Knee-jerk review: "Olympus Has Fallen"

1. Our first movie in theaters in months... and we pick this one?
2. Preposterous, pretty much from top to bottom.
3. We enjoy a good cheesy B-movie as much as the next guy.  But don't insult our intelligence.  At least try, filmmakers, to sell it.  This movie asks the audience to buy several moments that are 100% implausible, illogical, and ridiculous.  They sink the whole thing.
4. The sexism is also pretty uncomfortable.  One female lead is stuck pining for the hero, another gets the hell beaten out of her, and the other exists solely to vet the hero.
5. What's with all of the gunshots and knives to heads?  Ick.  The older we get, the less we enjoy this kind of brutal violence.
6. To glibly say, "It's Die Hard in the White House" doesn't clearly underscore how often this movie hits Die Hard's narrative beats.  It's more ripoff than homage.  There's even the hero-meets-the-bad-guy-and-doesn't-know-it moment.
7. There's surely some political/cultural point to be made about how this movie renders the American military so hopelessly inept and impotent.  Is that how some of us feel deep down after the morass of Iraq and Afghanistan?  Is that somehow in the zeitgeist?
8. Cerbeus.  Really?  No way to change the codes on something so powerful, huh?  If you say so, Olympus Has Fallen.
9. No way does a four-star admiral cooperate like that.  No way.
10. We have a feeling this movie was made sort of cheap, so we were looking for the effects shots and corner-cutting, trying to figure out how they faked DC and White House in Ontario or North Carolina.  It all looks pretty good, though.
11. So the bad guy's entire plan hinges on a decision by the President that simply couldn't be 100% predicted.  That is, if the President makes choice B instead A, the movie's over at the end of act one.  Like we said, don't insult our intelligence.
12. If you're a smart computer hacker, you too apparently can sit at a classified, complicated multi-screen workstation and nimbly control all aspects of the White House.  Monitor video feeds, seal off air vents, connect to the Pentagon.  It's easier than Windows 8! 
13. We especially loved the moment where the bad guys somehow hit a couple of keys and pull up satellite images of aircraft carriers in the Pacific open.
14. Los Angeles aside: we met a drunk Robert Forster at a party once.  Nice guy.
15. We begrudgingly admit that Gerard Butler has some good lines.  But one quip left a bad taste in our mouth, given as it was amid a pile of dead Secret Service agents.
16. We kept trying to imagine Obama, Biden, and Hillary Clinton in a similar hostage situation.  What would they do with a gun to their head?  Would they cooperate or take a bullet for the country's greater good?  Can they take a beating?  Biden probably could.
17. We can't recall another recent movie with this high a body count.  Wow.
18. We're going to give Rick Yune the benefit of the doubt and say that we hated his dead-eyed bad-guy performance only because we hated the movie.  But man is he a boring one-note villain.  Zzzzz.
19. Several times, a TV news graphic in the movie spelled it "Whitehouse."  One word.  This is that kind of movie.
20. Hollywood needs to learn that the F-bomb packs its best punch when used sparingly and when saved for maximum moments of drama and tension.
21. Okay okay, yeah, there were some cool moments.  We did like some of the twists involving the bad guy's ultimate goal.
22. Overall, there's a smart, complex thriller to be made about how bad guys overrun the White House.  This one, unfortunately, isn't it.  Maybe this summer's White House Down will be it.  Yep.  Same premise.  It's Deep Impact/Armageddon all over again.  Or is it Volcano/Dante's Peak?


Attacking Echo Base

We've previously shared with you a crazy, in-depth look at the so-called "Endor Holocaust," an examination of the deadly consequences to inhabitants of Endor if a Death Star-sized moon exploded in its orbit as depicted in the final moments of Return of the Jedi.  Let's just say the Ewoks won't be celebrating for long.

And now comes a fascinating, detailed military examination of the Hoth battle from The Empire Strikes Back that looks at the poor combat strategy employed by Darth Vader and the Empire.  Genius.