#GerardButler and #AaronEckhart Are a Dynamic Duo in 1st Trailer for #LondonHasFallen

London Has Fallen, movie, poster, Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart

Lionsgate UK has today released the first trailer for London Has Fallen, the sequel to 2013’s Olympus Has Fallen. I can only assume that the release of the trailer had been scheduled around the original October 2015 release date, before it was pushed back to January 2016*. Not that I’m complaining, It’s been a loooong time since I’ve seen Gerard Butler on the big screen (and no, animated voice acting does not count). Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing depends on your perspective. To quote Peter Quill, I’d say it’s a “bit’a both”.

Following the events of the original film, in which Mike Banning (Butler) single-handedly saved the President (Aaron Eckhart) from the clutches of a North Korean terrorist bent on our complete annihilation, Banning has been reinstated as not only a member of the Secret Service, but he’s back on his friend and President’s personal detail.

In the sequel, the two, travel to London to attend the funeral of the British Prime Minister. Terrorists come of the woodwork, seeking to capitalize on this confluence of world leaders.

This is only the first little teaser, but it would appear that President Asher doesn’t have to play the damsel in distress in this one, and gets to assist Banning with the world-saving. Call me crazy, but I like the on-the-nose use of “London Bridge is Falling Down” underneath it.

Radha Mitchell is back as Banning’s wife Leah. Maybe he’ll take her along for that long-delayed honeymoon. (A little snogging would be nice, Butler. Throw your distaff fans a bone.) My guess is that the other returning players, including Head of the Secret Service, Lynn Jacobs (Angela Bassett), Speaker of the House Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), Secretary of Defense McMillan (Melisso Leo)NSA Deputy Director Ray Monroe (Sean O’Bryan) and even blowhard General Clegg (Robert Forster) are probably all left at home manning the switches.

The sequel to the worldwide smash hit Olympus Has Fallen begins in London, where the British Prime Minister has passed away under mysterious circumstances. His funeral is a must-attend event for leaders of the western world. But what starts out as the most protected event on earth, turns into a deadly plot to kill the world’s most powerful leaders, devastate every known landmark in the British capital, and unleash a terrifying vision of the future. Only three people have any hope of stopping it: the President of the United States, his formidable secret service head (Gerard Butler), and an English MI-6 agent who rightly trusts no one.

Directed by Babak Najafi ( Easy Money II: Hard to Kill, “Banshee”), written by Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger (who penned the original) and Christian Gudegast (A Man Apart, Den of Thieves**) with Chad St. John, the sequel also stars Charlotte Riley, Colin Salmon,  Patrick Kennedy, Shivani Ghai, Mehdi Dehbi and Andrew Pleavin*** and will be released on January 22, 2016.

More will surely follow.

London Has Fallen, movie, poster, Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart

*I know, I know. The rule is “beware the films of January” – but I’ve also said January is not the wasteland it used to be. I’m holding onto a kernel of hope. It’s Gerard Butler after all. I’m nothing if not loyal. I’m more perturbed by the fact that this film’s date was usurped by the Point Break remake.

**Den of Thieves is in pre-production and also stars Gerard Butler. I have to wonder whether or not it’s in jeopardy, like the oft-rescheduled Hunter Killer, due to Relativity’s financial woes.

***3rd time Pleavin will have appeared with Butler, following the made-for-television mini-series “Attila” and then 300

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Gerard Butler Set to Keep London Bridge From Falling Down…Maybe

Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, bromance, movie, Olympus Has Fallen

via imdb

Now that Olympus has been reduced to rubble, Gerard Butler and company are taking their show on the road. It’s just been announced that a sequel, London Has Fallen, is scheduled to begin shooting in Old Blighty next spring.

No director has yet been named, but Katrin Benedikt and Creighton Rothenberger will again write the screenplay. Millennium Films is financing and will produce along with Alan Siegel and Butler’s G-Base (formerly known as Evil Twins), as well as Mark Gill, Matt O’Toole and Danny Lerner, while Avi Lerner, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson, John Thompson and Christine Crow will exec. produce. Focus Features (which swallowed up Film District, which distributed the original) will release the film in the US.

Butler, along with Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Radha Mitchell and Angela Bassett are all reportedly on board. (So why isn’t OHF director Antoine Fuqua…yet? After the lovefest between Butler and Fuqua during press for OHF, there can’t be any bad blood there…can there? Surely not between any of the other producers? Olympus Has Fallen brought in $161m worldwide from a budget of approx. $40m. So, that can’t be it. Is he holding out for more money? I suppose we’ll soon find out.)

Okay, those are facts (along with a little conjecture). I just haven’t decided how I feel about this. On the one hand, it means that Olympus Has Fallen was a big enough hit that, according to the suits and bean counters, it merits a sequel. On the other hand, does it actually merit a sequel? Few films, in my humble opinion, do. Dollars (rubles, pounds, euros whatever) in the till should not be the only criterion. Is there more story to tell? The answer to that questions would appear to be no, since the plot sounds like it’s going to be a rehash, set in a different city:

There’s a  plot to strike the city of London during the funeral of the British Prime Minister. Only the President Of The United States (Eckhart), his secret service head (Butler) and an English MI6 agent can save the day.

This could be good if that agent is James Bond, played by Daniel Craig. Hey, I can dream. As long as it’s not Johnny English, there’s hope.

Please don’t misunderstand me. Would I like to see more of Special Agent Mike Banning as he wrecks havoc from Piccadilly to Mayfair, all the while gruffly spouting humorous one-liners and kicking terrorist ass? Of course I would. (Especially if it will mean another press tour featuring my new favorite bromance, Butler and Eckhart.) However, that’s not to say that I should. Sequels, with very few exceptions, do not live up to their originals, nor the hype with which they are inevitably surrounded in order to sell you a ticket.

Butler was smart enough to take a pass on the 300 sequel, but that was before his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year…or couple of years. I need not devote any more space to a defense of his past projects. The fact is, prior to OHF, his last couple of movies were box office duds, regardless of their respective actual merits. And we all know the saying, “You’re only as good as your last picture”. **

If all goes according to plan, London Has Fallen will go before the cameras on May 5, 2014. (So I’m assuming they’re looking at a 2015 release). Watch this space for updates.

Source: ScreenDaily.com

**Actress Marie Dressler upon acceptance of her Academy Award for Best Actress for Min and Bill, 1930

Worth Another Look: Olympus Has Fallen on DVD

Olympus Has Fallen, movie, dvd, blu-ray, Gerard Butler

As you’re by now aware, movie audiences were treated to not one, but two, White House under siege movies this year. The wildest (and yet more serious-minded), the one people actually went to see, Olympus Has Fallen, has just come out on dvd. Now we’ll all be able to watch Gerard Butler and Dylan McDermott go mano y mano over and over again til our {heart’s} content and in the privacy of our own homes. Woot!

Since my initial review, first posted in March, this movie has gone on to exceed expectations and OVER-perform in nearly all of the markets in which it was released, world-wide. There’s no question it benefitted from being first out of the gate, but as of this writing, it’s the number one dvd rental in North America (per imdb) and has been the number one movie rental in American hotel rooms two months (the only 2 in which it was available) in a row. (I’m presuming they aren’t counting porn, but maybe they are!)  It’s not rocket surgery, but it is a LOT of fun.  Just the thing to watch while sitting on the couch in your jammies with a big bowl of popcorn and a couple of adult bevvies. In any case, I thought this would be a good time to revisit my thoughts on the subject. What follows is a slightly abbreviated version of my review, ending with a listing of the special features on the home editions:

Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen is probably the wildest ride you’ll take since the last time you rode Space Mountain, the Cyclone or even Kingda Ka*.  Watching this action adventure is the equivalent of a turn on one of the world’s scariest roller coasters with a release of adrenaline and dopamine that makes us feel frightened, shocked,  giddy and intensely alive.  Whenever I get off a rollercoaster, I want to get right back on. I felt the same way after I saw this movie.

Gerard Butler stars, in what has been described as “Die Hard in the White House”. It follows a down-on-his-luck ex-Secret Service (Butler) agent who becomes America’s only hope when 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is taken over by terrorists.

When the White House (Secret Service Code: “Olympus”) is captured by a terrorist mastermind and the President is kidnapped, disgraced former Presidential guard Mike Banning finds himself trapped within the building. As our national security team scrambles to respond, they are forced to rely on Banning’s inside knowledge to help retake the White House, save the President and avert an even bigger crisis.

…We’ve all heard the term “edge-of-your-seat” thriller. If you’ve never actually been on the edge of your seat while watching a movie and thought that was just so much hyperbole, that is exactly the place from which you will watch most of this movie.

If you’ve seen a trailer or clip, you know that the relative calm with which the movie opens, a picture of a happy family that just happens to include the President of the United States (Aaron Eckhart, looking extremely Presidential, I might add), won’t last. It’s like the clickety-clacking of that rollercoaster slowly making its way up to the first peak and then WOO HOO!

We get a brief respite while we and the characters on screen recover. When the action starts again, it really starts and seldom lets up for the next hour and a half.

Director Fuqua’s pacing and the talented cast keep us from looking too closely for the zippers up the backs of the monsters. The plot moves so fast and the actors sell it so well, that we don’t have time to look for holes. (… when you’re biting your nails and dodging bullets you don’t have a moment to think about whether or not  “that would really happen”.)

If you think the sight of the Washington monument moments after a plane hits it looks familiar, it’s supposed to. It evokes one of the defining moments of our country’s recent history for a reason. It’s designed to deliberately stir our patriotism precisely so that when the shooting stops, you understand the journey that the people who inhabit the United States on screen under President Asher, have just taken.  It neatly sidesteps jingoism by giving the bad guy (Rick Yune as Kang) a cause, but does not delve too deeply into his back story except to let us know that however just that cause may or may not be and how cool, calculated and brilliant he may appear, he took the train to Crazy Town long ago.

It avoids predictability by resolving one subplot in particular quickly, without dragging it out into cliché and also by not treating the hostages as “damsels-in-distress” waiting to be saved, but as tough patriots determined to go down swinging if that is their fate. Again, I have to stress the brilliant casting.

Without an actress of Oscar winner Melissa Leo’s caliber, we might not buy a female Secretary of Defense or what she undergoes in that bunker. The same could be said of Angela Bassett’s Director of the Secret Service. Her part was originally written for a man, since there has never been a female director. She is completely plausible and despite the fact that we never learn a single thing about her background, with Bassett’s performance we can understand how tough Lynn Jacobs would have to be to even be considered for the job.

Can we talk about Gerard Butler now? I think readers of this blog know that I’m kinda partial and I’m not one who sees anything wrong with the fact that he mixes genres and continues to try new things, but if he was going to return to action/adventure, this was the movie to do it with.  Butler is more than credible as Agent Mike Banning, the head of the President’s protection detail, mentor and guardian of the President’s son, as well as Agent-in-Exile Mike Banning, with visible, barely contained anxiety stemming from his role in the death of the First Lady and the desire to get back “in”. G does “damaged hero” very well and this movie lets him play to those strengths. We absolutely buy him as an ex-special forces commando able to thin the enemy’s numbers single-handedly. We especially buy his banter. The many one-liners he gets off are hilarious and speak volumes about the man and how he handles himself under pressure. Credit the writers, Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, as well as Butler.

Do I even have to tell you that Morgan Freeman was completely believable as the Speaker of the House who becomes the Acting President? We’ve seen him in charge before and we always believe him. In fact, there are factions in this country who think he’s so good at acting like the president that they think he should run for the real job. (Mr. Freeman, I’ve read, takes that as a compliment to his abilities, but has no plans to run.) Freeman’s very casting is almost a spoiler.  How could everything not turn out okay on his watch?

Speaking of spoilers, I’m trying not to divulge anything that is best left for viewing, for instance there are more than a few of those one liners of Banning’s that I’d love to quote, but I will refrain. I can tell you that the fight scenes you may have seen, as well as the battles and carnage, are but the tip of the iceberg. I am serious when I tell you this movie doesn’t let up until the last two minutes of screen time. I can also tell you that the audiences with whom I saw the movie laughed, whooped and gasped at appropriate times and then erupted into cheers and applause when the bad guy finally bought it.

There will be people for whom this movie will be too much. Too much noise, too much blood, too much suspended disbelief, just too much. (For me there was a little too much kettle drum in the score.) This is a hard-R action movie. Lots of shit gets “blowed up” and the F-word is carpet bombed.  It won’t please everyone, nor should it. Those that like this sort of thing will love it.

Olympus Has Fallen, dvd, movie, blu-ray, Gerard Butler, Radha Mitchell

courtesy OHF Facebook page

The only nit I’ll pick was that I think there was probably originally more to Mike Banning’s relationship with his wife that didn’t make the final cut. Radha Mitchell is very good in her limited screen time and both she and Butler do convey a sense of the state of their relationship with very little, but I do believe we were denied a love scene. Just puttin’ that out there.

Olympus Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Morgan Freeman, Rick Yune, Dylan McDermott, Robert Forster, Cole Hauser and Radha Mitchell, is out on dvd and blu-ray in the US now, Australia tomorrow, August 21, and on 2nd September in the UK.

DVD Bonus Features (basically there are none. Boooo)

-Ultraviolet digital copy

BLU-Ray on the other hand, has a lot of Bonus Features:

-Bloopers

(Check out a partial reel at the link, courtesy AccessHollywood )

-The Epic Ensemble: A look at Antoine Fuqua’s direction and an overview of the main cast’s work.

-Under Surveillance: The Making of Olympus Has Fallen: Cast and crew examine the core story, the process of fleshing out the idea, Antoine Fuqua’s vision of the film as a “cautionary tale,” the plausibility of the plot, technical consultation, creating a conceivably real assault on the White House, shooting in Louisiana standing in for Washington, set construction, and the role of both digital and practical effects.

-Deconstructing the Black Hawk Sequence: A detailed, inside look at digitally creating one of the film’s biggest action pieces.

-Ground Combat: Fighting the Terrorists: An examination of Fuqua’s insistence on reality and choreographing the action scenes.

-Creating the Action: VFX and Design: A broader examination of the film’s visual effects.

Previews: Additional Sony titles.

DVD Copy.

UV Digital Copy.

*The tallest coaster in the World, fastest in North America. 0 to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds and catapulting you 45 stories into the sky.  Not for love nor money.

Everyone’s a Critic

Olympus Has Fallen Poster - Gerard Butler

Portions of this post were originally included HERE

As I mentioned in an earlier post on this blog (and in several others elsewhere**), I’ve been following the progress ofAntoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen since March of 2012 when Millennium acquired the rights to the screenplay by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt and Gerard Butler signed on to star.  While it was briefly retitled White House Taken, it was always described as “’Die Hard in the White House’ that follows a down-on-his-luck ex-Secret Service (Butler) agent who becomes America’s only hope when 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is taken over by terrorists”.

That tag brought with it immediate recognition for most movie-goers, as well as some derision from quite a few who write about film.  Having just seen it, I can not only say the comparison was apt, but that it seems everyone else who’s actually seen it thus far would agree.  (What’s the Scottish equivalent of “Yippee Ki-yay Motherfucker”?)

Olympus Has Fallen seems to have decided that the best way to get the word out about their film and how good it is, is to actually show it to people. Not to critics or press necessarily, but to people interested in seeing movies for their own sake;  members of the ticket-buying public.  THIS, in my humble opinion, is the way it should be done – take it to the people and avoid self-important “critics” or at least side step them.

