[caption id="attachment_169697" align="alignleft" width="300"] FilmDistrict[/caption]
This week: Saving the president, reclaiming the White House and averting a global nuclear war is all in a day's work for Gerard Butler in the action flick "Olympus Has Fallen," starring Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Aaron Eckhart and many more patriots in peril.
Also new this week is the horror sequel "Hatchet III" featuring some genre veterans, the rom-com "The Big Wedding" with a huge ensemble cast," and the Blu-ray debut of the original "The Muppet Movie."
'Olympus Has Fallen'
[caption id="attachment_203314" align="alignright" width="220"] Sony[/caption]
Box Office: $99 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 48% Rotten
Storyline: Disgraced former presidential guard Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) moves into action after the White House is captured by a North Korean terrorist mastermind and the President (Aaron Eckhart) and some of his staff are held captive. As the national security team scrambles to respond and the Secret Service ground team is wiped out, it's up to Banning to retake the White House, evacuate the President's son and save the President's life to avert a global nuclear war. Morgan Freeman, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Ashley Judd, Dylan McDermott, Robert Forster, Radha Mitchell and Rick Yune co-star.
Extras!: Exclusive to the Blu-ray edition are bloopers, a making-of documentary, "Creating the Action: Special Effects & Design," "The Epic Ensemble," "Deconstructing the Black Hawk Sequence" and "Ground Combat: Fighting the Terrorists."
We Say: Of the two movies made this year about the White House under attack (the other being "White House Down"), "Olympus Has Fallen" is the rated-R flick that will satisfy the needs of true action junkies. Butler ably steps into the role of a man trying to prove his worth (a parallel to the actor's string of terrible rom-com roles?), and it's great to see Freeman and Bassett keep their trademark cool under extreme pressure. Sure, there's nothing particularly novel here and the North Koreans are, per usual, the go-to moustache-twirling villains, but "Olympus Has Fallen" will have you cheering for Butler to tear through them anyway and rescue the President.
[caption id="attachment_203312" align="alignright" width="220"] Dark Sky[/caption]
Box Office: N/A
Rotten Tomatoes: 58% Rotten
Storyline: This blood-soaked conclusion to the "Hatchet" horror trilogy has the vengeful Marybeth (Danielle Harris), a local policeman (Zach Galligan) and his ex-wife (Caroline Williams) teaming up to uncover the secret of killing the seemingly unstoppable Louisiana swamp maniac Victor Crowley (Kane Hodder).
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray have two separate commentary tracks with cast and crew and three behind-the-scenes/ making-of featurettes.
We Say: If you're a fan of the classic slasher films of the '80s, you'll want to check out this gory finale to the "Hatchet" trilogy that brings together genre vets like Harris (the "Halloween" series), Galligan ("Gremlins"), Williams ("The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2"), Sid Haig ("The Devil's Rejects") and Hodder (the "Friday the 13th" series). The disc is "uncut and unrated," and the packaging isn't kidding. Wear an apron … there will be splatter.
'The Big Wedding'
[caption id="attachment_203311" align="alignright" width="220"] The Big Wedding[/caption]
Box Office: $22 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 7% Rotten
Storyline: A long-divorced couple (Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton) are forced to play the happy couple for the sake of their adopted son's wedding after his ultraconservative biological mother unexpectedly decides to fly halfway across the world to attend. This R-rated rom-com also stars Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace, Susan Sarandon and Robin Williams.
Extras!: Both the DVD and Blu-ray contain the "Coordinating 'The Big Wedding'" making-of featurette.
We Say: This desperate attempt at laughs never elicits any. Instead, viewers are tortured into watching some of their favorite actors embarrass themselves for paychecks, which will make you think twice about checking out their next movies. If you still think De Niro has some "Taxi Driver"-level work in him or that Diane Keaton is more than just "Annie Hall," steer clear of this nuptials nonsense.
'The Muppet Movie' Nearly 35th Anniversary Blu-ray
[caption id="attachment_203313" align="alignright" width="220"] Disney[/caption]
Box Office: $65 million
Rotten Tomatoes: 90% Fresh
Storyline: From Kermit the Frog's first pluck of the banjo playing the Oscar-nominated "The Rainbow Connection" in this 1979 movie about how he and Fozzie, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, Animal and the gang traveled to Hollywood with dreams of stardom, audiences started a decades-long love affair with Jim Henson's lovable creations. This original classic features a slew of big-name cameos by Milton Berle, Mel Brooks, Bob Hope, Madeline Kahn, Carol Kane, Steve Martin, Richard Pryor, Orson Welles, Paul Williams and more.
Extras!: This Blu-ray debut has director "Jim Frawley's Extended Camera Test," which features some hilarious never-before-seen footage. Also included are a "Frog-E-Oke Sing-Along," "Doc Hopper's Commercial," "Classic Bonus: Pepe Profiles Present Kermit — A Frog's Life."
We Say: Rewatching this musical family flick today, it's fun to wonder how a movie that features drinking, smoking, inter-species romance and chicken love snuck by the MPAA with a "General Audiences" rating, but the '70s were, you know, a tad different. Regardless of its rating, "The Muppet Movie" Blu-ray will still delight Henson "lovers and dreamers" of all ages with a gorgeously cleaned-up transfer that makes all previous editions look like they were coated in the swamp water from which Kermit escaped.
Also New This Week:
"What Maisie Knew"
"The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec"