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Monday, March 25, 2013

Cindy Prascik’s Movie Review : The Croods / Olympus Has Fallen

Dearest Blog, yesterday I set out for the cinema, hoping two highly-anticipated offerings would meet expectations.
Spoiler level here is mild, limited to things you'd know from the trailers.

First on my agenda: DreamWorks Animation's The Croods.

A prehistoric family are forced to flee their cave after it's destroyed by a disaster that threatens to change their lives forever in this animated adventure featuring the voices of Nicolas Cage and Emma Stone. As a protective caveman father leads his family out of harm's way, the clan crosses paths with a resourceful teen named Guy (voice of Ryan Reynolds), who offers to help them reach a distant land where they'll be safe from an impending catastrophe that will soon alter the entire world. Catherine Keener, Clark Duke, and Cloris Leachman round out the cast of vocal performers. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Director: Kirk De Micco

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine Keener, Cloris Leachman.

Release Date: Mar 22, 2013

Rated PG for some scary action

Runtime: 1 hr. 31 min.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Animated, Family

Much to the dismay of a rebellious daughter (Emma Stone), the patriarch (Nicolas Cage) of a pre-historic family believes the only way to keep them safe is to stay within the dark and gloomy confines of their cave home. His theory, as well as his ability to protect his family, are put to the test when the cave is destroyed.

Not gonna lie, dear Blog, I have a ridiculous amount of faith in DreamWorks Animation. Think it's got something to do with How to Train Your Dragon being...oh...only the best animated feature ever. I'm pleased to report that, despite a sluggish start, The Croods does not find my faith misplaced.

The Croods looks magnificent. No words could possibly describe just how gorgeous this film is; you have to see it. I was moved to tears a time or two by its physical beauty alone. Take Oz: The Great and Powerful, and multiply that by about a hundred. Full marks to the artistic and technical staff.

If The Croods' father/daughter tale is a little familiar, and if you see some things coming a mile or so out, that's easy enough to forgive in such a sweet and genuine picture. The voice cast is spot-on, with Cage and Stone joined by Ryan Reynolds, Cloris Leachman, and Catherine Keener.

The Croods does start out somewhat slow, and for 20 minutes or so, I feared I had another Oz on my hands; that is, I'd be left loving the look and nothing else. Once it gets moving, though, the movie's filled with action, laugh-out-loud moments, and a sincere and touching family tale.

The Croods runs 98 minutes, and is rated PG for "some scary action." It's no How to Train Your Dragon, but, of a possible nine Weasleys, it easily earns seven.

Next up was the action/thriller Olympus Has Fallen.

An ex-Special Forces operative and former presidential bodyguard must fight to take back the White House from terrorists who have kidnapped the Commander in Chief in this high-stakes action thriller directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Shooter) and starring Gerard Butler. Melissa Leo, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, and Radha Mitchell co-star. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi
Director: Antoine Fuqua

Cast: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo.

Release Date: Mar 22, 2013 Rated R for Strong Violence and Language Throughout

Runtime: 2 hr. 0 min.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Suspense/Thriller

When terrorists overrun the White House, taking President Harvey Dent, erm, I mean Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his top staff hostage, it's left to Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), an ex-Secret Service agent, to save the President...and the nation.
Olympus Has Fallen is extremely well cast; every actor is a perfect fit for his role.

Aaron Eckhart is very leaderly as a young-ish Commander in Chief. Gerard Butler has never been a favorite of mine. I've softened considerably towards him since he became Stoic the Vast, but think I'm still holding a grudge over Phantom of the Opera!

Yet I found him surprisingly watchable in Olympus, and I think he plays the tormented hero well. Angela Bassett is a bit too hard-ass for my taste as Director of the Secret Service; for some reason, she seemed like a comical police chief on a 70s TV cop drama. My favorite actress and best girl crush Melissa Leo is as lovely and tough as ever as the Secretary of Defense.

Morgan Freeman makes a predictably solid turn as Speaker of the House, forced to take charge as both the President and Vice-President are in the terrorists' grasp. If I had to trust the world's safety to any one individual, I admit I'd be entirely comfortable if that individual were Morgan Freeman. The rest of the cast is up to snuff, the one exception being Radha Mitchell, whose teary-eyed close-ups got old pretty quickly.

Olympus Has Fallen features maximum carnage.

The body count is so extreme that even I grew tired of it, and it's not that sort-of cartoonish massacre you get with a GI Joe or super-hero movie.

As a result, any chest-thumping 'Murica! sentiment the filmmakers hoped to achieve is somewhat deflated. The effects are good, and the trashing of the White House and other DC landmarks is chillingly realistic.

Olympus Has Fallen clocks in at 120 minutes, and is rated R for "strong violence and language throughout." If I liked it less than I'd hoped, I attribute that partially to my feeling that nobody makes a Big Baddie quite like Russia did back in the day, and partially to the movie's having precious little of that feel-good cowboy vibe (think Die Hard) I kind of expected from the trailers.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, Olympus Has Fallen gets six.

Our next question, dear Blog, is how many cinema trips can one individual fit into a long weekend that also includes three home hockey games, a midday hair cut n' color, and one full day of enforced family time (ugh). Time will tell!

Until next time...

Is it twisted that I'd totally do this cartoon person??


  1. LOL on the cartoon person. Yeah, he is a good looking character. I'd love to see The Croods, but my mom has a thing for Gerard and so I am taking her to see Olympus. I think it can't be any worse than Executive Decision or Air Force 1.

    1. "Thanks again for reading! You (and your Mom!) will definitely enjoy Olympus, but sneak out and see The Croods, too, if you can. Totally worth seeing on the big screen! - Cindy P"

  2. I agree about "How to Train Your Dragon" is one of the best animated features ever. Second only to "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm", in my opinion. Even better than Pixar's films, to me at least.
    Olympus Has Fallen looks like it will be a lot of 90s action fun, plus Morgan Freeman makes everything better.


    1. "Thanks for reading James! I can't even tell you how much I love How to Trian your Dragon! Olympus is a lot of mindless fun - Cindy P."

  3. 2 very well written reviews, but they can't convince me checking these flicks out :P ;)

    1. The Croods I enjoyed but I am so disinterested in Olympus, Cindy seemed to like it though.


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