Last Wednesday night (3/13/13), as I waited in line for one such screening here in Boston, I passed the time talking to a couple of guys who had never been to a screening before, but Fandango had been offering passes and the movie looked “kind of cool. Plus it was free”.  Once inside the auditorium, we parted ways (because I like to sit in front), but after it was over, they waited for me outside.   Since I like to stay for the credits (not only does one learn a lot by doing it, I think we owe it to the hundreds of talented people it takes to make a movie, most of whom go “unsung”. But I’ve said all this before. And as usual, I digress.),  one of them even snagged me a souvenir, the official “Olympus Has Fallen” lapel pin, that they were handing out that I would otherwise have missed. They were both SO excited about the movie, they wanted to talk about it with me, but best of all, they planned to not only tell their friends about it, but wanted to come back with them and see it again. This is exactly what a screening is designed to do.

While the idea of free screenings is not a new one, Millennium Films, Film District and the producers of Olympus Has Fallen (Fuqua and Butler among them) are taking the game to the next level. Through the use of social media like Twitter and Facebook, coupled with the screenings, they are currently riding a wave of tremendous (and tremendously positive) buzz. What’s more they’ve done it in about six weeks. I know I lamented the lack of PR for Olympus Has Fallen when the first images from that other, similarly themed movie, White House Down, were released way back in November of last year. Despite the fact that a new, earlier release date was announced in December, the first trailer for Olympus Has Fallen wasn’t released until mid-January. Since then, however,  there has been a steady stream of posters, clips, and images leading up to a flurry of interviews, appearances, pre-press and a LOT of nationwide screenings.

To my knowledge there haven’t been any press screenings yet. The PR team is using social media to publicize the screenings and advertise the feedback ahead of giving the film to the usual outlets or websites. That’s not to say they don’t want favorable press or that write-ups by well-established reviewers won’t appear. They are, after all, also utilizing tv spots and releasing clips to some of those websites and the director and his cast have been hitting the press junket hard, including countless interviews. My point is that even if critics trash the movie or the press pans it, it won’t matter. The buzz is already too strong, word-of-mouth too favorable. With less than a week to go before general release here in the US, it would seem they’ve effectively neutralized any possible negativity. That’s probably a rosy-hued opinion, but this could become a new model for movie marketing.

Of course, this does all hinge on having a quality product to begin with and it is because the producers of Olympus Has Fallen believe so strongly in their film that they could go this route successfully.

According to the New York Times, when the special Cinema Society screening ended on Monday night (3/11/13) in New York “and the credits rolled, the audience cheered. ‘Wow,’ said Harvey Weinstein as he shook Mr. Butler’s hand with gusto; in the lobby, he accosted Antoine Fuqua, the director. ‘You’ll do a hundred-million-plus,’ he told him (box-office-speak for big).”  Have I mentioned this one has industry buzz as well? So not only did Harvey attend the screening of a movie he had nothing to do with, but he predicted it would be huge. HUGE!  (In Harvey we trust.)

Congrats G (and the rest of the producers)…oh, and suck it Ryan Kavanagh.

Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen features an all-star cast including Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Dylan McDermott, Rick Yune, Radha Mitchell, Robert Forster, Cole Hauser and Ashley Judd. It opens in the US on March 22 and in the UK on 17th April.

** Including the sadly defunct INeedMyFix.com
** Including the sadly defunct INeedMyFix.com

Olympus Has Fallen is One Wild Ride!

Olympus Has Fallen poster

Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen is probably the wildest ride you’ll take since the last time you rode Space Mountain, the Cyclone or even Kingda Ka*.  Watching this action adventure is the equivalent of a turn on one of the world’s scariest roller coasters with a release of adrenaline and dopamine that makes us feel frightened, shocked,  giddy and intensely alive.  Whenever I get off a rollercoaster, I want to get right back on. I felt the same way after I saw this movie.

Gerard Butler stars, in what has been described as “Die Hard in the White House”. It follows a down-on-his-luck ex-Secret Service (Butler) agent who becomes America’s only hope when 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is taken over by terrorists.

When the White House (Secret Service Code: “Olympus”) is captured by a terrorist mastermind and the President is kidnapped, disgraced former Presidential guard Mike Banning finds himself trapped within the building. As our national security team scrambles to respond, they are forced to rely on Banning’s inside knowledge to help retake the White House, save the President and avert an even bigger crisis.

There have been a lot of screenings across the country in the past few weeks, building excitement for this this film. It’s practically a hit already and it hasn’t even opened yet. So just what can you expect when you finally get a chance to see it? We’ve all heard the term “edge-of-your-seat” thriller. If you’ve never actually been on the edge of your seat while watching a movie and thought that was just so much hyperbole, that is exactly the place from which you will watch most of this movie.

If you’ve seen a trailer or clip, you know that the relative calm with which the movie opens, a picture of a happy family that just happens to include the President of the United States (Aaron Eckhart), won’t last. It’s like the clickety-clacking of that rollercoaster slowly making its way up to the first peak and then BAM!  We get a brief respite while we and the characters on screen recover. When the action starts again, it really starts and seldom lets up for the next hour and a half.

Director Antoine Fuqua’s pacing and the talented cast keep us from looking too closely for the zippers up the backs of the monsters. The plot moves so fast and the actors sell it so well, that we don’t have time to look for holes. (And I’m not saying I saw any, but when you’re biting your nails and dodging bullets you don’t have a moment to think about whether or not  “that would really happen”.)

Olympus Has Fallen Washington Monument

If you think the sight of the Washington monument moments after a plane hits it looks familiar, it’s supposed to. It evokes one of the defining moments of our country’s recent history for a reason. It’s designed to deliberately stir our patriotism precisely so that when the shooting stops, you understand the journey that the people who inhabit the United States on screen under President Asher (Aaron Eckhart, looking extremely Presidential I may add),  have just taken.  It neatly sidesteps jingoism by giving the bad guy (Rick Yune as Kang) a cause, but does not delve too deeply into his back story except to let us know that however just that cause may or may not be and how cool, calculated and brilliant he may appear, he took the train to Crazy Town long ago.

It avoids predictability by resolving one subplot in particular quickly, without dragging it out into cliché and also by not treating the hostages as “damsels-in-distress” waiting to be saved, but as tough patriots determined to go down swinging if that is their fate. Again, I have to stress the brilliant casting.

Without an actress of Oscar winner Melissa Leo’s caliber, we might not buy a female Secretary of Defense or what she undergoes in that bunker. The same could be said of Angela Bassett’s Director of the Secret Service. Her part was originally written for a man, since there has never been a female director. She is completely plausible and despite the fact that we never learn a single thing about her background, with Bassett’s performance we can understand how tough Lynn Jacobs would have to be to even be considered for the job.

Olympus Has Fallen Gerard Butler

Can we talk about Gerard Butler now? I think readers of this blog know that I’m kinda partial and I’m not one who sees anything wrong with the fact that he mixes genres and continues to try new things, but if he was going to return to action/adventure, this was the movie to do it with.  Butler is more than credible as Agent Mike Banning, the head of the President’s protection detail, mentor and guardian of the President’s son, as well as Agent-in-Exile Mike Banning, with visible, barely contained anxiety stemming from his role in the death of the First Lady and the desire to get back “in”. G does “damaged hero” very well and this movie lets him play to those strengths. We absolutely buy him as an ex-special forces commando able to thin the enemy’s numbers single-handedly. We especially buy his banter. The many one-liners he gets off are hilarious and speak volumes about the man and how he handles himself under pressure. Credit the writers, Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt, as well as Butler.

Do I even have to tell you that Morgan Freeman was completely believable as the Speaker of the House who becomes the Acting President? We’ve seen him in charge before and we always believe him. In fact, there are factions in this country who think he’s so good at acting like the president that they think he should run for the real job. (Mr. Freeman, I’ve read, takes that as a compliment to his abilities, but has no plans to run.) Freeman’s very casting is almost a spoiler.  How could everything not turn out okay on his watch?

Speaking of spoilers, I’m trying not to divulge anything that is best left for viewing, for instance there are more than a few of those one liners of Banning’s that I’d love to quote, but I will refrain. (In some ways I think there have been too many clips of the film released. I will say this, it’s all about context.) I can tell you that the fight scenes you may have seen, as well as the battles and carnage, are but the tip of the iceberg. I am serious when I tell you this movie doesn’t let up until the last two minutes of screen time. I can also tell you that the audience I saw the movie with laughed, whooped and gasped at appropriate times and then erupted into cheers and applause when the bad guy finally bought it.

There will be people for whom this movie will be too much. Too much noise, too much blood, too much suspended disbelief, just too much. (For me there was a little too much kettle drum in the score.) This is a hard-R action movie. Lots of shit gets blowed up and the F-word is carpet bombed.  It won’t please everyone, nor should it. Those that like this sort of thing will love it. My first response to a friend after I saw the movie? “However good you THINK Olympus Has Fallen will be-multiply that by 10”.

The only nit I’ll pick was that I think there was probably originally more to Mike Banning’s relationship with his wife that didn’t make the final cut. Radha Mitchell is very good in her limited screen time and both she and Butler do convey a sense of the state of their relationship with very little, but I do believe we were denied a love scene. Just puttin’ that out there.

Olympus Has Fallen, starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Angela Bassett, Morgan Freeman, Rick Yune, Dylan McDermott, Robert Forster, Cole Hauser and Radha Mitchell, opens in the US on March 22 and 17th April in the UK.

So are you in or are you out? Have you already seen it? What did you think? Leave me a comment and we can discuss.

*The tallest coaster in the World, fastest in North America. 0 to 128 mph in 3.5 seconds and catapulting you 45 stories into the sky.  Not for love nor money.

A Few Words on the Meaning of Play or Pay & Then Some More Olympus Has Fallen Goodies!

When an actor accepts a role and signs on the dotted line of the contract , he or she takes a few things on faith, not the least of which is that he will be paid the agreed upon fee for his services. In exchange, the actor agrees to be physically available during the time period set forth in the contract (which will probably include the contingency of reshoots as well as the promotion of the finished product), to the exclusion of all other offers.

Now, since we all know that “shit happens”, and sometimes the best laid plans of mice, men and producers, go awry,entertainment lawyers have devised something called “a guarantee”.In filmmakers terms, a guarantee refers to a clause in an actor’s (or director’s) contract that guarantees him or her compensation if, through no fault of their own, the individual is released from the contract prior to the completion of their services. This is what is known in “the biz” as “play-or-pay”.

Why are we talking about this?Well, for those of us who follow such things, it’s been in the news recently as regards one of our favorites, Gerard Butler, who is suing the producers of the now-defunct Motor City, which as we know, shut down production late last summer just weeks before cameras were set to roll. Butler is claiming to have had a “play or pay” contract and he wants his money.

Of course the other side is claiming that he had no such contract and that all they had was what amounted to a verbal agreement and they owe him nothing. Seriously, regardless of what anyone thinks of Butler’s acting abilities (or even his ability to choose a quality project), does anyone actually believe he’d agree to do a movie on the basis of a handshake? Would anyone?

While some studios are reluctant to agree to guarantees, they accept them as part of the deal for signing major talent. They also have the advantage of enabling a studio to simply remove a player under such a contract with few legal complications – usually the lesser of two evils between legal and financial). Motor City wasn’t a major studio production, however.

Butler’s camp argues that it was on the basis of his name and bankability (and again folks, remember what I’ve said in the past, regardless of what you perceived to be the quality, Butler’s films generally make money) financing was secured for the flick. This point is difficult to argue since there is ample evidence of him working hard for the money down in the south of France during last year’s Cannes Film Festival.In addition to his duties promoting the sale of Olympus Has Fallen (which he went on to film shortly thereafter), he was doing the same forMotor City, which was to have been his second project of 2012.

Based on his commitment to Motor City, Butler alleges that he had the shooting schedule for OHF modified to accommodate that film.He also did not pursue, and indeed turned down, other projects.Those of you who may have been wondering why he’s been on an extended vacation for the last six months, now know why. Motor City was to have filmed, say late September to late November.Thunder Run, to be directed by Simon West and to costar Sam Worthington and Matthew McConaughey, which was changed from motion-capture, all CGI to live-action, was also pushed back (so that McConaughey could eat a sandwich after whittling himself away to nearly nothing for the filming of Dallas Buyers Club. Skeletons don’t make for very convincing tank commanders). Both of these things left Butler with a huge gap in his schedule.So the carnival rolled on.

Lending credence to Butler’s claims is the fact that he is not the only one unhappy with the producers of Motor City. Members of the various unions, who don’t have the luxury of “pay or play” contracts but who were relying on the weeks or months of employment, were told to pack up and go home. Many of them had turned down other work as well.Then there are the various suppliers of various services that had already been rendered to the location set when the plug was pulled, that have yet to be paid.

The producers can say anything they please (short of libel) with reference to the “frivolousness” of the lawsuit and the ridiculousness of Gerard Butler’s claims. that does not mean it is or they are.That’s for a judge to decide.My money’s on Butler. Whatever else you think he is, he’s not stupid.

Okay after all of that, let’s get back to Olympus Has Fallen.For whatever reasons, whether fairly or unfairly, both of Butler’s 2012 releases, Chasing Mavericks and Playing for Keeps, met with less than enthusiasm from critics and indifference from most of the ticket buying public (although not only did both do much better in foreign markets than domestic, but I do think both will do very well on dvd and VoD ).

As I’ve said before, perception is everything. So, despite the fact that the reasons for his inactivity were technically beyond his control, combined with the perceived failure of his last two films, the need for Olympus Has Fallen to hit and hit big, is even greater.

The good news is that, in my humble opinion, this flick just might do the trick. In Olympus Has Fallen, you’ve got a director not only capable of directing action but he’s also capable of directing actors.Antoine Fuqua directed Denzel Washington to a Best Actor Oscar in Training Day, after all. While I won’t be so bold as to predict any such thing will happen here, he has worked with some really fine actors including Clive Owen, Keira Knightely, Ethan Hawke, Don Cheadle, Richard Gere, Mads Mikkelsen, Joel Edgerton, Stellan Skarsgaard, just to name a few.

Fuqua has assembled a truly talented cast this time around, including Academy Award winners Morgan Freeman and Melissa Leo, nominees Angela Basset and Robert Forster, Independent Spirit Award winners Aaron Eckhart and Ashley Judd as well as Golden Globe winner Dylan McDermott.

The screenwriters for Olympus Has Fallen may be first timers, but the script written by Creighton Rothenberger and Katrin Benedikt was so hot that it went into production very quickly and with virtually no rewrites. Well, until the producers got a hold of it. Still, practically unheard of, especially for first-timers.

The most promising news, in my humble opinion, is that the usually cynical coterie of movie bloggers and other web-based cinephiles, despite whatever reservations they may have about Butler of late, seem to be willing to give this one a chance. While some may snicker at the “Die-Hard in the White House” label, the majority seem to be saying “Hell yes!” to the full-on action. A lot of those that have been calling for Butler to abandon the rom-coms and return to his perceived (there’s that word again) macho roots are in that number. I even read a tweet from one the other day that said OHF should have been Die Hard 5 over what we were given instead (A Good Day to Die Harder).

We have the first featurette to share with you in which Butler and Freeman discuss the film. If the rest of the clips, featurettes and tv spots that are sure to follow in the next six weeks are met with the same generosity, I predict opening weekend for Olympus Has Fallen will be huge. (Okay at least better than average…Or pretty good…I don’t want to jinx anything!)







images courtesy of ComingSoon and Film District – video courtesy of Yahoo

Catching Up Before We Find Olympus Has Fallen

The last Gerard Butler movie that I discussed at this address was Coriolanus. There wasn’t a lot to talk about in the Land of Butler for many moons, but after a long drought, last fall we were given Chasing Mavericks and then in short order, Playing for Keeps, both of which I championed prior to their theatrical runs, elsewhere. It’s fitting that we talk about them here, now, as they’re both due to be released on dvd within the next few weeks.

Let’s start with Chasing Mavericks in which newcomer Jonny Weston played real-life surfing legend Jay Moriarty and Gerard Butler played his mentor, Rick “Frosty” Hesson.

By now, even if you haven’t seen the film, you’ve seen myriad interviews and reviews. Once again I’m struck by the disconnect between what those who are paid to view and review movies think and what the movie-going public actually likes. While I don’t always agree with public sentiment, on this film I do. 77% of the Rotten Tomatoes crowd liked this movie a lot, while only 32% of critics did.

Let me offer my completely biased opinion on this one. As far as inspirational stories go, despite the fact that you may think you know the tale (and cynics will tell you that is the case), this one has managed to sidestep a lot, not all, of the usual hackneyed, movie-of-the-week, traps. Of course it does tick some of those boxes – Absent father: check, Neglectful mother: check, Girl-Next-Door: check, etc.

But, instead of focusing on the fact that it contains a lot of clichés found in other inspirational sports movies (Is it cliché if it’s true? The fact that certain elements are part of the true story is the reason someone wanted to film it in the first place) or Butler’s accent (although to be fair, a lot of critics who didn’t like the film overall have praised his performance, some calling it his best), why not focus on what the movie is really about: relationships.

While the film is set in the insular world of big-wave surfing, both Frosty and Jay have strong growth arcs as their “surrogate father/son” relationship forms, grows and then reverses. Chasing Mavericks isn’t just about Jay Moriarty becoming a world-class surfer, it’s also about his personal growth from misfit kid into a confident man, as well as Frosty’s growth as a husband and more importantly, as a father.

What you get is an emotionally stirring story set against some of the most incredible surf footage on film, made all the more poignant knowing that everything that Frosty warns Jay about, as well as providing him with the wisdom to survive it, is real.

It’s a true story so yes, people are born and people die within the course of the film. The overall message though is simple: live life every day, every minute. Live like Jay.

Playing for Keeps is more problematic.

What started as a story about a little league dad besieged by desperate housewives called “Slide”, morphed into a soccer movie (about pretty much the same thing) when producer Gerard Butler optioned the script. The title was changed to Playing the Field and the plot would seem to support that title. Butler’s character is a pro-soccer (even though I’m American, I so want to call it football as the rest of the world does) player whose career is at an end. Apparently it was all downhill from there and since nothing else has gone right in his life, he decides it’s time to reconnect with his son and his ex-wife (Noah Lomax and Jessica Biel respectively) who are living in a small town somewhere in Virginia. The trouble of course, arrives in the form of those infamous “soccer moms” who can’t keep their hands off of him. (Why anyone had a problem believing this part of the story is beyond me. C’mon!) These women are played by Catherine Zeta Jones, Uma Thurman and Judy Greer, so it’s not as if it would have been a hardship for George (Butler) either.

Okay, so that’s all well and good. I would have liked to have known a little bit more about George and why his career ended, but frankly that was the least of this film’s problems. The trouble really began when someone somewhere along the line decided to shift the focus of the film from George and the ladies in what could have been a funny, sexy romp, finally taking advantage of its star's appeal, to a family melodrama about George and Stacy and Lewis. With the tonal shift came a title change as well, to Playing for Keeps. (My theory is that the producers, Butler among them, heard the universe groaning under the weight of another bad rom-com and took a different tack.)

But having decided that they were now going for warm and fuzzy as opposed to hot and sexy, both elements of the story remained. Women still pursued George and he still accepted their favors, conflicted about his attraction to them and his desire to “play the field” vs nurturing a renewed relationship with his wife and son, but the comedy had been bled out of it.

Here’s the thing, either element could have worked on its own and I even believe both elements could have worked in the same movie, but they had to GO FOR IT. The director, Gabriele Muccino, is Italian. Italians appreciate romance, drama and farce all in one movie (and the fact that this one opened HUGE in Italy, not to mention Roberto Benigni’s entire career, bear that out). I think Muccino pulled his punches for an American audience.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot to like about Playing for Keeps. (Despite what you may have heard, I don’t think it was in any way misogynistic. But then again I don’t ascribe hidden motives or darker meaning to it in any way.) For one, the star hasn’t looked this good in a long time. (In both Chasing Mavericks and Playing for Keeps, Butler's hair deserved its own credit. In PFK he got to keep his accent! Bonus! And then there was that towel…) Okay all of that aside, in PFK, Gerard Butler gives one of his finest, most subtle performances since Dear Frankie (when the script allowed him to be subtle and vulnerable and emotionally engaged that is).

I’ve never been much of a Jessica Biel fan, but then I haven’t seen a lot of her work. I caught a film version of Noel Coward's Easy Virtue with Biel, Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas and she held her own in some pretty good company. I think she was equally good here.

Catherine Zeta Jones looked like she was having a blast playing the vixen in a small but crucial role. Perpetual second-fiddle Judy Greer (who really needs a starring role) also looked like she was having fun. The woman who nearly stole The Descendants from George Clooney got to put the moves on Gerard Butler and had some nice comic moments as well. Uma Thurman’s character, I believe, fared the worst. There was nothing wrong with her performance, but her scenes were cut to make her look a tad nuts. Crying in one scene, then the next time we see her she’s rolling around in a bed lying in wait for George and giggling like she’s on Lithium.

I believe that the stories of each of these characters, as well as that of Dennis Quaid, were more fleshed out in the original and a lot was left on the cutting room floor.

The best part of Playing for Keeps, at least the version we got to see, was George’s relationship with his son Lewis. The young actor who played him, Noah Lomax, was a revelation. He’s adorable, but he’s also talented. There was nothing “kid actor” with its attendant mugging and stiffness about him, there was only a natural kid. Noah next appears in Safe Haven with Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough, out next weekend. I hope he goes far.

I’ve mentioned the disconnect between critic and Joe Ticketbuyer, but I also wonder about the gap between what an actor promoting a film says that his or her experience in making that film was, as compared to what the critics have to say about the finished product.

If an actor really doesn’t believe in the product they’re trying to sell you, I think it’s obvious, just as it’s obvious when they do. I realize they are “actors,” but I look for non-verbal cues like body language, which are usually dead giveaways, to me anyway.

One of the things I have always liked about Gerard Butler is how passionate he gets about his work and how committed and tireless he is when it comes time to promote it and get it out there. During interviews answering the same questions over and over, he manages to sound enthusiastic and respond in a slightly nuanced way each time. My obvious soft spot for Butler notwithstanding, (I’ll be the first to say that he needs to choose his projects better) but if that’s “acting”, give the man a break, a good role and an Oscar.

“A movie has to be really bad for me not to like it. If a movie entertains
me and/or makes me laugh {or cry} then I will like it. A movie’s number one job
is to make sure the audience is having a good time…”*

Can we talk about Olympus Has Fallen now?

Here’s the official synopsis:

When the White House (Secret Service Code: “Olympus”) is captured by a terrorist mastermind and the President is kidnapped, disgraced former Presidential guard Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) finds himself trapped within the building. As our national security team scrambles to respond, they are forced to rely on Banning’s inside knowledge to help retake the White House, save the President (Aaron Eckhart) and avert an even bigger disaster. Antoine Fuqua (Training Day) directs an all-star cast featuring Butler, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Ashley Judd and Rick Yune.

This one has been through a few title changes as well. First it was Olympus Has Fallen, then it during the Cannes Film Market it was changed to White House Taken then, so as not to be confused with Roland Emmerich’s White House Down, it was changed back to Olympus Has Fallen. Personally, I like that title a lot better.

Film District (which also released Playing for Keeps) has decided to move UP the release date for Antoine Fuqua’s action flick, from its April date to March 22. One theory is the move is an attempt to put even more distance between OHF and that other similarly themed flick starring our favorite tater, Channing Tatum-tot. (It’s a tag team match folks! Gerard Butler and Aaron Eckhart vs Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx! Who will win? We may have to have Antoine Fuqua take on Roland Emmerich as the tie-breaker. Secret weapon: Morgan Freeman vs. James Woods. Advantage: Olympus Has Fallen.)

Personally, I really don’t get the assumption that Olympus Has Fallen is somehow the “low rent version" of Tot’s pic. OHF was announced first, cast first, rolled into production first and finished first. It has a better cast and purportedly a better script. How does that make it the “Hydrox version” to WHD’s “Oreo”? WHD did get a series of stills published in Entertainment Weekly back in November. That is the kind of thing that signals the upper hand to the average movie-goer. As it is, you can’t read or hear about one movie without the other being mentioned.

We now have two trailers out for OHF, both a domestic and UK edition. The UK version is slightly shorter, tighter. The differences are very subtle. (I've included both below) Director Antoine Fuqua has admitted working on the trailer up until about three days before it was dropped. Think maybe the earlier release date caught him by surprise?

Personally, I think the move had something to do with getting a “quality” product with Butler’s name on it before the viewing public ASAP. It’s all about perception. And the perception is, G needs a hit.

White House Down is currently scheduled for June 28. We’ll see if it stays that way. As Deadline (and countless others have) pointed out, the theory is it’s usually better to be first ie: Capote did much better than Infamous. BUT just last year, after a spirited game of leap frog, Relativity put Mirror Mirror out first, yet Universal’s Snow White And The Huntsman did far better. Of course they were apples and oranges. And it’s still all about the execution.

Olympus Has Fallen also stars Robert Forster, Cole Hauser, Dylan McDermott and Radha Mitchell and will be released in the US on March 22 and in the UK on 19th April. My hopes remain high.

*Eriq Martin/IGN

Parts of this post have appeared on INeedMyFix.com

Domestic Trailer:


UK version: