Whereas the book is a thoughtful assemblage of anecdotal observations on our entire species undergoing a putative extinction event the movie is nothing more then a usual Hollywood crash-bang-wallop affair. Gone are the stumbling, moaning effigies of ex-humans; the 'it' zombies of today now sprint like Usain Bolt and bite like Luiz Suarez. They can also pile up on top of each other to scale what appears to be a 100 foot wall in a scene that appears to be a subliminal play on western fears of unbridled immigration. I'm not a fan of the horror genre myself but then all I had to do was to remind myself that Brad Pitt cannot die (as he is after all, Brad Pitt) and nothing in this movie seemed all that scary. On the contrary, if only the powers that be actually gave the Z's some lines to speak they might end up...well, let's not go there shall we.
The portentous sounding "Olympus Has Fallen" does not involve aliens, more's the pity, instead we get the bargain basement villain of the era, namely the North Koreans. Given previous successful assassination attempts on South Korean leaders the plot is not as far fetched as it seems but taking over the White House? If Kim Jong Un is that desperate for a decent hair cut why not just have his minions kidnap a barber and smuggle them into the good ole' DPRK. Gerard Butler is excellently cast as he fires about 100 bullets for every word spoken and stand-in president Morgan Freeman has got his "I speak your weight" machine impression off pat. The action scenes are terrific but this offering has a definite production line feel to it.
This Cruise vehicle is essentially a large assemblage of ideas filched from many Sci. Fi. classics and cobbled together to form a monotonous and predictable story. The special effects are top notch but this movie seems to have no depth. The main character tears about the place with a determination and vitality that the picture itself lacks. There was a time when Cruise could do this sort of thing with his eyes closed but on this performance he looks increasingly like yesterday's man. It struck me half way through that Dr. Who would have made a better gist of it - also, Morgan Freeman collects the cheque.
Though ponderous and meandering at times the quality of the acting in this movie is self-evident, to use an apposite phrase. The brief depictions of the civil war conflict are stark and the story bends the gubernatorial chicanery of high politics around the President's determined campaign to constitutionally end slavery once and for all. Daniel Day Lewis is a revelation, as always, and this is another of his milestone performances. The movie's creators were painfully aware that this is a treatise on an American icon of the first rank and therefore the morality of the man's struggle is laid on thick. Perhaps a tad overlong but my interest was retained to the end. Superb.
Another trawl through the Massachusetts urban wilderness of Wahlberg's youth, this time he plays a small time boxer who surmounts the odds and wins a shot at one of the plethora of world titles available at most weights these days. It's gritty and realistic although Christian Bale doesn't quite pull off the Bostonian crack head brother and the dysfunctional family is a little contrived. A good effort nonetheless but tellingly the theme tune for Rocky kept going through my head.