White House Down (2013)

White House DownRelease Date: June 28, 2013. Director: Roland Emmerich. Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Runtime: 131 min.

Apparently infiltrating the White House is so easy, everyone’s doing it! (And they just finished re-building it, too!) All you have to do is rally up a bunch of people who are angry at the government, spend a day planning, synchronize your watches, and go to town. But be careful, there’s going to be a highly-decorated police officer of some kind standing in your way.

John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a Capitol police officer on tour of the White House with his daughter Emily (Joey King). He is also interviewing for a spot on the Secret Service, protecting President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). On that very day, because the President issued an international Peace Treaty, a paramilitary group invades the White House; now John must save his daughter, the President, and the country.

Whether it be Channing Tatum vs. a 25-person paramilitary group or Gerard Butler vs. North Korea’s entire 300 person army, both action guys are forces to be reckoned with. “Olympus Has Fallen” had to face comparisons to “Die Hard” back in March, so compared to this, it is living on easy street. Now, this has to face comparisons to both “Die Hard” and “Olympus.” Will it stand strong through all of it? Probably not.

“White House Down” is the better movie in some ways – but “Olympus” has the benefit of being released first. The former is superior to the latter in the CGI-effects department, the higher-profile director, and the cast. Even against the likes of Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart and Melissa Leo; once you have Tatum, Foxx and Maggie Gyllenhaal and then add the extra oomph of James Woods, Richard Jenkins and Jason Clarke; there’s no competition. But “Olympus” wins in many other aspects.

“Olympus” embraces its over-the-top brutality and the insane premise of a terrorist group taking down the most heavily protected house on Earth in a matter of minutes. That movie is a lot of fun. This is only mildly fun. It has fun with the premise, but its aspirations of becoming a great buddy action comedy feel forced. This feels too serious at times, which doesn’t work to the film’s benefit with so many frustrating “Okay, that’ll never happen!” moments. Granted, this premise will never happen – but if it does ever happen, we should all hope that the actual John McClane is taking a tour of the White House that day.

The antagonists’ motives are explained well for the most part. Cale’s motivations to stay at the White House to save his daughter are evident as well, even if those motivations are cookie-cutter. But that isn’t bad for this type of movie, because audiences are there for the action. There just isn’t enough of it.

The build-up takes too long, and this type of movie needs to have tension building that doesn’t take forever. There’s a lot of drama there, and we just want the action. And the bits of humour. Thankfully, there’s quite a lot of that, too. One of the members of the paramilitary group (the amusing hacker, Jimmi Simpson) has a lot of charisma, so he is the best antagonist in the movie – even better than the boss man (who I won’t reveal, even if (s)he’ll be blatantly obvious). There’s a prominent buddy comedy aspect, and even if the jokes aren’t so memorable, they provide big laughs at the time.

“White House Down” is familiar and forgettable, but it’s not a horrible way to pass 131 minutes. It just doesn’t bring enough to the table to be noteworthy. Since it’s so familiar, there are few surprises hiding away, and the antagonists are obvious from the get go. Apparently, if you’ve seen one Die Hard in the White House movie; you’ve seen them all.

Score: 58/100

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Brief-ish Recap of 2013’s Movies So Far

2013 has been a decent year for movies, and it’s improving in both quality, and in regards of box office earnings. And I think it can only get better from here, at least in terms of quality. So far, I’ve seen 36 movies that have been released in 2013, and I’ve missed quite a few as well. Here is my post for the best and worst of 2013 so far. There is a top 10 list, and a bottom five list, and I will post my “Most anticipated movies of Second Half of the Year List” sooner than later. Here’s what I thought of what 2013 has had to offer so far…

The Best of the Year So Far

This is the End“, 2013’s Best Movie So Far & 2013’s Best Surprise

First, the top 10. I have listed the title and the original score in brackets. I’ve decided not to include little blurbs from each review, because that just might become tedious to read with so many titles. If you want to read my thoughts, click on the link to my review. (Note: You might notice that some scores are lower than others, but higher on the list – but that’s because they’ve grown on me since I’ve seen them, and are better than other movies in terms of quality.)

1. This is the End (91), 2. Monsters University (90), 3. 42 (90), 4. The Place Beyond the Pines (88), 5. Fast & Furious 6 (90), 6. Mud (86), 7. Evil Dead (88), 8. Pain & Gain (83), 9. Spring Breakers (75), 10. The Croods (83).

Here’s 11-15: 11. Star Trek Into Darkness (83), 12. The Great Gatsby (82), 13. Warm Bodies (80), 14. Now You See Me (80), 15. Iron Man 3 (80).

Here’s the rest of the movies I’ve seen, ranked from best to worst (in blocks of five, so it’s easier on the eyes): The Last Stand (80); World War Z (75)The Heat (75) Mama (78)20. Oz the Great and Powerful (75).

Epic (74)The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (73); Identity Thief (72); Olympus Has Fallen (70); 25. Snitch (71).

Oblivion (67); Gangster Squad (63)The Purge (57); Man of Steel (50)30. Admission (56), Safe Haven (54).

2013's Worst Movie So Far

Scary Movie 5“, 2013’s Worst Movie So Far (But I don’t think there will be a bigger shitfest this year). 

Here’s the List of Shame, the Bottom Five of the year: After Earth (40)Peeples (38); The Hangover Part III (25)Movie 43 (30); 36. Scary Movie 5 (0).

Here was my Top 12 Most Anticipated Movies of the First Half of the Year: 1. Monsters University; 2. The Place Beyond the Pines; 3. Identity Thief 4. Oz the Great and Powerful; 5. Gangster Squad; 6. 42; 7. Now You See Me; 8. Fast & Furious 6; 9. Man of Steel; 10. Oblivion11. The Purge: 12. Mud.

5 of my 12 most anticipated movies made the Top 10, and 6 made my top 15. “Oz the Great and Powerful” was only slightly satisfying. “Identity Thief”, and “Oblivion” were mildly disappointing. “Gangster Squad” was quite disappointing because it could have potentially been an Oscar contender, but it ended up not knowing if it wanted to be serious or just silly. It was a lightly entertaining gangster movie, apparently much like “The Untouchables”. I’d put “The Hangover Part III” in my Top 15 Anticipated of the First Half, so that is the biggest disappointment of the year because it just wasn’t funny. The third biggest disappointment would be “The Purge”, and the second would be “Man of Steel”.

"The Hangover Part III", 2013's Biggest Disappointment So Far

The Hangover Part III“, 2013’s Biggest Disappointment So Far

The best surprise of the year definitely has to be “This is the End”, even if I was quite excited for it. I knew it was going to be good, but not that good, and especially not movie of the year worthy. Out of the films I wasn’t anticipating at all, “World War Z” was probably the nicest surprise.

These are the movies I missed, but will be checking out. I’ve only included the ones I could envision myself either popping into the DVD player, watching online, or going out to the theater and watching: A Good Day to Die Hard, Aftershock, Antiviral, Before Midnight, Berberian Sound Studio, The Bling Ring, Byzantium, The Call, Dark Skies, Dead Man Down, The East, Frances Ha, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Ginger & Rosa, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, The Host, The Iceman, The Internship, The Kings of Summer, The Lords of Salem, Maniac, Much Ado About Nothing, Quartet, Room 237, The Sapphires, Side Effects, Song for Marion, Stand Up Guys, Stoker, To the Wonder, Trance, Upside Down, Upstream Color, Violet & Daisy, Welcome to the Punch, White House Down.

And finally, here are some statistics: 

Rotten Tomatoes Audience Average Score: 72.55

My Average Score: 69.22

IMDb Average Score: 66.05

Rotten Tomatoes Critics Average Score: 56.55

So there you have it… What’s your favourite movie of the year so far, and your least favourite? I won’t put a poll because there are just too many titles, so let me know in the comments!

Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

Olympus Has FallenRelease Date: March 22, 2013Director: Antoine FuquaStars: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan FreemanRuntime: 120 min.

Die Hard is one of the very best action movies ever made. It’s well-made, has a very simplistic plot, and it’s one hell of a fun movie. It’s also an essential viewing for any guy. It has inspired many fun, action movies; most recently Olympus Has Fallen.

Mike Banning is a disgraced former Presidential guard who finds himself trapped inside the White House in the wake of a terrorist attack. He must use his knowledge to work with national security and rescue the President from his kidnappers.

As far as action movies inspired by Die Hard, this is memorable. Though, I’m not sure how vibrantly it will stand out in any of these cast members’ filmographies (especially Freeman’s and Eckhart’s). This is a decent movie for Antoine Fuqua, because his style fits the movie very well. Rick Yune is forgettable as the terrorist mastermind behind it all, mostly because he sports a look of anger the whole time. He’s ruthless and he looks like the smartest guy in the room, but aren’t all terrorists? Personality would have helped the guy. When he takes off his glasses, you know shit’s about to hit the fan.

Aaron Eckhart makes a fine President. Gerard Butler rocks his role, but he ain’t Bruce Willis. At least he doesn’t crack-wise when he’s about to snap someone’s neck, or have a catch phrase, like “Boo-ya, b*tch!” It’s not like this mirrors Die Hard in every possible way. Butler uses a lot of guns, but he is also great with hand-to-hand combat and his knife. There are many kills where he stabs the guy in the brain or the bottom of the neck. It’s great to see Butler as a complete bad-ass again. It’s he against many North Koreans, about three hundred, I’d say. So practically the entire North Korean army. (To any readers from North Korea: Relax, don’t be offended. It’s a joke. Hardy-har-har.)

This is an entertaining movie, albeit brutal. The only truly boring part of the movie is the first fifteen minutes or so, but it heats up fairly quickly. Also, some might not find the entertainment in a helicopter’s machine gun shooting at civilians on the streets of Washington. I didn’t dig that part so much, but this is usually awesome and there’s lots and lots of blood. It feels long, but a movie like this cannot be rushed. The poor visuals make it look like a video game, because, really, it’s a movie that would make a very fun video game. This is Die Hard meets The Raid: Redemption.

It’s pretty awesome. If you want a movie with great characterization, plot development, a generally original plot, and memorable jokes, look elsewhere. If you seek a movie that has a simple and ridiculous (yet awesome) plot, brainless action, clever (but forgettable) one-liners, a lot of blood, an enormous body count, tons of bullets, and a lot of F-bombs and real bombs; then this shouldn’t disappoint.

Score70/100

May 3-5 Box Office Results

Iron Man 3 now has the second highest opening weekend of all-time, with a $174.1 million opening. Bring on the summer season!

Title: Result Prediction Difference (Over/Under)
1. Iron Man 3: $174,144,585 $166.016M $8, 128, 585 under
2. Pain and Gain: $7,511,315 — $9, 595, 900 — $2, 084, 585 over
3. 42: $6,055,327 — $6, 219, 950 — $164, 623 over
4. Oblivion: $5,642,335 — $8, 259, 800 — $2, 617, 465 over
5. The Croods: $4,202,639 — $4, 670, 500 — $467, 861 over
6. The Big Wedding: $3,881,857 — $4, 360, 210 — $478, 353 over
7. Mud: $2,160,319 — $2.3M — $139, 681 over
9. Scary Movie 5: $1,441,360 — $1, 770, 305 — $328, 945 over
11. G.I. Joe: Retaliation: $1,270,094 $2.2M $929, 906 over
12. Olympus Has Fallen: $1,194,650 $1.74M  $545, 350 over

Total difference for one new release: $8, 128, 585
Total difference for nine (9) holdovers: $7, 756, 769

May 3-5 Box Office Predictions: ‘Iron Man 3’

Iron Man 3Movies similar to Iron Man 3 open to an average $87.72 million. The first Iron Man opened to $98.62 million while the second opened to $128.12 million. The Marvel franchise has an established fan base, and this movie’s going to have one of the best opening weekends ever. The popularity of The Avengers has helped gain the Iron Man movies more fans, and this is the first Avenger-member super hero movie since the release of The Avengers, this same weekend last year. While this doesn’t stand much of a chance at matching The Avengers‘ record-shattering $207, 438, 708 opening, nor am I imagining it topping the number two opening weekend record of $169, 189, 427 held down by the eighth Harry Potter movie. Though, because of the franchise’s increased fan base thanks to The Avengers, and the fact that the excellent Ben Kingsley might attract older audiences, I can really visualize this topping The Dark Knight Rises‘ $160, 887, 295 (the third opening weekend all-time record) and finishing the weekend with $166, 016, 000.

Here’s how I see the top 10:

1. Iron Man 3: $166, 016, 000
2. Pain & Gain: $9, 595, 900
3. Oblivion: $8, 259, 800
4. 42: $6, 219, 950
5. The Croods: $4, 670, 500
6. The Big Wedding: $4, 360, 210
7. Mud: $2, 300, 000
8. G.I. Joe: Retaliation: $2, 200, 000
9. Scary Movie 51, 770, 305
10. Olympus Has Fallen: $1, 740, 000

‘Oblivion’ Starts off Blockbuster Season with $37M

The following article is courtesy of Joe over at Two Dude Review. Also, I’m a part of a box office game with him and a few others (Nick of Cinematic Katzenjammer, Shane of FilmRehab, and Jason and Trevor, both of Movie Mavericks). It’s pretty fun, silly me for waiting until now to mention it. Trevor of Movie Mavericks has also started a user-friendly website called Box Office Ace where anyone can predict the box office. If you’re interested in predicting, just register and test your luck, it’s free and fun! 

Unlike last weekend, where the box office was off just a slight bit from the same weekend last year, this past weekend’s difference was significant. 2013′s weekend #16 was off by 18.1% compared to 2012, bringing the current year’s deficit back up to 11.3%. With some big names attached to Pain and Gain and Big Wedding this coming weekend offers a little bit of opportunity for ground to be made up, thanks in part to last year’s weak offerings for the same weekend. Unfortunately, after this weekend it’s going to take a lot of box office hits to match-up with the box office greatness that was The Avengers.

Opening at more than $37 million, Oblivion gave Tom Cruise his biggest opening weekend since Mission: Impossible III. The opening weekend figure may not seem all that impressive, when you take its $120 million budget into consideration. However, once you factor in Oblivion‘s $112 million haul overseas already, the film is a definite hit. Its ‘B-’ Cinemascore tells us that film wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t all that buzz worthy and Rotten Tomatoes pretty much echoes that sentiment with critic scoring the film 57% fresh and 68% of audience liking the film. IMDB’s 7.2 rating, however, indicates there is an audience for the film.

To go to any of my reviews, just click the link.

Title: Result — Prediction — Difference (Over/Under)
1. Oblivion: $37,054,485 — $38, 900, 000 ­– $1, 845, 515 over
2. 42: $17,721,410 — $20, 850, 000 — $3, 128, 590 over
3. The Croods: $9,235,295 — $8, 920, 000 — $315, 295 under
4. Scary Movie 5: $6,150,584 — $5, 420, 000 — $730, 584 under
5. G.I. Joe: Retaliation: $5,763,891 — $6M — $236, 109 over
6. The Place Beyond the Pines: $4,917,545 — $6.25M– $1, 332, 455 over
7. Olympus Has Fallen: $4,475,543 — $4.9M — $424, 457 over
8. Evil Dead (2013)$4,112,001 — $4, 500, 000 — $387, 999 over
9. Jurassic Park 3D: $4,054,285 — $5, 000, 000 — $945, 715 over
10. Oz The Great and Powerful: $3,004,644 — $2.8M — $204, 644 over

Total difference for one (1) new release: $1, 845, 515

Total difference for nine (9) holdovers: $7, 705, 848

March 22-24 Box Office Predictions: ‘The Croods’, ‘Olympus Has Fallen’, ‘Admission’, ‘Spring Breakers’

The new releases

Admission

   Admission

The Croods

The Croods

Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen

 

Spring Breakers

Spring Breakers

The box office is getting some of its edge back with some solid earnings as of late (if you don’t count that Burt Wonderstone bomb). This weekend we’re seeing four new releases: the new Tina Fey/Paul Rudd comedy, Admission; the animated prehistoric flick, DreamWorks’ The Croods; a terrorist attack action/thriller, Olympus Has Fallen; and a sexy crime drama, Spring Breakers.

The Croods will be one of the movies to stop Oz from three-peating this weekend. It looks really great and adventurous and that cute-monkey primate thing from the trailers is what makes me want to spend $14 on this, and it does not look half-bad. The plot follows the very first prehistoric family as they go on a road trip to an uncharted and a fantastical world. So, it’s a road trip comedy set in prehistoric times? That’s a fine premise. The DreamWorks studio has previously given us audiences solid animated features such as the Shrek franchise, How to Train Your Dragon and Kung Fu Panda. Generally, the animation studio’s films are usually of quality. The voice cast for this film is also rather good: Nicolas Cage sounds like himself, Emma Stone is lending her sultry voice to the feature, and Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman and Clark Duke also lend their voices. I think this will be the second highest opening of the weekend of the year so far (above Identity Thief‘s $34.5 million, but behind Oz‘s $79.1 million). The animation does look beautiful, and this will do well at the box office because it is just the third feature of the year that is being targeted at family audiences,  and only the second animated feature after Escape from Planet Earth. I also think it will perform well because it’s set in prehistoric times, and we’ll probably see types of dinosaurs and other cool creatures, so this might satisfy dinosaur lovers before Jurassic Park 3D comes out April 5. Films similar to this open to an average $49.4 million, but I think this will come a few million shy of that number, but what do I know… I’m just a guy trying to predict the box office. Realistically, I think this will open between Rio‘s $39.2 or Shrek‘s $42.3 million to Kung Fu Panda 2‘s $47.6 million. DreamWorks’ last project was Rise of the Guardians which bombed by opening to $23.7 million, but I can’t see this bombing, at least I hope it won’t… My prediction for this is a solid $45 million.

