“Olympus Has Fallen”: “Training Day” director Antoine Fuqua helms this actioner about a disgraced secret service agent (Gerard Butler) who has to “Die Hard” his out of the White House after a North Korean terrorist (Rick Yune) seizes it. While this film has a laughable derivative premise, if a few key elements were different this might have a good film. If the lead were filled by someone who could credibly absorb a lot of fantastic damage, The Rock or Jason Statham for example, or if it was directed by someone with the visually imagination to make something as ridiculous as the White House under siege workable, say one of Luc Besson’s protégés, this film might have been dumb fun.
As it is, “Olympus” has a director who is better suited for gritty crime drams and he hasn’t even made a good one of those in a decade. And Butler, who is certainly better in action movies than in all those insipid romantic comedies he somehow keeps getting cast in, is a pretty poor action lead. He’s not particularly funny and he doesn’t convey suffering well, which is the most important quality any action lead needs to have. If the lead is boring and the direction unimaginative, no amount of high-priced CGI is going to make “Olympus” watchable. Also starring Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, and Morgan Freeman.
Fun fact: According to IMDB: “It was so hot in Louisiana during the filming of the White House tourist scenes that the Humane Society representative insisted that the German Shepherds being used as K-9 watch dogs be kept in an air-conditioned van between shoots.” So it must have been especially fun to have been an extra on this movie.
“The Croods”: The latest film from DreamWorks Animation, which follows a prehistoric family as they journey out of the cave into the world for the first time. If you’re the parent of a young child or a young adult who still finds DreamWork’s hero’s quest and funny faces style amusing or if you’re an adult who find the modern cinematic landscape to be so full of foul language, gratuitous sex and copious violence that tame romantic comedies and children’s films are the only kind of movie your willing to attend, soups on. If not, go see anything else. You’re a grown up and it’s embarrassing that you still go to see movies like this because of “how cool they look” or because “they’re actually a lot of fun.” Featuring the voices of Nicholas Cage, Ryan Reynolds, and Emma Stone.
Fun fact: British comedy legend John Cleese has a “story by” credit on the film. Not that that gives you permission to lose your car keys in the ball pit or anything.
“Admission”: Tina Fey plays a Princeton admissions officer who has her world turned upside when her goofy old college buddy (Paul Rudd) tries to convince her that a promising but unqualified young man deserves a place in the Ivy League, a young man who might be the son she gave up for adoption years before. While I think that Fey should be our next President, nothing about this comedy looks promising. The plot sounds too heartwarming and sentimental to be terribly funny and though Rudd regularly makes even Judd Apatow’s scripts seem hilarious, he’s a pretty dull romantic lead. And the cherry on the disappointment sundae is that the film is directed by Chris Weitz, another filmmaker who hasn’t made a good film in almost ten years. Now that “30 Rock” is over, hopefully Fey will have the opportunity to write and direct a film that won’t be the cinematic equivalent of a baloney sandwich. Also starring Michael Sheen, Lily Tomlin, and Wallace Shawn.
Fun fact: The film is based on a novel of the same name by Jean Hanff Korelitz.
Also opening in wide release, Harmony Korine’s insane looking youth in revolt film “Spring Breakers.” The movie stars Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine and Selena Gomez as four college girls who knock over a dinner to finance their trip to South Beach only to get in real trouble after hooking up with a disgusting wannabe gangster called Alien (James Franco). If the early reviews are any indication, Korine made the right decision in abandoning his arty experimentation for a tried and true girls-with- guns exploitation flick. I would have never believed that a movie that featured a Britney Spears sing a long and a ski mask and bikini clad armed robbery would be one of the best movies of the year, but 2013 is just that kind of year.
And playing exclusively at Cedar Lee Theatre is acclaimed South Korean director Park Chan-wook’s (“Oldboy”) English language debut “Stoker.” In the film, Mia Wasikowska plays a high schooler whose life is throw into disarray after her father dies and her mysterious and murderous Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) comes to live with her and her deranged mother (Nicole Kidman). Park is a master of the form, creating sumptuous and ornate films that mesmerize with Vivaldian virtuosity. The trailer for “Stoker” is better than most films released in 2013 so I can’t the film will be anything other than dazzling. Also starring, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver and Lucas Til.
Mario McKellop has written about film on Examiner for the last three years and can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org