Tag Archives: aaron eckhart

Movie Review: Olympus Has Fallen

America. The world’s best and brightest. The land of the free and home of the brave, the stars and stripes, the metropolitans that scrape the sky and the country towns that remind us all of our roots. America the beautiful.

I will admit to having never traveled internationally, nor do I think there is a way to measure patriotism, but as an American, I acknowledge that Americans have a strong sense of nationalism. People here believe in this country more than they believe in themselves. We believe in the American dream.

So when I watch a film like Olympus Has Fallen that screams America, it’s incredibly hard not to enjoy it. I tabbed Olympus Has Fallen as my third favorite film from 2013, but had not reviewed it.

Olympus Has Fallen made it into my top five because of the emotion and patriotic parade it unveils in front of its audiences. Pittsburgh product Antoine Fuqua is known for his ability to convey polarizing emotion, such as in Tears of the Sun and his best work, Training Day, which earned Denzel Washington an Oscar for Best Actor. He puts emotion in a box and let’s it grow naturally. His plot work is often absurd, with Olympus Has Fallen being yet another example, but his dedication to the feel element is noticeable and worth some credit.

Olympus Has Fallen‘s plot is waiting to get put under the knife for dissection. It’s waiting for you to laugh at it, but I don’t think Fuqua cares about any of this. The opening sequences, as frivolous as they are, serve to set the stage, introduce some characters that probably won’t matter later and introduce our hero, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler). Fuqua builds his pieces like a chess amateur. He sets the board and rather than try to confuse or distract his opponent from the moves he’s making, he simply tries to outsmart him. He meets him head-on and dares him to outmuscle him. Audiences have a field day with this approach, especially when the plot is as easy to laugh at as it is here. There are plenty who can watch Olympus Has Fallen and believe this is an all-too-real possibility and others will point out the inaccuracies and implausibilities in the story’s opening frames. It gets to the point of lunacy real quick, but if you stick with it and you wait for the rally that’s bound to happen with Butler at the head, it’ll manage to echo out all of the outside noise shouting how false this movie is.

Olympus Has Fallen seeks to bring America down to show Americans’ strongest attribute: determination. America is unrelenting in its pursuit for justice, freedom and peace. If we take a minute to take Olympus Has Fallen seriously, it seems like an impossible feat. One man against a hundred North Korean terrorists in the most secure building in the world. Against impossible odds, however, America has always overcome. Whether it be international conflict, turmoil here at home, or feats on the stages of sports, America is never out.

I’ve talked about America so much in this review because that’s what Fuqua is going for here. There isn’t a lot of reasons why things go down as they do. You can question it if you want to, as well you should at some points, or you can live it. I know how the saying goes about assuming, but assume for a minute that this happened. You are one man, against a hundred. (Not one of 300 against thousands this go-around, Gerard.) The country’s foundation as we know it rests on your shoulders.

The action and the ‘Merica moments aside, there’s not a lot going on here. Butler’s Banning has some great one-liners that you like to see come out of your action heroes, but in terms of character, it’s superficial. The same can be said for the majority of the cast here. Olympus Has Fallen has little draw to anyone outside of its U.S-intended audience and the lack of personality here subdues it in the end from a critical standpoint. It’s mindless action, but has emotion entangled with it, and that emotion makes all the difference in the world.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (DeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellar)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (CreedScouts Guide to the Zombie ApocalypseCrimson PeakThe MartianBlack Mass)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2Beasts of No NationTerminator: GenisysBlack Sheep)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (RaceEverestHerculesThe SentinelMad Max: Fury Road)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (War, The Ridiculous 6The Lost BoysZombeaversCrank)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (CatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic FourThe Boy Next Door)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Olympus Has Fallen: 84.

Did Olympus Has Fallen deserve to make my top five in 2013? Probably not. With that said, I can see why I ranked it that way. Fuqua’s piece is ready to lead the charge. All you have to do is follow his lead.

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Movie Review: Erased

I’ve got quite a few drafts I’m working on right now and I’m churning them out the best I can.

Erased is up next and I watched this because again, I was tired of looking at it on my “Top Picks for Tim” list on Netflix.

Erased, known as The Expatriate outside of the U.S., stars Aaron Eckhart in another film he shouldn’t be in.

Aaron Eckhart, why do you keep doing this to yourself? Eckhart continues to find substandard roles to follow the upper-caliber talent he expressed in The Dark Knight as Harvey Dent, easily his best performance. Another half-baked character and father-daughter relationship that I can add to the list “Times Netflix has wasted my life.”

