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Olympus has Fallen Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Rick Yune, Dylan McDermott, Melissa Leo, Radha Mitchell, Robert Forster

Olympus Has Fallen: international terrorists have seized a building of importance, are holding the resident workers hostage, and issuing fake demands – meanwhile a wise-cracking, off-duty, security guy is taking them out one-by-one, communicating to a black guy outside. Wait, is that not identical to Die Hard?! Yes! Yes it is – there’s even a scene where a villain meets the hero and pretends to be a good guy – come awn Hollywood. Must. Try. Harder. The initial hostile takeover of the White House is a 15 minute onslaught of bullets, blood, brains, explosions, headshots, slumping bodies, flying limbs, and shaky-cam R-rated mayhem. It feels like an intense level of any FPS war game. Most of the remaining fights/deaths are gory enough to be from a Tarantino flick. The film is also ridiculously patriotic: deliberately baiting the audience by reveling in the Korean’s destruction of the Washington monument, white house, the stars and stripes, and more generally ‘freedom’. Could have saved time by simply having the Koreans piss on a M*A*S*H DVD box set. Most scenes feel like green-screen / GCI, especially when cheap-ass looking gun turrets, helicopters, explosions and the bullet-ridden american flag appear. Despite all of these downfalls the action is big, loud and above average. Butler is entertaining and there’s a lot more laughs than your typical disaster film. Given that the real North Korea are kicking up a fuss at the moment, it’s also far more relevant than the Ruskies / Chinese standard baddies. Overall, Olympus has Fallen is a fairly entertaining Red-invasion B-Movie with A-budget and A-cast, however it also happens to be wrought with scenes, characters and twists you’ve seen a hundred times before.

Score: 5/10

Dark Knight Trilogy Batman Begins The Dark Knight The Dark Knight RisesWhat makes a movie going experience unique? In the age of Blu Rays / high-definition torrents, and bargainous HDTVs / home cinema kits it’s becoming easier and more affordable to get a totally immersive film-viewing experience at home. To combat this and keep the footfall in the foyers cinemas are having to go above and beyond the standard experience. My local independent – Aberdeen’s cherished ‘Belmont Cinema‘ – has just screened back-to-back showings of the Dark Knight trilogy (all 7hrs 34min!), and although you can pick up the box set for under £30, the event was packed full of things that no amount of money or equipment can replicate.

The Dark Knight Trology Cast Harvey Dent Bane Gordon Ra's al Ghul Batman Catwoman Scarecrow JokerWith films this big there’s absolutely no denying that they’re best viewed in a proper auditorium. Christopher Nolan’s unmistakable eye-opening wide-angle style which is intentionally shot on celluloid for maximum effect; Wally Pfister’s I-MAX cinematography, Hanz Zimmer‘s deep brassy orchestrated scores, the pounding sound effects & sound editing, million dollar stunts, props and CGI… Sure, they all look fantastic on Blu Ray, but when you see them thrown up on a cinema screen and pumped out through a Dolby SR amp/speaker kit – the effect is nothing short of phenomenal.

DARK KNIGHT COSPLAY COSTUMES, CATWOMAN BATMAN, BRUCE WAYNE, Selina Kyle, The Cat

Batman and Catwoman: guardians of… the auditorium!

Beyond mere technical details there was an atmosphere in the theater that you don’t see often, and definitely couldn’t replicate at home: staff and punters dressing up as their favourite characters from the series (and further back down the Batman franchise), hardcore comic fans ‘nerding out’ in the foyers, people shouting out the big lines of dialogue – and particularly in the first two movies – there’s a lot of humour that really falls flat when you watch it on your own.

Add to this that the staff had gone out of their way to ‘make a day of it’, including an in-character Batman – with the voice – for the duration, special food/drinks promos, cosplay competition, a riddler quiz with awesome prizes, and giving everyone a goodie bag on the way out – it really did make the experience feel unique, and elevated it far beyond the scope of any regular visit to the movies. It also made the 1pm-10pm shift fly by.

DARK KNIGHT COSPLAY COSTUMES, THE JOKER, POISON IVY, HARLEY QUINN, Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, Dr. Pamela Lillian IsleyI believe that the variety and novelty of screenings and events like this will become a larger part of remaining cinema’s revenue, and Aberdeen’s Belmont Cinema is putting a lot of effort in to such programming. At Christmas there was a festive Die Hard screening, a 90s Action Classics season has just wrapped up (Matrix, Total, Recall Con-Air…) and coming up there’s a special screening of the notorious ‘The Room‘, a Wes Anderson retrospective, and one-off re-releases of cult cinema favourites such as The Princess Bride and the ABCs of Death – to name but a few!

Seeing the films together in one sitting also helps pull the story together, with a lot of detail slipping through the cracks of the three, and four year gaps in theatrical releases. More than anything, it’s a glowing testament to Nolan as a director: he has made three very individual, stand-alone movies that will appeal to general punters, whilst having enough detail and plot threads to make them a proper trilogy, AND appease hardened Batman fanboys.

DARK KNIGHT COSPLAY COSTUMES The Joker, Harley Quinn, Henri Ducard, Ra's al Ghul, Catwoman, Batman The Riddler, Robin

The staff really made the day, and led by example with their awesome costumes.

REVIEWS

Batman Begins (Review) – perhaps a little harsh on it, but the one that benefited the most from a proper theatrical viewing. It’s funnier with a crowd, and the ‘filler’ is more necessary when viewed as part of the entire trilogy. Overall, it’s an interesting examination of fear – last-minute cameo from Katie Holme’s nipples. Trilogy score: 7/10

The Dark Knight (Review) – the closest thing to a Bond film that Nolan has done. Travel, big stunts, cooler gadgets (and quips about them), peril, awesome villain – it feels in parts like Nolan was using this as a CV. SOMEONE PLEASE LET HIM DIRECT A BOND FILM!! Still awesome. Trilogy Score: 8.5/10

The Dark Knight Rises (Review) – less action, and a whole lot of plot to wrap up the trilogy. Still massive voice issues with Bane – I think my biggest gripe is that unlike the other sound like their being recorded on set, Bane’s booms from all speakers – giving him a bizarre omnipotence. The tone and accent are far too silly for such a bad badass. Still, great way to cap off one of cinema’s best Trilogies. Trilogy Score: 7.5/10

Battle: Los Angeles – Aliens have come to invade our planet, and of all the cities in the world, we totally can’t lose LA!!! Hang on a second, I think I’ve seen something like this recently… There’s one simple thing would have made this better – a tripod. You spend around 80% of the time having no idea of what was going on other than ‘shit is being blown up’ and ‘it’s been filmed on shaky cam’. It’s more of a war film than any other invasion movie, made apparent by the film being propped up with the aid of every single war cliche you can think of. The music was a big miss, with ultra generic music – particularly the bursting-with-pride-and-sentiment soliloquies. Speaking of which, these solders are so amazing that it feels a bit like it could have been funded by Marines, and aimed at Marines. Just when you think it couldn’t get any more like a film you’ve seen before WHAM – Michelle Rodriguez pops up as a female soldier. For all the wrongs in Battle LA, you do have to see this in a cinema, but only because it’s so big, flashy and loud. The bottom line here is that Battle LA is Skyline, but with a bigger budget and MARINES instead of civilians.

Score: 2/10

The Dark Knight: (Blu Ray) Opens up with one of the best bank jobs in history and almost everything going forward is first class; especially the story, enemies, drama and action – it’s all just so epic. Heath Ledger’s absolutely on fire as the anarchist Joker, genuinely looking insane – watching his lips, tongue and ticks should freak anyone out – and he nails the offbeat humour with conviction to spare. Bale continues to make Bruce/Batman believable as the human-turn-superhero. Katie Holmes magically transforms into Maggie Gyllenhaal; no complaints from this reviewer. Eckhart’s great, despite only being able to half-act in the last hour. Lt. Gordon wins my ‘Worst husband ever’ award, no contest. Downsides: it’s a tad long and has lots crammed in (the last half hour could have been in a third movie, and a great posthumous send-off to Ledger?), Batman’s voice is ridiculous and Two-Face / Dawes / Scarecrow don’t get nearly enough screen time. The picture’s great with fantastic detail and stunning aerial shots, but once again the bombastic sound dominates the disc – every gunshot, explosion & Batmobile ride rocks you to the bone. The constant thrills and spills topped off with slick visuals and a great cast make The Dark Knight far superior to the strung-out character study of Wayne that was ‘Batman Begins’. With a final movie just being announced I’m drooling at the prospect, although I don’t fancy the chances of it topping this.

Score: 8/10

Conversation(s) with Other Women: Two people meet at a wedding and spend the night talking, loads. For being dialogue driven the script really shines, making the film interesting to watch, slowly unravelling aspects of each character. The entire film’s in split screen, which is a great concept and is well utilised. It takes a few scenes to get used to but helps the film flow with a great rhythm – and allows you get the unbroken present story and additional info from the past, present or future. There’s two utterly believable performances of tainted middle-agers on display and although Aaron Eckhart’s always been a favourite, I never really rated Helena Bonham Carter until I saw this. The wedding cameraman is a memorable minor character, the first lift scene is entertaining and this flick can boast the best use of Rilo Kiley in a movie to date. I haven’t gone from ‘skeptical’ to ‘loving it’ whilst watching a film in a long time. It’s smart, witty and sophisticated, particularly given how crud most similar movies end up being.

Score: 8/10