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“Olympus Has Fallen” is an action thriller featuring Secret Service Agents, the President of the United States (a fictitious one, of course, not Obama), and North Korean terrorists. It stars Gerard Butler as agent Mike Banning, Aaron Eckhart as President Benjamin Asher, and Morgan Freeman as Speaker Trumbull. Those are the only names I really recognize; the only other major character is the head terrorist Kang, played by Rick Yune.
Anyway, the story begins on Christmas. While en route from Camp David to a Christmas benefit, the President’s motorcade encounters a winter storm and suffers an accident. The President’s wife dies, but agent Banning manages to save the President before their car goes over a cliff. Unfortunately, as the story progresses, the President shifts Banning to the Treasury Department because he doesn’t want to be constantly reminded about the accident. All returns to normal, at least, for a while: Eighteen months later there is a surprise terrorist assault on the White House masterminded by the North Korean terrorist Kang. It begins with an aerial assault and ends with a ground-based assault (a hefty group of terrorists disguised as tourists) that kills pretty much everyone there, except the important officials (including the President) who are kidnapped and taken to the bunker underneath. Fortunately for everyone, especially the President, agent Mike Banning is on the scene and he goes about the seemingly impossible task of rescuing the group of kidnapped officials as well as the President’s son. To add to the tension, the terrorists are after the codes for the secret military Cerberus program, a fail-safe program designed to detonate American nuclear missiles that have been accidentally launched by the U.S. or launched by clever terrorist groups who have hacked our systems or gained control of a launch site. However, the designers of the program never imagined what Kang and his group of terrorists plan: detonating the missiles while still in their silos to wreak unparalleled destruction on the entire United States (I think this was intended as a twist, but I saw it coming, or at least, saw the flaw right away).
Strengths: well, the plot was well-connected, everything flowed together, and the acting was fine. Weaknesses: the “twist” that the North Koreans wanted to detonate the nukes in their silos was kind of obvious to me (so I don’t feel guilty about spoiling it). Nothing else seems to stick out as a weakness or strength. The movie was fine for what it was: an action-packed, blow everything and everybody up type of movie. It wasn’t too intellectual and it was easy to follow. And as far as I could tell, there were no gaping holes in the logic of it.
Overall, I’ll give it three and a half stars.
The latest animation to hit the big screen is “The Croods” starring Nicolas Cage as the voice of Grug and Emma Stone as the voice of his daughter, Eep. The Croods are a family of cave-people. There are actually six in the whole family, but the main characters are Grug, Eep, and a young man named Guy (voice by Ryan Reynolds).
Grug is the father in the family, and he’s a bit paranoid. His mantra is “never forget to be afraid” or “Never be not afraid” or something like that. He has the entire family living in a cave from which they exit only to find food. They live together, sleep together, and never give in to such terrible things as curiousity or intrigue. Then, one night, Eep sneaks out of the cave because she spies a light. She encounters Guy, a young man who has mastered the use of fire (hence, the light). He tells her that the world is ending, that fire, earthquakes, and destruction are heading their way. Shortly afterward, his prediction comes true, and the Croods’ cave is destroyed. So, together with Guy, the family must brave the frontier and go in search of safety before the changing landscape swallows them. Along the way, there is a raging conflict between Grug and Eep revolving around Guy. He’s Eep’s love interest, if you haven’t figured that out yet. But I won’t give you any more details about that; I’ll let you see the movie yourself.
Strengths: there were some good parts. I did laugh out loud once or twice. And it’s a typical animated film: Most of the humor is clean and child safe. But only most. Through much of the movie, Grug has a death wish for his mother-in-law. I suppose it is intended as black humor, but I found it highly inappropriate for a kiddie-movie. Also, it follows the same tired pattern that I see being replicated in all kids’ movies these days. Repressive father is being too protective of his teenage daughter; they fight, have falling out; father admits he was wrong, and they make up. You know, I would like to see a movie where just once the parent was actually the one in the right. I get tired of this propensity Hollywood/Disney/Whoever has for denigrating parents. They aren’t complete idiots, you know. Maybe a movie that emphasized that, is in order.
Overall, I’ll give this film three and a half out of five stars.