Ben Logan (Eckhart) works for a technology company in Belgium with his daughter Amy, who until recently never knew him. As always the other parent has died after “getting sick” and now Eckhart has some new obstacles in his way.

A quick sidenote: If I had a $100 for every time I watched a movie where one of the kid’s parents “got sick”, I’d be able to payoff a semester of tuition. It is one of the most overused clichés in film today. Come up with something creative or better yet, just don’t mention it. I don’t need to know what happened to the mother. It’s not important. She’s not here and that’s all that matters. Stop throwing it in there. Assuming that’s the case is fine if you want to but don’t waste screen time talking about dead parents. It’s not building connections with the material or the parties involved. Move on.

I’m sorry, but man does that bug me. Anyway, Logan notices one of the products he’s working on has a patent not registered with the company and when he lets his superior know, everything starts getting weird. However, before I talk about what’s getting weird, let’s have Logan accidentally give his daughter a cookie with peanuts in it and visit a hospital, which will somehow play into the happenings later on or just act as a brief intermission. The next day, he goes to work and the office is empty. Everything is gone. Something that doesn’t make sense in this introductory clause is he decides to bring his daughter to work with him for some reason. He was going to pick up a delivery so I assume it was meant to be an in-and-out thing, but why does she need to be there? Earlier in the film, Logan sees his daughter is struggling with school and he lectures her about the need to keep her grades up but his solution to getting her to improve is to have a “bring child to work” day? Doesn’t make any sense to me.

That’s all the plot you’re going to get from me and you should be grateful I don’t say more. Might put you to bed.

One example of this film’s incoherence is Liana Liberato. Apparently she won a best actress award for a drama flick called Trust and was even praised by critic Roger Ebert, but Liberato wouldn’t be allowed on my high school stage. Nearly everyone mentioned Liberato’s lifeless acting in the Netflix reviews for this and I couldn’t agree more. Her character, Ben’s daughter Amy, is meaningless to the plot and does nothing but whine all the time. At times, it replicates relationship turmoil that can be found in the daytime soap opera of your choosing. It’s uninviting dialogue and far too choppy a script to accomplish much smiles for the audience. Director Philipp Stolzl has no sense of humor, allowing no quick comedy or lightheartedness to take place between the two, which might have eased the awkwardness audiences are sure to feel whenever Liberato tries to put on a serious face. The pitch of the film seems to be in an uncomfortable range because it never flows right. Scene transitions make this story pace like the heartbeat of an adrenaline-filled rabbit, which is counter-productive to establishing surprise or apprehension. Stolzl is in such a hurry to get this film over with that he ignores the opportunity to highlight Eckhart’s narrative voice and doesn’t create any impactful dialogue for Ben and Amy to share.

Yet to say the film is up-tempo would be a lie. Events unfold at a brisk pace but time proceeds in such a lackadaisical fashion. Removed of build-up and without deciphering a theme, Erased leaves you feeling empty.

The concept of having your life erased was a good starting point, but it was downhill from there, especially when they brought Olga Kurylenko into this. I’m unsure how she maintains the title “actress” because she cannot perform. She’s so lifeless in everything I’ve seen her in aside from Centurion, but that was because she was a mute and had to demonstrate some emotion so she wasn’t standing still like a mannequin. She needs to stick to modeling and stop picking up scripts all together. Her character is only an expanse of an overused story cliché.

The whole script was underdeveloped and that left Eckhart shouldering the film. Any entertainment you get from Erased will probably be from Eckhart, but I doubt you’ll get much from it. The plot’s overly symptomatic of other thriller films such as the Bourne trilogy and is comfortable wearing the coats of those before it.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (American BeautyGone GirlMulanGuardians of the GalaxyDawn of the Planet of the Apes)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young Guns)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(SnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands TallBlack Hawk DownRed Dawn(2012))

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (TwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe RavenDead Snow)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (RageZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: Retaliation)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (I, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly MadisonA Haunted House)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for Erased: 41.

Over the last week, I’ve watched Twisted, The Frozen Ground, Stolen, In the Name of the King and this. Twisted was the best of the group so if you’re looking for some decency, I’d go with that. As for Erased, erase it from your memory.

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Movie Review: Battle: Los Angeles

First, I want to let you guys know I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. I have been watching movies, but purely for entertainment, not for reviewing. I’ve missed you guys and writing so I’m getting back on the horse before I go on vacation. I’ll get back to posting like I used to and entertaining all you guys. To help me get started, Chris has come by for another bonus brother edition.

Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) thinks he’s reached the end of the line and is about to retire when an alien invasion decides to crash the party. He’s thrown into a platoon under an inexperienced lieutenant and has the eyes of everyone in the squad on him because everyone knows he lost his squad during his tour in Iraq. Rumors are he got his squad killed. In other words, Nantz is on the hot seat. Everyone’s judging him and his life is in the hands of someone who doesn’t have a clue what they’re doing.

Despite the hostile atmosphere Nantz is surrounded by, there doesn’t seem to be anything bad about the guy, allowing the audience to side with Nantz, view things from his perspective and brew some character connection. It’s a good start, although the old veteran leads the rookies is a tale that has been exhausted time and time again.

However, Eckhart does a solid job distracting my attention from the obvious clichés, guiding me instead to the dangerous escapade these characters are about to embark on and keeping me in the moment so that I’m engaged and concentrated. It generates a sense of belonging and leaves us closer to the material then we probably need to be because once again, the clichés are smacking me in the head like a low ceiling. Think of a war movie and the clichés you see so often. They’re probably present here. Anyone who is married, especially to a pregnant spouse, is doomed. Youngest guy of the group always dies. Those are just two of a considerable collection but Eckhart is keeping the ship afloat as are the supporting cast. No one’s doing anything special or noteworthy. Everyone enters the spotlight, says their line and backs off. No one’s begging for attention but there’s also no one I have a semblance of. Which of these characters am I rooting for the most besides Nantz? There’s no favoritism and while favoritism is a bad thing in most cases, a lack of favoritism is detrimental here. I care but I don’t feel stressed about whatever may happen next and I feel like I should. A character dies? Oh, well I guess that kinda sucks. There’s some character connection because we’re living the situation, but the characters are just that: characters. They’re not people, at least it doesn’t give off that vibe. I’m involved, yes, but not for one second do I feel like I’m living this movie. I want to experience this movie and I’m not reaching that level of depth or fulfillment here, leaving me a little disappointed because this film isn’t even close to its full potential.

Chris: Who gives a crap about the characters?

Tim: Umm, well, I do, but go on.

Chris: Armor-enforced aliens blowing up half of Los Angeles and terrorizing the earth has never looked so cool. You’re not really that focused about the characters because you’re focused on the awesome action scenes you’re presented with. Yeah, there are clichés but there are aliens blowing stuff up. What’s not cool about aliens blowing stuff up? I’ll give you a hint: absolutely nothing.

Tim: The action scenes are pretty good but I have seen better. They’re entertaining and give audiences camerawork reminiscent of Battlefield. It’s not far-fetched or too sci-fi, instead substituting a healthy dose of realism and keeping it that way. The action isn’t perfect, but it’s fun to watch and keeps me entertained.

Chris: The first ten minutes there’s not a whole lot of action but after that it is a non-stop rush which is why everyone should see this movie.

Tim: Chris is clearly more fond of this movie then I am because this is not a must-see at all nor is it a non-stop rush. There is plenty of dialogue, some that approaches the boundaries of corny, and some suspense they try to play with isn’t all that successful. The third act is well worth the watch by itself, but a must-watch is giving this movie far too much credit.

Chris: I completely disagree. Yes, there were things you can see in this movie that you can see in any other movie, but this movie is worth the ride. It is Aaron Eckhart’s best movie.

Tim: It is definitely not Eckhart’s best movie, but there’s no doubt that Eckhart is the primary life-preserver here. As always, Eckhart delivers a speech, something that must be in all his movie contracts or something. His character isn’t full-fledged. It’s like a bird flying for the first time. He’s flying, but he’s not a professional.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Jack ReacherGodzilla, SecretariatPrisonersMr. & Mrs. Smith)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2Spider-Man 3Divergent)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (SkyfallCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs300FlyboysDawn of the Dead)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (SpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster MovieDodgeball: A True Underdog Story)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Billy MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipity)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (StonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (Open GraveAlien 3Dark FuryMidnight Cowboy)

My score for Battle: Los Angeles: 72.

Battle: Los Angeles could have been more than it was, but a sound performance from Aaron Eckhart keeps the film upright, making it a decent film to watch on TV if you’re bored and looking for something to watch.

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