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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

One Weekend, Two Very Different Movie Experiences. (Olympus Has Fallen, The Place Beyond the Pines)

This weekend I saw two films. For those of you who are thinking it’s the Omer, yes that is true, but I have asked my Rabbi and been given the ok. So I saw two films. One hand I saw Olympus Has Fallen: a high octane action flick with Gerard Butler playing a secret service agent who must fight off hundreds of Koreans after they take the White House and the President (Aaron Eckhart) hostage. The other film was The Place Beyond The Pines, an artsy film about a Bank robbing motorcyclist (Ryan Gosling) and the cop (Bradley Cooper) who tries to stop him.

What I Expected
On the surface these films just scream two extreme opposites. On one hand, Olympus Has Fallen screams cheesy action flick. With the plot of the White House falling into enemy hands and one man with the help of the interim President (Morgan Freeman) killing all the bad guys, I expected nothing more than an entertaining film. On the flip side, The Place Beyond the Pines was screaming Oscars. With highly acclaimed director Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) behind the wheel and Oscar nominated actors behind it, this was a sure hit. With some of the artsy feel of the very good Driven and the action innate to a bank robber film, I was expecting the world from this film.

What I Got
Simply put, Olympus has Fallen was an awesome film. With insanely good action, and surprisingly good acting, the film had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Despite the likelihood of one man dodging every bullet, the film was surprisingly realistic taking into consideration the plot of the film. The takeover of the White House felt very real. The action is awesome, detailed and some of the best and most realistic fight scenes I have seen in quite some time.  Warning, the film is very gory and holds nothing back. This film is not one for the faint of heart. There is even a tint of humor in the film that adds some great breaks from the non-stop violence. After the horrific events in Boston this past week, the audience erupted in a clap at the end, and just a spoiler, USA comes out on top.
To say that I was disappointed in The Place Beyond the Pines is an understatement. People actually walked out of the theater and I found myself asking for the film to end. As always Bradley Cooper was great and Ryan Gosling was electrifying; but sometimes, good acting can’t save a bad film. The film was too artsy for its own good. It tried too hard to teach me a lesson. I don’t want to know when I am being given a message; I just want to get it. The film is oddly paced, split into almost three different stories, the last of which could have easily been cut out of the film and I would have never have noticed.  Had it kept the film to parts 1 and 2, I would have enjoyed/liked the film but not had many gripes with it. However, the last 3rd of the film is so absurd, predictable and poorly done, I almost forgot how decent the first parts were.

Olympus Has Fallen
Sex: None
Violence: One of the gorier films you will ever see.
Language: plenty of cursing
Rated: R
Run time: 120 min
Grade: 4 Stars

The Place Beyond The Pines
Sex: Some sexual references
Violence: Some violence and punching.
Language: plenty of cursing
Rated: R
Run time: 140 min
Grade: 2 Stars

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