The Valdosta Daily Times
“Olympus Has Fallen” (Action/Thriller: 2 hours)
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Rick Yune and Morgan Freeman
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Rated: R (Extreme violence and profanity)
Movie Review: Mike Banning (Butler) is a somewhat disgraced Secret Service agent. After North Korean terrorists storm and capture the White House, Banning, the lone surviving guard in White House, must rescue President Benjamin Asher (Eckhart), who is one of hostages of the North Korean terrorists led by Kang (Yune).
The White House falls, yet “Olympus” remains on a mountaintop as an action film.
This action movie is more action than a sound political piece. It misses the mark by not allowing the film to delve into the political realm for a more realistic rendering. Instead, this is a thrilling action flick. That, it achieves. It very nicely becomes riveting.
“Olympus” is “Die Hard” in the White House. In this aspect, it is nothing new, although Butler is sound as this film’s lead. This movie delves into some typical masculine clichés, but they are minor enough that they do not interfere with good entertainment.
Grade: B- (It rises to the occasion.)
“The Croods” (Animated/Adventure: 1 hour, 38 minutes)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds
Directors: Kirk De Micco, Chris Sanders
Rated: PG (Some scary moments and violence)
Movie Review: This very entertaining animated film is “Avatar” meets “Ice Age” meets last year’s “Brave.” It features a prehistoric family. Grug (Cage) is the protective father of the family of six. He keeps his family safe by keeping them in a secure cave. His daughter, Eep (Stone), is an adventurer. She wants to leave the cave to explore. During one of her adventures, she encounters Guy (Reynolds), a sophisticated nomad. The Croods, who are definitely cave dwellers, see Guy as a threat initially, but Guy quickly comes to their rescue when the planet becomes volatile.
The computer animation is superb in this film. Viewers, if given the chance, should see this film. Its 3-D graphics are spectacular, and this film uses three-dimensional aspects exceptionally.
Even more, the story is potent. The characters easily make the audience care for their cause. Each player is necessary via sound storytelling. The voices featured are good also, especially Cage as Grug and Reynolds as Guy.
The adventure is engaging and very enjoyable. Members of any age should find this gratifying entertainment.
Grade: B (A good prehistoric bunch)
“Admission” (Comedy: 1 hour, 47 minutes)
Starring: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Nat Wolff and Lily Tomlin
Director: Paul Weitz
Rated: PG-13 (Strong language and thematic elements)
Movie Review: Portia Nathan (Fey) is one of several admissions officers at Princeton University. She is dedicated to her job. All is status quo until John Pressman (Rudd) introduces her to Jeremiah Balakian (Wolff). Moreover, Pressman tells Nathan that Balakian is her son who she secretly gave away nearly 18 years ago. Balakian is a gifted, eccentric student who is applying to Princeton University. Nathan feels she must make amends by aiding Balakian’s means to become a student at Princeton.
Fey and Rudd are at their best here. They are comical without going overboard. They play their parts earnestly. Wolff is agreeable as an odd teenager, and veteran actor Tomlin steals scenes. They are a part of this amiable story.
This screenplay is not typical. It plays like life with an unknown future. Moviegoers have become complacent with the formulaic manner in which photoplays exist. “Admission” breaks with the common notion that every screenplay has to end as people expect. This makes this film a worthy venture, one involving a little realism.
“Admission” has its less than stellar moments, but they are minimal. Paul Weitz (“About a Boy,” 2002) knows how to take a mild film and turn it into valuable entertainment. He turns “Admissions” into to something watchable and engaging, even if unmemorable.
Grade: B- (Admission accepted.)
“Spring Breakers” (Crime: 1 hour, 34 minutes)
Starring: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine and James Franco
Director: Harmony Korine
Rated: R (Thematic elements, sexuality, nudity, drug and alcohol usage, profanity and violence)
Movie Review: Director-writer Harmony Korine has been penning movies since he was 19. His first was “Kids” (Director Larry Clark, 1995). His movies depict the modern manner, in which youths party, entertain themselves and use illegal substances, such as “Gummo” (1997). “Spring Breakers” is his latest wayward attempt to show what happens on spring break in an artistic manner.
Four teenage college students, Candy (Hudgens), Faith (Gomez), Brit (Benson) and Cotty (Korine, wife of the director), travel to St. Petersburg, Fla. They travel there to have fun. They hunger for excitement. They find it and more: parties, liquor, drugs, police, sex, and perhaps pregnancy. They encounter multiple sins, including Alien (Franco), a major drug dealer.
James Franco’s arrival makes this film better. Conversely, his portrayal does little to aid a scatterbrained plot, which fails to convince. Motives for other characters’ actions appear missing. Franco’s character has more development than the four leading stars, the young women on a college break. The four women appear more like characters from “A Clockwork Orange” (Director Stanley Kubrick, 1971).
This film is very much an extension of a “Girls Gone Wild” video. Nudity is prevalent throughout. Drugs are rampant, and alcohol is everywhere. After watching this, audiences will feel they have had their spring break or will feel the need for prayer.
Again, the intention is clearly an artistic screenplay. It fails as much as it succeeds. If this is art, it is abstract. “Breakers’” direction is as if it was a product made during a major party.
The editing is all over the place, like the plot. The footage is sliced and diced as if done by two monkeys with attention deficit disorder.
Grade: C (An eclectic break)