Tuesday, January 7, 2014

DVD(s) of the Holidays: Round Up!

No, "Round Up" isn't the name of a movie.

So over the Festive Break we did manage to get through a couple of new films, and rather than do long writes for each one - two of them don't really deserve it and the other...well there are other reasons for that - I thought I'd just do a quick catch-up on all three in one go.

Olympus Has Fallen
The first of two movies featuring Terrorists taking over the White House, Olympus has Fallen stars walking shout-machine Gerald Butler remind us that of why he's not really that big a star. It's a film taking itself far too seriously, with a tragic (and literally wife-fridging) opening designed to give the film some sort of emotional overlay it doesn't deserve, before embarking on an overly complex plan to storm the White House, hold everyone to ransom, and um, blow up America? Maybe? It all gets a little hazy in the final act, to be honest. The better members of the cast are largely sidelined in favour of Butler looking grumpy at things, and it suffers from telegraphing it's own plot holes, rather than trying to skim over them with, I dunno, wit, style or originality.

The best thing you can say about Olympus Has Fallen is that it isn't awful. Some of the set pieces are fun, it clips along at a good pace, and me and Z had fun picking it to bits over a bottle of wine. So there's that.

It's safe to say that Oblivion is a better film, but also more of a disappointment. Set in a desolate future Earth, Oblivion lifts steadily and frequently from films like Moon, The Matrix and Silent Running (and more!) and much of it's running time is reminiscent of those thoughtful, character-heavy SF movies that crop up every now and again. It's full of interesting ideas, and it's core concept is pretty cool. It's just wasted on a film that doesn't really know what to do with it all.

And it's such a shame. It's not like the film goes so far along one path and veers to another as it's final denouement is also character-focused and loaded with potential. But what it does do is play it safe at key moments in the plot, and relies a little too much of exposition, on the lead character (and by extension the audience) being lead around, rather than making his own discoveries, and earning his resolutions himself. Again, an interesting supporting cast (especially Angela Riseborough) are badly wasted. In the end it's "fine" but I can't help but feel at some point in development this was a much more challenging and interesting movie.

Despicable Me 2 
I can't really review this, but I did watch it. Or rather, I was in the room entertaining children during the first half, but got to watch the second which looked really good fun. So, Despicable Me 2, the last 40 minutes look great! Go see that bit, at least!