Thursday, January 30, 2014

Olympus Has Fallen vs. White House Down

Two films were released in 2013 based on the same concept: Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down. The plot being the takeover of the White House by terrorists. In 2012, a couple of character-related movies were also premiered: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter and Lincoln. The latter deuce cannot be compared as they only have major characters in common. But the White House movies deserve to be tackled.

(Source: Wikipedia)

  Firstly, I will elaborate on the movie that was issued fundamentally. Although, I watched the trailer of WHD before OHF, the latter's preview seemed more disappointing. It was like seeing Red Dawn all over again, with primary focus on the White House. The trailer showcased over-the-top action scenes, and it seemed so cliched it made Hollywood seem fallen. Yet, never judge a movie by its trailer. Some of the action scenes were overdone, but most of them were adrenaline-pumping. OHF has more pros than cons.
  One pro being the superb acting by the protagonist Gerald Butler. Although, he has proven himself before in 300 and Gamer, he did no less in OHF. Butler's action scenes were radiantly choreographed, and if it were a dramatic film, he could have been nominated for an Oscar. Butler plays Mike Banning, who was the lead Secret Service agent who heads the Presidential Detail. He is on good terms with the American President (played exquisitely by Aaron Eckhart) and his family. But things take a turn for the worst, when an accident forces Banning to save the President, but not the First Lady. 
  18 months later, Banning is seen working at the Treasury Department, and has been removed from the detail, due to President Asher being furious with him for not saving his wife. That day terrorists attack Washington with foremost force on the White House. The assault is led by a North Korean terrorist known as Kang Yeonasak (Rick Yune). A scene also shows an agent in the White House saying through the comm, ''Olympus Has Fallen'' before he is killed. The title refers to the Mount Olympus in Greek Mythology, where all the Major Gods resided. In the film, it Olympus refers to the White House, where the most powerful American politicians gather. 
  Morgan Freeman also has a main role as the Speaker of the House. It is well to note that in White House Down, the President is African-American, and the Speaker is Caucasian. The writers wanted to make sure there was a major plot difference by adding these distinctions.

(Best acting in OHF was by Gerard Butler. Source: Wikipedia)

  Olympus Has Fallen has cons though. Much of the feature feels like it copied inner White House scenes from the inaugural Die Hard. Though, without its humor that made Die Hard one of the best H-wood action pictures of all time. The comm scenes between Banning and the Yeonasak are entertaining though. Still, the ending is too predictable. Even the mid-scenes are forthcoming. Veteran action watchers will not be fully satisfied by this movie. And it has received mixed reviews from universal critics. 
  Still, OHF has enough kick-ass scenes for audiences to be eluded away from the cliches. It is a good photoplay, but in no way original, or worthy of entering a best-action movies list. Butler plays his character with every fiber of his being, and in some scenes his dialogue delivery is reminiscent of Bruce Willis in Die Hard - although, the dialogues not being referential at all. The conclusion of this movie battle will arrive after White House Down has been reviewed.

Olympus Has Fallen:
IMDb: 6.5/10.
Rotten Tomatoes: 48%.
BO101: 3/4.

(Source: Wikipedia)

You can see from the above poster, the blockbuster credits from director Roland Emmerich. Features like Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 are all disaster movies. White House Down itself is a disaster.
  When I watched the trailer for White House Down I loved it. It was showcased as a comedy-action movie, and Jamie Foxx is one of my favorite African-American actors. His scenes were the best in the trailer, and ended up the best in the entire flick. Yet, WHD was a global disappointment critically, financially and by my standards.

(Source: YouTube)


  The storyline follows John Cale (Channing Tatum) a US Capitol Police Officer assigned to the Speaker of the House Eli Raphelson (Richard Jenkins), who is struggling after an Afghanistan tour to develop a better relationship with his daughter Emily, played brilliantly by Joey King. Her acting was far better than Tatum's. She is also very intrigued by American politics. So both visit the White House for John Cale's interview for a Secret Service job opening. 
  But Cale does not get the job as Carol Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal) deduces that he is unqualified. Later on, the father and daughter duo are still inside the White House when it is attacked by terrorists. Of course, American press and armed forces basically believe it must be Koreans or AL Qaeda, but in fact, it is played out by retiring head of the Presidential Detail Martin Walker (James Woods). This is because he is infuriated with the fact that his son was killed in a mission conceived by President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx).
  Cale might have not gotten the employment, but he does a better job than the entire Secret Service in escorting the President inside the under-siege White House. A great scene is when Cale's daughter is hidden and shoots a video of some of the terrorists uploading it to YouTube. A major difference in the pair of movies is that in OHF, the President is taken hostage in the emergency bunker from the get-go, whilst in WHD, the President is with the hero from the initial time of the takeover.
  Jamie Foxx plays the President with a humor that makes the rest of the silver-screen seem dull. His scenes are awesome, but the rest of the cinematic is boring and predictable. The US Military is shown to be too stupid. The politicians outside the White House also seem unintelligent. The military does not even know how to negotiate with terrorists, and Walker is a mundane villain, unlike Keonasak in OHF. 
  A film where the villains are boring is just lame. Channing Tatum has averagely-choreographed fight scenes, and President Sawyer's antics with an RPG launcher were more entertaining than Cale's whole punching and kicking prowess. White House Down's uppermost flaw is that it does not know how to distinguish itself from a comedy-action flick, and as a serious political agenda. OHF was campaigned as a thriller and rightfully so. 
  The only saving grace of the film is Foxx. Tatum's acting is mediocre whilst King's is still above-average. The ending is super-predictable, and the whole flick beats OHF in terms of predictability. James Vanderbilt has written better visual-presentations such as The Rundown, The Losers and The Amazing Spider-Man. With White House Down his feat of stupefying screenplays seems to have run out. His next film is Robocop releasing early next month in the UAE, let's just hope it does not end up the same as White House Down, both by BO101 standards and commercially. And I will catch the flick in the theater.
  Olympus Has Fallen was a worldwide economic success, making $161m off a $70m budget. However, White House Down fared worse with a $205m global gross with a humongous production cost of $150m. So Tatum failed as both an actor and producer of the film. OHF is directed by African-American director Antoine Fuqua (Shooter, Brooklyn's Finest) and written by Creighton Rothenberger, along with wife Katrin Benedikt. They are also going to pen The Expendables 3 and London Has Fallen (the sequel to Olympus Has Fallen). All three main actors of OHF will appear in the sequel but with a new director, as the previous one is busy working on a film starring Denzel Washington. 
  In the end, Olympus Has Fallen was broadcast three months prior to White House Down, so maybe people weren't interested in watching a similarly-themed movie. Still, OHF deserves recognition, and can be watched 3 to 4 times by action junkies. WHD is a torture to be watched a single period. Fuqua might not be as highly a renowned director as Emmerich, but he won this round fair and square.

White House Down: 
IMDb: 6.4/10.
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%.
BO101: 2/4.