I t has not entirely been a summer of retreads, capes and spandex suits, of course.

Adrift was based on the true story of a couple who get stranded in the Pacific Ocean.

Horror hit Hereditary, sports comedy Uncle Drew, knockabout comedy Tag and noir thriller Hotel Artemis were also originals.

Ironically, given its unique status among the summer sequels, Skyscraper has been criticised for being derivative.

It has been admired in some quarters, however, for presenting women in empowering roles, including Neve Campbell, who plays the wife of Johnson's character.