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Posts Tagged ‘Olympus Has Fallen’

Do you remember Deep Impact and Armageddon in 1998, Dante’s Peak and Volcano in 1997 or Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Robin Hood in 1991? There are countless other examples, last year we had two takes on the Snow White fairytale with Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman. Later in the year we will get to see how White House Down compares to Die Hard in the West Wing Olympus Has Fallen. Before that we have the recently released After Earth to pair up with Oblivion from earlier in the year:

The concept

Oblivion: In the future, one man (Tom Cruise) and his wife (Andrea Riseborough) remain on an abandoned earth to maintain the machines set to mine the planets natural resources.

After Earth: In the future, a man and his teenage son (Will Smith and Jaden Smith) crash land on an abandoned and inhospitable earth.

Oblivion and After Earth posters

The Talent

Oblivion: Despite a few missteps in recent years, Tom Cruise is still one of the biggest stars in the world as he has been since the late 80’s. the supporting cast includes Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones) , but the standout performance comes from Andrea Riseborough who is nothing short of amazing in a limited role.

After Earth: The film is book-ended and contains flashbacks with other characters the film is largely a two character movie. The two are played by superstar Will Smith and his son Jaden who you may remember from The Karate Kid. The girl in the flashbacks is played by Zoë (daughter of Lenny) Kravitz last seen in X-Men: First Class.Oblivion & After Earth The Talent

Whose behind the camera?

Oblivion: With just his second feature Joseph Kosinski again shows the visual flare he showed with TRON: Legacy, but again shows a lack of depth in his character development.

After Earth: Newsflash, the Emperor is but fucking naked. M.

Night Shyamalan is not a good director. The Sixth Sense (1999) is just about the most overrated movie of the last twenty years. The Village (2004) is okay and Unbreakable (2000) is a decent film. The rest of his output is forgettable at best.Joseph Kosinski and M Night Shyamalan

The Good

Oblivion: The movie is set within a believable Sci-Fi world. The film is shot largely on location this is enhanced by visual effects rather than dominated by them, this helps it look amazing. The acting is generally good and as mentioned above sometimes amazing.

After Earth: The film looks good and the action scenes are practically well handled.

The bad

Oblivion: The plot and the characters all feel a little thin and the twists and turns in the plot are telegraphed to the audience.

After Earth: The dialogue is terrible at best. The plot is thin and full of holes.

The Similarities

The two movies are both set on a largely abandoned earth and feature megastar actors with something to prove.

The differences

Oblivion is largely plot driven and plays out with a combination action adventure and mystery thriller. After Earth is more like a computer game where one character has to achieve a task within a timescale.Oblivion & After Earth

The Verdict

After Earth isn’t a terrible film and doesn’t deserve the critical pounding it has received. That isn’t to say it is a great film, it is deeply flawed and gets away with a lot thanks to its short running time and well choreographed action. Oblivion is surprisingly good, the end is either perfectly executed or a contrived cop-out depending on your point of view.

The best abandoned Earth movie from 2103 is:oblivion-movie-poster

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Jack the Giant Slayer: The latest cynical attempt to craft a knowing, fun and funny film suitable for all the family from a fairytale. Like most of the previous attempts it is okay attempt, reasonable funny and entertaining but without anything original or exceptional.Jack the Giant Slayer

Dark Skies: Sci-Fi horror about a suburban family that will be very familiar to anyone who has seen any of the Paranormal Activity movies. Not bad but probably one to wait for the DVD or stream.Dark Skies

Spring Breakers: Satire or exploitation? Four young female college students looking for “a break from reality” head to Florida for spring break, there they meet Alien, a drug dealer, rapper and wanabee gangster. Depending on your point of view they get more than they expected and all they ever wanted. Not as hollow and meaningless as some would have you believe but not as edgy or subversive as the filmmakers would like you to think.spring-breakers-640x426

Papadopoulos & Sons: British comedy about a self made millionaire who loses everything and is forced to reopen the family fish and chip shop with his estranged older brother. Lightweight but well-meaning and enjoyable.Papadopoulos & Sons

Oblivion: Set in a dystopian future on an abandoned earth. It has its problems but it looks great and there is enough going on to entertain. Forget the anti Tom Cruise backlash he is actually perfect for the role although totally overshadowed by the mesmerising brilliant Andrea Riseborough who steals the film despite having a relatively small part.oblivion-andrea-riseborough

The Place Beyond the Pines: Splint into three distinct sections. As a whole the film is really good but its lasting impression suffers as each section is a little weaker than the one before. Taken on its own merits the contrivances of the plot are a problem but they rely on coincidence far less outlandish than many Shakespearian tragedy.The Place Beyond the Pines

Olympus Has Fallen: Basically its Die Hard in the White House. It has its problems chef amongst them is not casting an everyman in the lead. That and totally steeling its plot from Die Hard.Olympus Has Fallen aaron eckhart and gerard butler

Evil Dead: It doesn’t know if it wants to be a remake, a rebook, a reimagining or a sequel to the horror classic. It lacks the humour and the originality of the original on a positive note it does still manage to be repugnant and repulsive.Evil Dead

Iron Man 3: The perfect steppingstone between the first and forthcoming second Avengers movie. It ticks all the boxes and avoids all the pitfalls of Iron Man 2. I doesn’t quite live up to the first Iron Man and could do with having about ten minutes trimmed from the running time, mostly in the final act.Iron Man 3

I’m So Excited: Following The Skin I Live In was always going to be an impossible task, that’s why Pedro Almodóvar did the right thing by turning to a lightweight farce, or did he? While on the surface the movie is a silly and irrelevant comedy, not far below the surface is a cutting political allegory. Far from the directors best but still worth seeing.I’m So Excited

The Look Of Love: You never know what to expect from Michael Winterbottom and this biopic of Paul Raymond doesn’t disappoint. It starts well but losses its way towards the end. The casting is perfect, particularly Steve Coogan as Raymond.The Look Of Love

Iron Man 3 is probably the best film of the month, Oblivion was certainly the most pleasantly surprising but the movie of the month has to go to the one that is being talked about most and will probably have the most lasting impact. Surprisingly, the movie of the month is:spring-breakers-posters-slicespring-breakers

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Please note this is not a review of Olympus Has Fallen but is does contain plot spoilers.

When I saw the lazy and lamentable A Good Day To Die Hard back in February I suggested the filmmakers take a look at the original classic Die Hard from 1988 to remind themselves what made it so great. Now two months later I have seen a film made by people who have clearly spent a lot of time watching Die Hard, so much so that at times it felt like a remake. It also had the benefit of a decent director in the shape of Antoine Fuqua. Although he has never recaptured the heights of Training Day (2001) he has made some good dumb fun like The Replacement Killers (1998) and Shooter (2007).

Olympus Has Fallen or Die Hard in The Whitehouse

So with all this going for it Olympus Has Fallen must be a great film? Sadly it isn’t. at risk of damming with faint praise, it isn’t terrible. The problem, going far beyond the confined setting of Nakatomi Plaza/The Whitehouse, the movie totally lacks originality and actually takes key plot points from Die Hard. Including the failed helicopter assault, the hero bumping into one of the terrorist (who is pretending not to be a terrorist), and not forgetting the twist, where the terrorists motives are revealed to be different to what they first appeared to be.John McClane and Mike Banning

Then we move onto Die Hard’s greatest asset, the villain, not only is Hans Gruber one of the best (and best written) villains in movie history, but he is played with relish by Alan Rickman, a great actor who was born to play the role. Rick Yune, isn’t terrible, but he lacks the menace of Rickman’s Gruber as well as an underwritten part.Hans Gruber and Kang

Bruce Willis has become an action hero and is often mentioned in the same breath as fellow 80’s action stars Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, what is often forgotten is Willis only earned this reputation because of Die Hard, prior to that he was best know as the star of TV romantic comedy drama. This everyman quality was one of the things that made John McClane agreat character and more importantly, Die Hard a great film. Casting the man best known for playing King Leonidas prevents any possibility of any everyman quality to Olympus Has Fallen, but it would have been so easy to solve this problem. Simply swap the casting around and making Aaron Eckhart the action hero and Gerard Butler (who also produced) the President.Olympus Has Fallen aaron eckhart and gerard butler

So while I can’t condemn a filmmaker for following my advice of making a film more like Die Hard, I equally can’t praise them for remaking Die Hard. My plea, please come up with some original ideas. And this leads me to a final thought; last week I was left wondering how Oblivion would compare to the similarly themed After Earth due out later this year, Olympus Has Fallen isn’t the only White House under attack movie this year. White House Down is due for release in the summer, given that it is directed by Roland Emmerich, I suspect the American landmark will get even more trashed.

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