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Olympus Has Fallen: My Review.

This was the first of two invasion of the White House movies. The second movie, White House Down,  came out November on DVD 2013. The movie stars Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett. I will review White House Down at a later date.

Olympus Has Fallen was rated R and in terms of action and violence it lives up to that rating. As I have mentioned many times on this blog, I have geared myself toward more lighthearted movies. This was not one of them. While I did enjoy the movie over-all, it was almost too violent for my enjoyment.

Gerard Butler plays a secret service agent who wants to redeem himself. I will not give that away, in fact this will be a spoiler-free review. The President, played by Echart, is trying to improve relations with North Korea when the White House is attacked by those very same North Koreans. With the president and vice-president incapacitated Morgan Freeman (as Speaker of the House) becomes the acting President. Butler and Freeman, along with Angela Bassett as the Director of the United States Secret Service have to team together as the threats and destruction continue to increase.

Pros: The action is very intense and the story did hook me into caring for these people. That is essential in any movie.  All the actors did a fine job in their roles. What I liked about Morgan Freeman’s portrayal and acting is that his character did not start out as the larger-than-life authoritative figure we know that Morgan Freeman is capable of playing. He gets thrown into this situation and you can see he is unsure of himself and does not know what to do. As the movie progresses his strength and abilities come to the surface.

Cons: My cons are that it was too violent and even violent in a graphic way. Scene of the President being hurt and his staff being tortured and executed are painful to watch. Also, I like these types of movies to have some fun and humor to them. This movie is grim and joyless. Although it is filled with patriotism I would not call this a fun movie to watch. This movie is like “Die Hard in the White House” and it is also similar to Air Force One. So in many ways the movie did not have anything new to offer.

I am going to begin a star rating system based on 5 stars being the best. Therefore this movie rates ***1/2.

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Armageddon & Deep Impact

Every now and then Hollywood will put out two movies with the same theme. This year it was terrorists at the White House with such movies as Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down. I have yet to see those two movies and as soon as I pick them both up I will give you my reviews.

I recently watched both of the comet/asteroid doomsday movies Armageddon &  Deep Impact. They have similar themes but the movies are different in many ways. They both came out in the summer of 1998. Deep Impact starred  Robert Duvall, Téa Leoni, Elijah Wood, Vanessa Redgrave, Maximilian Schell, and Morgan Freeman. Armageddon starred  Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler, Owen Wilson, Will Patton, Peter Stormare, William Fichtner, Michael Clarke Duncan, Keith David and Steve Buscemi.

In Deep Impact reporter Téa Leoni uncovers a secret that a recent ambassador resigned over an affair. Upon further investigation she discovers that it is a cover-up for a Coment that is about to hit the Earth. Morgan Freeman plays the president and Robert Duvall heads up the shuttle team that is going to land on the comet and drill a hole in order to detonate a nuke. There is also a side story featuring Elijah Wood who was one of the people who discovered the comet and how he tries to save his family and girlfriend from the coming disaster.

In Armageddon an asteroid the size of Texas is heading toward Earth and NASA recruits a rag-tag team of drilling experts led by Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck. The movie covers their training and launch onto the asteroid to destroy it before it reaches the point of no return.

The biggest differences between the two movies are the tone of the films. Deep Impact is played as serious drama and is rated R, and Armageddon, plays like a disaster film also full of drama, but one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Both films had mixed reviews although Deep Impact has a 47% negative rating at Rotten tomatoes while Armageddon has a 39% negative rating on the same site.

After watching them both back to back I really enjoy them both pretty closely but I have to give the edge to Armageddon because it is such a fun movie. Deep Impact has Morgan Freeman and Robert Duvall and that gives the movie high ratings in my book they are two of my favorite actors as well as two of the finest to ever grace the big screen. However, the movie is very sad and heart wrenching and the older I get the more I just want to have fun at the movies. I don’t often get in the mood to have my heart wrenched. ‘

Deep impact has the wise cracking Bruce Willis and the NASA official played by Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton. The movie also has a long list of very excentric and colorful characters led by Michael Clarke Duncan and Steve Buscemi. Having the beautiful Liv Tyler doesn’t hurt the movie either, along with the music provided by her father’s group Areosmirth.

My problem with Armageddon is that it falls apart a bit in the third act. It gets over th top in an already over the top movie. The actions get confusing with all the explosions and it is hard to follow what is going on at times and who is surviving and who is dying. There also seems to be one cliff hanger after the other. The movie does redeem itself at the end though. Armageddon was directed by Michael Bay the king of explosions and there are plenty in this film.

In conclusion both movies are enjoyable for me to watch I give Armageddon the edge because it is a fun movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Oblivion: My Review

I picked up the latest Science-Fiction epic Oblivion. Sometimes I get a little worried buying  a movie sight unseen but this time it certainly did not disappoint! The movie stars Tom Cruise and Morgan Freeman and was directed by Joseph Kosinski and based on his graphic novel of the same name. The movie is one of the apocalyptic films which displays the planet earth after it has been destroyed by aliens.

I have decided this will be a spoiler free review because I think this is a movie you really need to see for yourself and to see it unfold before you. I will give a basic synopsis of the plot. It is the year 2077, 60 years after earth was invaded by aliens. Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and his partner Victoria “Vika” Owen, played by the beautiful Andrea Riseborough, are the only ones on  after the invasion and they are there to repair drones that are fighting off the residual alien resistance. The surviving inhabitants of earth are living on Titan one of the moons of Saturn. Harper meets up with Malcolm Beech a resistance fighter played by the legendary Morgan Freeman (one of my very favorite actors) and he also begins to have flash backs to a time he was with a woman on the Empire State Building prior to the alien invasion. Things begin to unravel and we begin to see that appearances can be deceptive.

Pros: The cinematography and special effects are stellar. This movie is great eye candy but you do not get an overdose of it. The acting is great and two of my favorites, Cruise and Freeman, are in this film and do a fine job. This is my first time seeing Andrea Riseborough and I enjoyed her performance. She portrays a sense of vulnerability while also wanting to stay in denial concerning the things Jack is discovering. I do like the story. Some of the criticisms I have read that there are plot elements that we have seen in other movies. While I can agree with that assessment, I can also see that this is common in Hollywood movies. I am fine with movies that may have similar plot elements to other movies as long as it is executed well and that is the case with this movie. I also enjoy the story. The movie mixes romance, mystery and action adventure into a tale that will keep the viewer engaged and caring about all the characters throughout. Despite great special effects this is a very character driven movie.

Cons: I really have only one minor complaint. Director Kosinski wanted this movie to be an homage to the science fiction films of the 70s and in many way he succeeds in that endeavor. The movie is paced more like a film from the 70s and it is slower than the more kinetic pacing we modern viewers and grown accustomed to. Is that a fault of the directors or is it a fault of the viewer? I will place blame on myself. We live in a fast paced mircowave society that wants instant gratification. So it was hard to slow down and get absorbed into the story. I just wasn’t used to it. So really this is not a con, it is just something that the viewer needs to be aware of when going in to the movie. It is an old-fashioned movie and as I think more on the pacing it really does work even though some viewers might not be used to it.

This movie does have some good re watch capabilities for me. As a mystery there are clues throughout the movie and on more than one viewing you can pick up on these clues. In an era where science fiction films that are heavy with CGI they are like cotton candy for the mind. This one is not. It will make you think and keep you on your toes.

 

Here come the Summer Blockbusters!!! Part 1

It is that time of year! Summer Blockbuster Season! The season begins in May so I would like to highlight the movies that I am interested in seeing. This first movie actually comes out April 19th! I will not be placing these movies in the order they are released, but more in the order of my interest.

 Man of Steel (June 14)

Superman, my all time favorite Superhero, is getting a new start in the theaters. I have been waiting for this for a long time! General Zod is the main villain and has not been seen in a major motion picture since Superman II over 30 years ago. Directed by Zack Snyder (of 300, Watchmen) and produced by Chrisopher Nolan of the Batman movies. Now I was fearful we would get a dark brooding Superman, but from all resports that is not how this movie will be played. It will be played like it is happning in the real world, but it will not be as dark as the Batman trilogy. Henry Cavill stars as Kal-El, Clark Kent, Superman, the Man of Steel.

Star Trek Into Darkness (May 17)

Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto are back as Kirk and Spock, but I am very excited to see if Benedict Cumberbatch can be evil enough on his own to become a legendary sci-fi villain. Rumors are still flying around the net to just who he is playing. As a HUGE Star Trek fan I cannot wait to see this new installment of the rebooted franchise. This movie looks to have more action and adventure than the 2009 Star Trek and I am fine with that!

Pacific Rim  (July 12)

This movie will have to tide me over until next year’s Godzilla comes out in May of 2014. “Today we are cancelling the apocalypse!” Directed by Guillermo del Toro (of Cronos, Blade II, Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth) the movie features giant monsters (Kaiju) and human-driven robots to match them. This movie is Sci-fi as its best, and with the director being a fan of the giant monster genre he has crafted a movie with fantastic detail and designed to overwhelm our nerdy sci-fi expectations.

 Oblivion (April 19)

The second feature from sci-fi filmmaker Joe Kosinski (of Tron Legacy), this time envisioning a futuristic world where humans have been driven off Earth to space stations above a desolate planet. Tom Cruise stars with Olga Kurylenko and Morgan Freeman. The special effects look stunning. There is still a lot about the story that is under wraps. Cruise and Freeman are two of my favorite actors so it will be very interesting to see them together. Although I often do not like depressing dystopian movies this one looks more like an action adventure with mystery thrown in.

Iron Man 3 (May 3)

The first Iron Man movie is one of the best Superhero movies ever made. (until I see Man of Steel) Yes, I enjoyed it more than Batman Begins which came out the same year, 2005. Iron Man 2 was a bit of a let down even though I still enjoyed the movie. If the trailer is any indication this looks to have upped the action. Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sir Ben Kinglsey round out this all star cast.

Stay tuned for Part 2 on Friday!

The Dark Knight Rises: My Review

Thanks to my lovely daughter sending me my Christmas present early, I finally saw The Dark Knight Rises. After Superman, Batman is my second favorite superhero. I will stick to the review of the movie and at a later date, sometime next week, I will examine the entire franchise. This movie does end the trilogy that began with 2005’s Batman Begins. Christopher Nolan has gone on record to say that there will not be a fourth installment of the Batman series in what fans call the Nolan Universe. I have heard mixed reports of whether or not Christian Bale would ever play Batman again.

Here is my synopsis of the movie: The movie takes place eight years after the events in The Dark Knight. Gotham has Harvey Dent Day on the anniversary of his death and has also passed the Dent Act which has rid Gotham of organized crime. Bruce Wayne has become a recluse and walks with a cane as his body has taken too many beatings as Batman. But a storm is coming to Gotham in the name of Bane, a masked hulk of a man who is coming to finish the job the League of Shadows was trying to accomplish in the first movie. Helping Bane at first is Slena Kyle a cat burgler who steals Bruce Wayne’s finger prints and tries to sell them off in exchange for a computer device that will wipe out her criminal record.

There is also a cop, a former orphan, Tim Drake, that has figured out Batman’s secret identity and tries to enlist Batman to return to Gotham. Soon Bane strikes and takes hostages from the Gotham Stock Exchange where Wayne’s stolen finger prints are used to steal money. This forces Batman to come out of retierment and he helps Selena Kyle get away from the criminals who are now turning on her. In exchange for the “clean slate” device Batman convinces Selena to bring him to Bane. When Selena brings Batman to Bane we discover that Bane knows who Batman is and begins to brutally beat up Batman in front of Selena. Bane breaks Batman’s back and dumps him in a hellish prison somewhere in the world. Meanwhile, as the police have discovered his location in the sewers, over 3,000 police officers come to capture him. This is all part of Bane’s plan as he explodes bombs all round the city and beneath the football stadium, trapping the police beneath the surface. Also, Bane has destroyed all but one bridge leading into the city and releases all prisoners and therefore holds the entire city hostage.

There is also a side story of Bruce Wayne and Miranda Tate. She becomes a love interest of Wayne and then a board member of Wayne Enterpise and encourages Bruce to get back into life. Alfred, disagrees with Bruce returning as Batman and feels that it will lead to his death and quits his service and leaves.

The Prison Bruce Wayne is dumped in is at the bottom of a giant Well-like structure and the only means of escape is to walk the narrow walk way on the sides. The problem is that there is a large gap in the walk way and no one has been successful in leaping across the gap to freedom. The only person to make the jump successfully was a small child born into the prison. Bruce Wayne is lead to believe this was Bane. His back is fixed by a prison doctor and with Bane feeding the Prison with the TV images of what is happening in Gotham, this motivates Bruce who begins to train to get himself back in physical shape. Within 5 months he makes the successful jump to get out of prison.

Bane captures a fusion reactor build by the Wayne foundation to give the city clean renewable energy and he has turned it into a nuclear bomb. In a massive show down Batman defeats Bane and with the help of Selena Kyle and Comissioner Gordon, Batman finds the bomb in the nick of time and carriesd it out to sea for detonation.

I hope that synopsis wasn’t too long winded! The movie it just under three hours and I did leave some elements out. I don’t want to spoil it yet for some friends I know who have not watched the movie. I want to still leave some surprises.

I have said in the past that I had mixed feeling about the Dark Knight and felt that it wasn’t as good as Batman Begins. Well, this movie had many references to the first movie and in many ways had a similar tone to that film and for that reason I did like it a great deal. I was on the edge of my couch and filled with excitment and anticipation while watching the events of this film unfold. This was a very thrilling movie. It was also not as dark as the Dark Knight. While the movie is serious in tone there are a few lighter moments in the film. It did bring back some fun into the franchise.

When Anne Hathaway was cast as Selena Kyle many fans though that this was a fatal flaw, a fatal mistake. I too, questioned this choice. Up until then Hathaway had only been known for playing sweet and more innocent characters. Wow!! How wrong I was to doubt the choice! Hathaway was excellent as Selena Kile. She exhibits quite a range from innoncence, grief to cold indifference. Although technically a villain, Selena is also supposed to be a sympathetic character, which can be a fine line for an actor to walk and Hathaway accomplishes this task with skill and finess. Although she is never called catwoman in the movie she is reffered to as a cat burglar a couple of times. However, make no mistake about it she IS Catwoman and when she is dressed up in her cat burglar outfit there is no doubt who she is. I have to say of all the women to have played the role she is by far the best.

Tom Hardy does an excellent job as Bane. He is not as leathal or as crazy as the Joker but he a formidable opponent. His physical presence and brute force make him greatly intimidating. His mask doesn’t make it too difficult to unsderstand him. There are times in the movie, and this has been my problem throughout the series, when it is difficult to understand what a charcter has said and although is is better in this movie that has been a complaint of mind for the entire series.

I will close this review by stating that Batman Begins is my favorite of the series followed cloesly by the Dark Knight Rises. In a week I will explain why. 🙂 Here are some simple pros and cons.

Pros: It is an exciting action adventure movie. The sets and costumes are done very well and the acting is excellent all around. The story is gripping and suspenseful. The length of the movie, 2 hours and 46 minutes, did not bother me. The movie is nicely paced an movies along with no lagging parts.

Cons: Nolan’s movies sometimes are complex and confusing with the plot. There are times when I am not clear who is who and what is happening and why. For example, after stealing Bruce Wayne’s finger prints (and pearl necklace) Selena disappears with a Congressman after the party. But it really isn’t clear where they are going, why the Congressman has disappeared and just who is it she is selling the finger prints to? Some of these issues are made more clear as the movie progresses, but there are some threads of the film that seem to just dangle in the wind.

I left out the ending and the controversy that surrounds it and will leave it to my review of the entire franchise. All in all I really liked the movie a great deal and I am very happy with it.

Oblivion (2013) Trailer

http://i123.photobucket.com/albums/o306/WmHohenzollern/OBL_OnlineWebArt_1206_4_IGN-610×895.jpg

Even though I frequent movie sites and like to keep up with science-fiction and fantasy films that are coming out, sometimes one or two will slip by me. Like this one. I have not heard of it before. This movie stars Tom Cruise an actor I really like. I am sitting here in amazement to how I missed this one!?

It shows that there are more movies coming out than one person can keep track of? Here is the synopsis from Wikipedia.

A court martial sends a veteran soldier to a distant planet, where he has to destroy the remains of an alien race. The arrival of an unexpected traveler causes him to question what he knows about the planet, his mission, and himself.

Here is a link to the trailer that was just released.  http://youtu.be/aUD_KyOujq8

That trailer was pretty awesome! It also stars Morgan Freeman!!! He is by far one of my top favorite actors of all time and with him in the movie it makes it even more interesting! Here is a list of the majority of the cast.

The movie is based on a graphic novel of the same name and was written by Joseph Kosinski who also one of the writters of the screen play and even directed the movie. Upon further reading I learned that Universal Studios has been keeping this movie a secret which explains why I have not known much about this film.

I am hooked and will add this to one of my must see movies. There is something about the movie that reminds me of Ridley Scott’s movie Prometheus from earlier this year.  It also seems to have a bit of Wal-E from Pixar thrown into the mix.

The movie comes out on April 19, 2013 but will be in IMAX theaters April 12, 2013.

I am excited about this movie.

Are you?