Olympus Has Fallen, a Partial Un-Biased Review

I will preface this review by stating that I am a bit biased. Mind you, I am completely aware of the inconvenience I am placing on the very nature and rules of critical assessments, but, as it were, I don’t care. Furthermore, I think a biased review is sometimes entirely necessary. For you see, whether a movie, book, or song proves brilliant or not, certain audience members are going to dislike it; likewise, even if a movie is a steaming pile of wretched poo, certain citizens of society will find great entertainment in it. Thusly, I think it is important to classify some reviews based on audiences. Ergo this review.  Also, I’ve never claimed to be a movie critic.

How’s that for argument?

Olympus Has Fallen opens just as every other movie involving the safety of the President and the first family does: with a charming, heartwarming look into their “real” lives and love of one another.

And then things go wrong.

And then other things go wrong.

And then the whole country is in deep doo doo.

But the president is in really deep doo doo.

And then there’s the hero guy who somehow misses every gun shot and bomb; he knows things that nobody else in the world seems to know; he’s always one step ahead of the bad guy; always in the right place at the right time; and always spewing out the best one-liners.

Of course, there’s also the round table of other major political US players arguing over what to do, chatting with the bad guy via whatever the latest technological advancement in communication may be, and refusing to “negotiate with terrorists.”

So where am I going with this? Well, simply, this is a political action thriller as political action thriller fan’s love them; exciting, fast, explosive, violent, and completely outlandish. But directed by Training Day’s Antione Fuqua, who was less concerned about making a movie to compare to his former classics and more focused on creating a great movie to stand on it’s own,  any action fan could expect nothing but the best in terms of visual suspense.

Additionally, new comer screen writers Creighton Rothenburger and Katrin Benedikt were able to stay alarmingly true to the intricate details of what would enable a terrorist group to take over the White House. So much so that the attack scene reads as a bit of a “how to” book. Or maybe I’m just paranoid. Regardless, for the sake of entertainment, these details make this movie one hell of a ride.

An incredible cast rounds up this movie complete with Gerard Butler, Angela Basset, Aaron Eckhart, Melissa Leo, and of course, Morgan Freeman. Also starring in this film is the immaculate reconstruction of the White House as this movie was shot in Shreveport, Louisiana.

 

If you are confused as to whether or not this is a positive movie review, I assure you, I am too. But mostly it is. For you see, as a die hard action movie fan myself, I was less preoccupied and concerned with the predictable formula of the script and more so captivated and enthralled by the action unfolding on the screen.

And isn’t that what every action lover goes to see an action movie for?

I think so.

  

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Box Office Preview: The Dark Knight is Finally Rising!

The Dark Knight Rises

After a four (although it felt like 400) year wait, the Caped Crusader is finally back in the third and final film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, “The Dark Knight Rises.” I don’t think I’d be able to do the plot justice in just a few sentences, so let’s stick to the official synopsis (although it doesn’t really capture the complexities either):

It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act. But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans for Gotham drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile. But even if he dons the cape and cowl again, Batman may be no match for Bane.

For obvious reasons, the Joker won’t be appearing in the film. There’s plenty of room for argument, but I absolutely think Nolan and company made the right decision in not recasting the role. Although we won’t be getting any more of the Clown Prince of Crime, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman will return as Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, Lucius Fox, and Commissioner Gordon, respectively. The new additions to the cast are just as impressive. Anne Hathaway will play Selina Kyle, also known as Catwoman, and Tom Hardy will play Bane, the film’s main villain. Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be playing a young cop named Robin John Blake, and Marion Cotillard appears as Miranda Tate. If you couldn’t tell, when Nolan likes an actor, he’s not the type who doesn’t call back. What is that, half the cast of “Inception?” And Ellen Page probably would’ve made an awesome Harley Quinn.

Currently certified fresh and sitting at an 87 percent on the Tomatometer, it’s a foregone conclusion that “The Dark Knight Rises” is going to be awesome. How couldn’t it be? It’s Christopher Nolan. It’s Batman! The only thing that could ruin it is if you go into the theater expecting it to top 2008’s “The Dark Knight.” Don’t do that, it’s not fair. The new film’s predecessor isn’t just the best Batman movie of all time, or the best superhero movie of all time, or the best in this genre or that one, it’s among the top ten films ever made, period. Even if Heath Ledger hadn’t ruined things but up and dying on us (too soon?), it’s unlikely this film could top that one.

No other movies are seeing a wide release this week, because no one messes with the Batman. I’m posting the trailer below, both so you can check it out and to avoid the spoilers I’ve heard are all over YouTube comments sections (I can’t say for sure, because I refuse to look, not even for you, dear reader).

Follow the writer on Twitter @NateKreichman.

  

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Weekend box office: “Saw 3D” tortures its way to the top

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Even given my low information preview Thursday night, there really weren’t any big surprises this Halloween weekend as the seventh installment in the “Saw” series, but the first in 3D and therefore logically entitled “Saw 3D,” extracted a healthy but far from huge sum from audiences. The amount was an estimated $22.5 million for Lionsgate if you believe Box Office Mojo and the Playlist, or $24.2 million if you believe Nikki Finke and Anthony D’Alessandro. D’Allesandro, as usual guest/co-blogging with Anne Thompson, also tells us that it really does appear that 3D drove this film to its modest success, with 92% of tickets being sold for “digital hubs,” which I assume translates into 3D screens.

I wonder if that means the film will pay a commensurate price in home video for at least as long as home 3D remains rare. It’s also worth noting that the $20 million budget — modest by Hollywood standards but large by horror film standards — is double that of the prior films and the take is about $10 million below the opening weekends of the series at its peak. Still, making back your budget on opening weekend is never bad.

“Saw 3D” merited a B- on Cinemascore and apparently gave series fans what they want (misery, and lots of it, I gather), though their numbers be diminishing. Now that some of them have finally seen it, what critics want, however, is for the series to end with the  film currently getting drubbed by all but one scribe on Rotten Tomatoes. EW‘s Owen Gleiberman‘s more positive review is less a good review and more a bit of a confession — even the gore hardened critic had to turn away from the screen at one point or risk becoming physically ill — and a rumination on whether it’s even appropriate to enjoy a movie that sounds so invested in human pain that it should never have been allowed anything remotely short of an NC-17. (Which should not be seen as punitive or a a box office kiss of death, but let’s not open that can of worms right now, except that I just did.)

Helen Mirren, Bruce Willis, and Morgan Freeman look relieved in Moving right along in a relatively slow weekend with competition for people’s time heavy from the holiday, the election, and maybe even Jon Stewart’s rally, last week’s much less physically aggressive horror hit, “Paranormal Activity 2,” endured a very usual second-week horror drop  of just under 60% that still left enough for an estimated $16.5 million in the #2 spot. The leggy action-comedy “RED” was #3 with an estimate of $10.8 million and change. And “#4 “Jackass 3D” is predictably sinking like a stone at $8.425 million. However, it started at such a profitable point it actually crossed the $100 million mark in its third week. There are no tears at Paramount.

In limited release, the week’s two highest per-theater takes was as art-house as art-house gets. The single theater showing “Waste Land,” a documentary about Brazilian trash-gatherer/artists, earned a hefty $11,600 estimate over it’s weekend. Meanwhile, the two venues final thriller directed by the late Claude Chabrol “Inspector Bellamy” starring Gérard Depardieu, raked in a very healthy estimated $11,200.  This one is on my list.

  

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It’s weekend box office preview time: It’s “Jackass 3D” vs. Helen Mirren with a gun.

Guess which movie I’m rooting for? As usual, however, I won’t get what I want. It’s hard to imagine that the audience for “Jackass 3D” will accept seeing the gross-out-a-thon in any other format and for that reason alone the docu-comedy is expected to outgross the very strong competition from the comic book adaptation, “RED” (as in “Retired, Extremely Dangerous”) which stars Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Mary Louise-Parker, Karl Urban, and Fred Grandy as Gopher, I think.

