Posted by Joan Alperin-Schwartz
As I was watching this film, I kept thinking about 'Die Hard'.
Even though 'Die Hard' was set in a hotel and 'Olympus Has Fallen' is set in the White House, the two films have a great deal in common...Terrorists take hostages...They make outrageous demands and only one man can stop them.
In the former, we have Bruce Willis as our hero...the man who can do what no other human on earth can do...In 'Olympus Has Fallen' directed by Antoine Fuqua ('Training Day') we have Gerard Butler or Bruce Willis light.
Of course that's just my opinion...I just don't find Butler's acting all that interesting...Although he was fun to watch in the film '300' but I think that had more to do with his body than his acting ability.
In 'Olympus Has Fallen' Butler plays Mike Banning, a former presidential Secret Service agent. Mike had guarded the President and his son until an incident made him persona non gratia at the White House.
He now has a boring job at the Treasury Department and longs to return to the Presidential detail. He's about to get his wish.
A group of Northern Korean extremists, led by super evil, Kang (Rick Hune) takes over the White House aka Olympus and captures President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his staff.
As an intense battle rages on the White House lawn, Banning must find his way into the besieged building to rescue the President, save Asher's young son...and stop these crazy Koreans from causing WW3.
Sounds like a fun ride huh? Yes and no...On the plus side, the premise is very interesting and makes you think...Is it possible for a small group of terriorists to take over the White House? According to director Fuqua, it is.
The film is very well researched and the replica of the White House is perfect...
Unfortunately after awhile, the film becomes one big shooting fest...Bodies start piling up, while Speaker of the House, now Acting President, Allan Trumball (Morgan Freeman), Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs (Angela Bassett) and General Edward Clegg (Robert Forster) sit around yelling at each other, trying to decide what to do about this little problem.
But they need not worry, because super hero extraordinaire, is about to do what hundreds of police, military, air force pilots, could not do...TAKE THESE BAD GUYS DOWN.
And that's the story folks...Familiar? Definitely...Exciting? Some of the time...Predicitable...100 percent.
The supporting cast including Melissa Leo as Defense Secretary Ruth McMillan is fine, and she can really take a punch.
Ashley Judd makes a brief appearance as the President's wife, Radha Mitchell is Butler's better half, Cole Hauser and Dylan McDermott are SS agents.
I gave 'Olympus Has Fallen' which opens Friday, March 22nd, 2012 a very generous 3 bagels out of 5. John wasn't as generous.
Check out our video for more of our thoughts and let us know what you think.
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March 14, 2013 | 10:47 am
Posted by Joan Alperin-Schwartz
I love magic. When I watch a good magician, I feel the wonderment of a five year old.
Too bad I didn't feel that way while watching 'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone', directed by Don Scardino and written by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley ('Horrible Bosses').
Unfortunately, the story is one you've seen many times before...Superstar is an egomaniac. Treats everyone like dirt. Then overnight, he loses everything...His best friend/partner, his money, his career and hits bottom. It's here that he develops humility and learns what's really important in life.
The superstar in this movie is Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) magician/performer extraordinaire. His magic partner is his childhood BFF, Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi). The pair have been headliners at Bally's Las Vegas for the last ten years...But the casino owner, Doug Munny (James Gandolfini) thinks their act has grown stale and wants them to come up with something new.
That's not their only problem. There's a new magician in town and he's getting a great deal of attention. His name is Steve Gray aka The Brain Rapist (Jim Carrey). Gray has a successful cable show and his in your face, gritty, violent, physical feats appeals to the younger crowd.
Carrey, by the way, is the best thing in the film.
When Wonderstone and Marvelton perform a stunt to prove they still have what it takes to be Number 1, it goes horribly wrong and it's the beginning of the end for Burt.
First, Marvelton, tired of being abused by Wonderstone, leaves the act. Burt tries to make it on his own, but fails miserably.
Not only does Wonderstone gets fired but he discovers that he's broke. Yep our guy has hit bottom and now, he has no choice but to start over.
Lucky for Burt, he has Alan Arkin on his side. Arkin plays Rance Holloway, a quintessential 1960's magician, who's is the reason Wonderstone fell in love with magic as a young boy.
Oh, and I musn't forget the girl....There's always a girl and in this movie, her name is Jane (Oliva Wilde) and she's Wonderstone's assistant/love interest/ aspiring magician.
To be fair, I did laugh, but not enough for me to say this is a 'must-see' comedy... Although the ending is quite clever and good for several loud chuckles.
As for Steve Carell, I found his performance too much of a charicature...I did enjoy Buscemi and Alan Arkin a lot as well as Jay Mohr as Rick the Implausible.
I gave 'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone', which opens Friday March 15, 2012, 2 1/2 bagels out of 5. Check out our video for John's magic trick and his bagel rating.
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March 7, 2013 | 4:43 pm
Posted by Joan Alperin-Schwartz
'We're off to see the Wizard...The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz'...except...
In Sam Raimi's 'Oz The Great And Powerful' he's not exactly wonderful or a wizard.
In fact, he' Oscar Diggs (James Franco) a 3rd rate circus magician/con artist, who escapes from Kansas in a hot air balloon, only to land in the beautiful, magical Land of Oz.
There, Oscar meets the beautiful witch Theodora (Mila Kunis) and her older sister, Evanora, (Rachel Weisz) who rules over the Emerald City.
When the sisters mistake Oscar for the wizard, who the prophecies foretold, would one day come and save Oz, he thinks he's struck gold.
Well actually he has. Seems Oz is filled with gold...a lot of gold, enough to make Oscar a billionaire several times over.
Of course nothing is simple for our con man...It doesn't take long for the sisters to become suspicious of him.
Now, in order to to claim the riches of Oz, Oscar must figure out how to save the inhabitants from the dark forces waiting to take hold of them and their beloved city.
Lucky for him, Oscar has the help of Glinda, aka The Good Witch (Michelle Williams) who winds up showing him just what kind of man he really is.
'Oz The Great And Powerful' written by Mitchell Kapner,and David Lindsay-Abaire, imagines the origins of the beloved wizard character first brought to life in author L. Frank Baum's book 'The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz.
Shot in 3d, the film also introduces new characters as well, including...an adorable porcelain child called China Girl (voice by Joey King) and Finley (voice by Zach Braf ) a winged monkey who accompanies Oscar on his journey through Oz; serving as his sounding board and conscience.
I really enjoyed 'Oz The Great And Powerful' which opens in theatres Friday March 8, 2012 and for that reason gave it 4 bagels out of 5. I thought it was fun and a wonderful family picture.
Check out our video to for John's thoughts and his bagel score. Also love to know whom you agree with.
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