Olympus Has Fallen might also earn more many than Oz this weekend, but the battle for second place will between this and that. The action films this year have been bombs (The Last Stand, Parker), but this won’t follow suit, thankfully. It won’t mostly because it looks really good and there’s been a lack of a good terrorist attack flick for a while now, the last great one was Live Free or Die Hard. The plot follows a disgraced former Presidential guard Mike Banning who finds himself trapped inside the White House in the wake of a terrorist attack; using his inside knowledge, Banning works with national security to rescue the President from his kidnappers. It sounds incredibly action-packed and loads of fun, and with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua at the helm, this could be an impressive movie. The fine cast, the director, and the plot and action sequences will attract audiences. It also helps that FilmDistrict launched one big marketing campaign for this, and this project has been its main focus. Because of this focus, Dead Man Down was neglected in a way, so this is a gamble I sincerely hope pays off for the distributor, and I think it will. Antoine Fuqua’s filmography has an average opening of $13.7 million; Butler, an average opening of $18.62; Aaron Eckhart, an average opening of $23 million (which this will make close to that number); Morgan Freeman, an average opening of $26.8. Finally, similar films to this open at an average of $23 million, though I think this will earn a little less than A Good Day to Die Hard‘s $24.8 million. My prediction for this is $23.5 million.

Admission looks like a charming little Tina Fey/Paul Rudd comedy, but the trailer only produces a few laughs. The IMDb plot is: A Princeton admissions officer who is up for a major promotion, takes a professional risk after she meets a college-bound alternative school kid who just might be the son she gave up years ago in a secret adoption. It looks like a solid yet forgettable film, fairly feel-good, but it doesn’t look particularly hilarious. I’ll see the movie, but I only wish Fey had a hand in writing, because she is very funny (see: Mean Girls and TV’s 30 Rock). Similar movies earn an average of $13.3 on opening weekend, but I think this will come closer to The Switch‘s $8.4, and possibly better than Our Idiot Brother‘s $7 million. The director, Paul Weitz’s, biggest titles are About A Boy and American Pie, the former opened to $8.5, and the latter opened to $18.7 million. In Fey’s first movie role since 2010’s Megamind (2010’s Date Night for live-action) this might be lucky to get half of her $20.6 average opening weekend. Paul Rudd has an average opening of $13.9, but I’m convinced for whatever reason this won’t make it to double digits, but if it does, the highest I think it’ll go would have to be one of his early films, Clueless‘s $10.6 million opening. My psychic powers are tingling and they’re telling me this will only earn $8.5 million this weekend.

Spring Breakers earned a seriously excellent $263, 002 at just three theaters last weekend (a $87, 667 per theater average, the 23rd all-time best), so it’s no surprise that the studio took advantage and decided to expand to 1104 theaters. Writer/director Harmony Korine seems that he’ll bring his art-house style to the feature (he directed and wrote Gummo, and wrote Kids) and make it unique for mainstream audiences, and he’s also casting his wife, Rachel Korine, the least well-known of the bikini babes. The other babes include former-Disney stars Selena Gomez (TV’s Wizards of Waverly Place, Monte Carlo) and Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical), and also TV’s Pretty Little Liars star Ashley Benson. The plot follows four college girls who land in jail after robbing a restaurant in order to fund their spring break vacation, and they find themselves bailed out by a drug and arms dealer who wants them to do some dirty work. The only thing better than these gals in bikinis would be them in nothing at all. James Franco looks like he’s in an awesome role, and it looks like he’ll immerse himself in it, more than he apparently did for his character in Oz The Great and Powerful (which I still have to see). My prediction is $6.5 million for its wide opening. You may think I’m going too high with my prediction, but since it earned $87, 667 at just three theaters, I think it will do fairly well at 1104 theaters.

Here’s how I see the top 10:

TitlePrediction/ Possible percentage drop

1. The Croods: $45, 000, 000
2. Olympus Has Fallen: $23, 500, 000
3. Oz The Great and Powerful: $22, 000, 000/-46.6%
4. The Call: $10, 000, 000-41.6%
5. Admission: $8, 500, 000
6. Spring Breakers: $6, 500, 000
7. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone: $5, 500, 000/-46.0%
8. Jack the Giant Slayer: $4, 000, 000/-36.6%
9. Identity Thief: $3, 000, 000/32.1%
10. Snitch: $2, 300, 000/34.3 %

There you have it, what do you think of my predictions? What will you see this weekend? Was the article too long (LOL)? Leave me some comments below!