Helen Mirren and John Malkovich are

Both the L.A. TimesBen Fritz and THR’s ever-jolly (despite his lousy new theme music) Carl DiOrio agree that the cleverly pitched comedy thriller, putting mostly older actors in the traditionally young-skewing over-the-top action genre, should net about $25 million. The even more cleverly framed “Jackass 3D” should, however, ride those expensive tickets, the spectacle of three dimensional bodily by-products, and the tendency of young males to see movies opening weekend, to about $30 million or more. “RED” should have the longer legs, but presumably “Jackass” has the smaller budget (medical insurance bills for the cast notwithstanding). Both will do fine.

It’s a very busy weekend in limited release. Artistically speaking, the most important films of the bunch will likely turn out to be Olivier Assayas’s mega massive and hugely praised true-life political thriller, “Carlos,” about the notorious far-left terrorist of the 1970s which you can watch all 330 minutes of this weekend in a few showings at the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles, and I’m tempted to. A shorter 2.5 hour cut is also available for people with less stout buttocks and/or lives to lead. On the other hand, one can never sneeze at a new movie by Clint Eastwood, and “Hereafter,” his second movie to star Matt Damon, begins to appear. This time, the octogenarian Mr. Eastwood takes on the topic of death itself.

Meanwhile, 542 theaters are going to be empty save for a few hardcore tea parties, I predict, this weekend as “I Want Your Money” opens. I’m actually sitting on an interview with director and would-be conservative answer to Michael Moore, Ray Griggs, from Comicon which will likely never see the light of day because it’s mostly quite dull and he had really nothing to say of interest to say about the movie we were actually supposed to talk about. It only got interesting when he mentioned this movie, which he dishonestly tried to pitch to me as nonpartisan. I smelled a cinema rat and, as I now know, the cast is dominated by famed Republican pols like Mike Huckabee and Newt Gringrich. However, a PR person ended the interview before I could try and figure out what the story really was.

Most conservatives would never believe me, but I don’t assume “I Want Your Money” is extremely bad because I disagree with its politics, I assume it’s extremely bad because Griggs last (apolitical) movie got a rare 0% from Rotten Tomatoes, including being slammed by the New York Post’s conservative Kyle Smith. He also couldn’t discuss “I Want Your Money” — or the other movie — with me in a straightforward fashion which doesn’t speak well for him or either movie.  To quote the old rock and roll song, sometimes bad is bad.

  

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You want a violent movie trailer? I’ve got two.

I’m still a bit busy and distracted by various matters including the ongoing Los Angeles Film Fest and last night’s L.A. premiere of “Animal Kingdom,” an ultra-neo-noir Aussie crime drama/suspense film that’s a bit dour for my taste but which boasts some outstanding performances and characterization, and a dynamite third act that my mind is still reeling from. Nevertheless, I’ve got a couple of trailers here that promise some fairly provocative manners of death dealing of the more frivolous and, perhaps, fun variety. We’ll start with the Red Band trailer for “Predators” for the wanton monster bloodshed and destruction you demand and the F-word you expect. H/t Den of Geek.

Via Cinemablend, and on a somewhat higher plane — because how can the sight of Dame Helen Mirren wielding a machine and blowing shit up not be on a very high plane indeed — comes the non-superhero comic book adaptation “RED,” as in “Retired, extremely dangerous.” Yep, it’s the action movie first-wave baby boomers have all been waiting for. It’s also got Morgan Freeman, the beautiful Mary Louise Parker, an excessively MK-Ultra‘d John Malkovich, and some other bald dude from the eighties.

Did you know that a quite young Helen Mirren might have been the first actress to appear nude in a mainstream studio film, 1969’s “Age of Consent,” directed by Michael Powell? I just felt like mentioning that.

  

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