Saturday, March 23, 2013

Olympus Has Fallen: Or, What Die Hard 5 SHOULD'VE Been

Here's the problem with having a movie review blog.  I'm putting my opinions on the web for you to be able to judge what you should and should not see.  If I enjoy a movie that I know most people will not, it's difficult for me to put aside my own preferences and actually judge a movie based on how bad it is or isn't.  So, before I get into how I personally felt about Olympus Has Fallen, let me take a moment to tell you that this movie is DUMB.  It lacks more brain cells than Amanda Bynes' vagina.  When someone brought up the idea of common sense, the others responsible for the finished product just laughed and wiped the tears from their eyes.  The coherence level is lower than a five-year-old mouth attacking a bucket of Elmer's paste.  It's dumb.  So, for those of you looking for a clever, taut, emotionally challenging, cleverly written, perfectly acted, tongue-and-cheek, West Wing-ish, type of action thriller... you ought look elsewhere.  Right now.  Go.

Now, for those willing to shut off your brains entirely and suspend all disbelief whatsoever and purposefully ignore the plethora of plot holes that arrive every five minutes or so... you may actually enjoy this flick.  It's legitimately the epitome of a popcorn flick.  It's mindless shooting and expletives without so much as any extra brain power used to piece together a cohesive plot.  But, more importantly, it's damn entertaining.  Never before on screen have I seen so many innocent people gunned down at once.  There's a good twenty minutes when the terrorists are making their way into the White House and innocent bystanders are just blasted up and down the street (you never actually realize how many people would have to die for someone to take over the White House until now).  It's a legitimate call-back to the genre of action that defined action movies today: 90s action.

Olympus Has Fallen tells the story of Mike (Gerard Butler), a disgraced Secret Service Agent, sneaking around the White House attempting to rescue the President (Aaron Eckhart) after it has been taken over by Korean terrorists.  With the President out of commission and the Vice President's head separated from his body, the Speaker of the House (Morgan Freeman) becomes acting Prez.  And since we all know what a badass Morgan Freeman is at being President from Deep Impact, it should come as no surprise that he's just as awesome here.  The film is, essentially, Die Hard in the White House only John McClane is missing in action.  But, considering the latest Die Hard film was the biggest waste of film in the history of the franchise, it might actually be unfair to compare the two.  It still follows the same DH formula: guy with emotional and family problems, finds himself the only man to save the lives of others taken hostage, set entirely in a single building, and with a badass one-on-one confrontation at the end.  They call it formula because it's been done before, but hey, if something has proven to work, why not try it again... in the White House?

Normally, after seeing a movie that I thought was entertaining, I would go on and talk about all the things that I really enjoyed about the film, but since I'm trying to convince you to see this movie, it'd be remiss of me to not tell you what to expect from the feature.  First of all, some of the acting, even from those who have proven themselves in the past to be stellar, is a little weaker here.  Everyone seems to know what kind of movie they're in and play it exactly that way.  The CGI in the film is horrible.  Granted, there isn't a ton of it because it doesn't call for a lot of computer effects, but during the initial takeover, there is a significant amount and it looks like the cut scenes in between video game levels.  The logic and reason behind a lot of character motivations and actions seem to come and go as they're needed for the moment and don't really have any connection to the story arc.  The "fake-out" towards the ending of the film is all kinds of ridiculously stupid.  If you're only on the fence about America being the single greatest country in the entire world, don't worry, they will do anything in their power to convince you that America is nothing short of magnificent.  And most of the one-liners WILL, indeed, make you laugh, but not because they're insanely clever.

Now... if you think you can handle all of that... then I will tell you this.  It's a fun movie.  Gerard Butler is no John McClane, but apparently neither is Bruce Willis anymore, so he does a fine job as McClane's contemporary replacement.  He's fun to watch, and he kicks some serious ass.  The death toll in this movie is outrageous!  Most of the people you see on screen will, one way or another, be killed.  Watching Mike sleuth about the big house and take out terrorists one by one is also quite fun, but you have to essentially stare at the screen wide eyed, no thoughts coursing through your brain, a little drool running down into your popcorn bag and you'll be able to enjoy the film.  Every time I noticed a plot hole, I'd just throw it out of my head and go back to mindlessly enjoying a great homage to 90s action.  If every action movie from now on was more like Olympus Has Fallen and less like A Good Day To Die Hard, I'd be okay with that... for awhile.


Friday, March 22, 2013

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: AbracaDumb!

Twelve-year-old Ryan here.  Someone has asked me who my favorite actor is and I don't even have to think about it.  I know right away.  I don't even have to look over to my vastly growing movie collection and see my collection of his films resting right on top of the rest.  I don't have to see each VHS box arranged alphabetically ranging from his most famous films to those no one knows about that I had to spend a pretty penny for at Virgin Records.  No, I can confidently say my favorite actor is Jim Carrey.  Why, you ask?  Because the man is a genius.  He can show his wild and crazy side as evident in Ace Ventura, The Mask, and my personal favorite, Liar Liar.  He can also show his darker side as shown in The Cable Guy and Man on the Moon.  But, above all, the guy can show his acting chops as we've seen in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (anachronism aside, I still know it's great).  He's my all-time favorite actor, and I know he'll always be.

2013 Ryan back in.  Boy, it's been awhile since I've seen a movie I really like with Jim Carrey in it.  Yes Man was underwhelming and while Mr. Popper's Penguins was cute... it wasn't really for me.  I've been waiting for that comeback film for me to fall in love with him again, because I gotta say my love has faded significantly.  What's this? A new trailer for a film with a powerhouse comedy cast?  Steve Carrell, Steve Buscemi, Alan Arkin, AND JIM CARREY?!?!?!?! Too good to be true?  It has to be.  There wasn't this good of a comedy line-up back when I was twelve!  It has to, obviously, be that diamond in the rough; that one film to bring Carrey back from the stone age of comedy; that perfect film with the perfect blend of comedy and heart; that film that reminds us why Jim Carrey was the greatest of all time and how Steve Carrell is best having left The Office; it just has to be!  Right?

God, I wanted love The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.  I wanted it to be everything I dreamed of and more.  Ever since I happened upon it on IMDB, I wanted it to be so much more.  Then, when I saw the trailer and it didn't even move me to chuckle, deep down I wished that the people responsible for cutting the trailer did their best to hide the funniest parts (everything else) so that nothing was spoiled and everyone would fall in love with it.  Then, when I finally watched the film... I wanted to love it so much.  I wanted each tired and unfunny joke to be something it wasn't.  But, it wasn't.  It wasn't at all.  And I can't figure out why.

For those who aren't privy to the film, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, follows to tale of Burt (Steve Carrell) and Anton (Steve Buscemi), two magician partners who've performed the same tired magical acts for years.  They've grown apart and their tricks have failed to impress as of late.  In comes Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) a, sort of, Criss Angel of a "magician" who really has no tricks at all, but more like stunts that are really strange and, I suppose, impressive.  His new age brand of magic pushes Burt out of the spotlight and out of a job.  Though, at this point into the film, no one really gives a shit.  Burt is an asshole.  Anton is a puss.  And Steve is a prick.  One of these guys will have to learn a lesson sooner or later, and if the title of the film is any indication of who it will be, I'll give you one guess.

The problem with the film isn't its plot, it's the script.  There's nothing new about Burt Wonderstone, nothing at all.  It's jokes are as stale as a piece of toast with none of the fixings.  Carell should've been the Peanut Butter and Carrey the jelly, but unfortunately, someone forgot to go to the store.  Everything about this film feels recycled.  There's even a moment where Buscemi and Carrell are holding onto a platform high above the ground, Carrell slips and grabs hold of Buscemi's pants which rip exposing his boxer shorts.  This is 2013 classic comedy here, folks.  Save for one scene with Carrey, which truly had me laughing till I cried, there is nothing funny or redeemable about this film.

It's just perplexing to figure out how all of these talented actors agreed to do such a trite and mundane film.  How did Steve Carrell agree when we know he's capable of higher comedy (Crazy Stupid Love, Little Miss Sunshine)?  How did Steve Buscemi agree when we know that he's one of the best character actors of our time (Fargo, Boardwalk Empire)?  How did they rope in Alan Arkin-- a man who can take any script and make it better just with his presence (Argo, Little Miss Sunshine)?  But, Jim.  Oh, Jim.  I understand the role of the douchy villain was probably more fun than being clinically depressed, doing children's movies, and breaking up with Jenny McCarthy, but, man, I gotta be honest... if Kick Ass 2 doesn't become your John-Travolta-Pulp-Fiction-Ultimate-Moviestar-Comeback role... I'm going to have to forget you for good.

For a movie that's supposed to be very magical, it is devoid of any such magic.  It's soul crushing because of everything it should have been and everything it turned out to be.  I'll tell you this much, however, if it had been made in 1991... the laughs would've been dead on.  That's how tired this movie is.  It's humor should have a nice room at Shady Acres with a bedpan resting beside it.