Lightning Review: White House Down

White House Down movie posterSynopsis
John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a Capitol Policeman and Afghanistan veteran who is applying to be in the secret service. After the interview, he takes his daughter on a tour of the White House. During the tour, the White House is attacked by a group of mercenaries trying to kidnap the President (Jamie Foxx). Cale manages to elude the terrorists and goes to search for his daughter (Joey King).

Review
White House Down works best if you go in with the mindset of accepting the absurd. The plot is just ridiculous; Each new twist is more silly that the last. It is riddled with cliches and tries to act as a call back to the cheesy action movies of the 80s. At the very least, it is aware of this and isn’t afraid to poke fun at the absurdity of itself. There are many funny moments throughout the film and Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx each get their fair share of one-liners, which are hit or miss. However, some of best bits come when those two are bantering back and forth. I was hoping that given the cast (Tatum, Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods), director and writer (James Vanderbilt also wrote The Amazing Spider-Man) that it would have turned out better. As long as you go into White House Down understanding it is nowhere near Emmerich’s best film and expect a lot of cheesy dialogue, the action, one-liners and buddy-cop-like chemistry between Tatum and Foxx make it more enjoyable than it otherwise would be.
 

Rating
3/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Roland Emmerich – Director
James Vanderbilt – Writer
Harald Kloser – Composer
Thomas Wanker – Composer

Channing Tatum – John Cale
Jamie Foxx – President James Sawyer
Maggie Gyllenhaal – Carol Finnerty
Jason Clarke – Emil Stenz
Richard Jenkins – Raphelson
Joey King – Emily Cale
James Woods – Martin Walker
Nicolas Wright – Donnie Donaldson
Jimmi Simpson – Skip Tyler
Michael Murphy – Vice President Alvin Hammond
Rachelle Lefevre – Melanie
Lance Reddick – General Caulfield
Matt Craven – Agent Kellerman

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The Dark Knight Review

The Dark Knight mo vie posterSynopsis
One year after Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) started fighting Gotham City’s criminal underworld as Batman, a new menace has surfaced. The Joker (Heath Ledger) is bent on spreading chaos throughout the city. Working with Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and the new district attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman must bring down the Joker before he brings all of Gotham to its knees.

Review
Batman Begins gave us a strong Batman origin story. The casting was spot-on, the story was great, and the characters were well fleshed out. All of these aspects carry over into The Dark Knight and add some new cast members that are just as on-point as the returning cast. The Dark Knight is darker and grittier than its predecessor, and triumphs not just as a great superhero film, but as a cinematic masterpiece.

Heath Ledger received a ton of flack when he was announced as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Now it’s hard to envision anyone else in the role. Ledger completely embodied the Joker, from his voice to the character’s mannerisms, including freaky body twitches and lip licking. It looks like the Joker is barely on the edge of maintaining his sanity, and it’s all feels real. This is without a doubt my favorite portrayal of the character.

One noticeable difference is Rachael Dawes is played by Maggie Gyllenhaal this time around, instead of Katie Holmes. Holmes turned down the role due to scheduling conflicts with Mad Money. As I said in my Batman Begins review, Holmes wasn’t awful, her performance just wasn’t as strong as the cast around her. Gyllenhaal, on the other hand, has no problem standing toe-to-toe with the likes of Bale, Ledger, and Michael Cane. She also does well bring across the emotion necessary for some of her more dramatic moments. As much as I don’t like to see cast changes in the middle of franchises, this one was probably for the better.

We didn’t get to see much of the detective part of the “World’s Greatest Detective” in Batman Begins, but we do this outing. Wayne uses his skills and resources to find the Joker’s hideout. It was only a few, short sequences, but it was nice they acknowledged that side of Batman since often it’s neglected in favor of action.

The Dark Knight has a long running time, but it doesn’t feel like it at all. Part of the long running time is due to the focus on two villains. Unlike most movies that try to focus on more than one antagonist, this film does not feel claustrophobic. It does extremely well balancing both Joker and Two-Face, who comes in about halfway through the movie. Although it is two and a half hours, it moves along at a quick pace, while still developing the character of Bruce Wayne and the supporting cast.

Not only is The Dark Knight one of my favorite comic book movies, but it is one of my favorites of all time. With superb casting, great balance of characters and character development, not to mention great action, it is hard not to love this movie.

Rating
5/5

For the rest of The Dark Knight trilogy, check out my reviews for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises.