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Is the 2010 Remake of The Crazies Better Than the Original?

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Life moves at a different pace in Ogden Marsh, Iowa.  That is, until a downed military airplane carrying a to-be-decommissioned biological weapon crashes and contaminates the water supply.  Soon after, the once neighborly population begins tearing itself apart.

The 2010 Breck Eisner remake of George A. Romero‘s The Crazies lends itself well to modernization.  In a world where everything can be monitored, tracked, and analyzed from a safe distance, Big Brother has never been more omnipotent or terrifying as when the US military rolls into the sleepy town of Ogden Marsh and starts detaining its population.

tc_1Starring Radha Mitchell and Timothy Olyphant as husband and wife, David and Judy, The Crazies is an intimate horror film that begins innocuously enough on a Spring day and then quickly unravels over the course of a nightmarish, chaotic 3-day period.

The Crazies is relentless and terrifying on personal, psychological, and primal levels.  The filmmakers practically use every technique in their toolkit to bring the fear to the audience – they confine the characters, they confuse them, they challenge them, they put them in death’s grip time and again.  All the while, always giving them (and you) the sick hope of being saved.

It is truly depraved … and delicious storytelling.

While this is done in other films, to greater extent, The Crazies holds back just enough to keep the plot moving at a steady (and interesting) pace without overly fatiguingtc_2 the viewer with a bunch of shock and awe.  Don’t worry, there’s plenty of gore, and shock, and awe, but never at the expense of maintaining a solid storyline.

What I like about The Crazies is the lack of information the viewer really has about what’s happening, who’s infected, and who’s to blame.  Is the toxin airborne, is it blood borne, can you only contract it if you drink the water?  And really, when it happens, you know it’s over.  At least, for them.  The sense of dread is imminent and terrifically inescapable – as the final moments of the film will reveal.

Add to this the intimacy of the small town setting and you have a great character drama, something refreshing, and uniquely uplifting, for a film in the genre.

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Trailer:

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Don’t Fall for Olympus Has Fallen

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What would happen if terrorists were able to do the unthinkable, the seemingly impossible, and take down the White House?  That’s the question posed in director Antoine Fuqua‘s (Training Day) film Olympus Has Fallen.

Olympus Has Fallen sports a sterling ensemble cast with Gerard Butler as Mike Banning, Aaron Eckhart as President Asher, Morgan Freeman as Speaker of the House Trumbull, Angela Bassett as Lynne Jacobs (head of the Secret Service), Melissa Leo as Defense Secretary McMillan, Radha Mitchell as Leah Banning, and Dylan McDermott as Dave Forbes.

The one thing Olympus Has Fallen has working for it is its cast.  I’m not going to lie, I’m always going to go see a Morgan Freeman film.  Adding Radha Mitchell and Dylan McDermott to the mix is only ensuring I’ll see that film over its opening weekend.

I’m not crazy about the plot of Olympus Has Fallen or the insane and pointless amount of violence that goes beyond the gratuitous into its own special realm of WTF.  I’m also not crazy about the fact that one man, against insurmountable odds, is able to neutralize what our entire military force cannot.  I think beyond being ludicrous, it sets a sort of unbelievable Die-Hard-esque bar that, well, frankly, has been done before … by Die Hard … and done better, at that.

Everything about Olympus Has Fallen wants you to be a patriot, as if the simple, lazy act of sitting in a darkened room watching a film for 2 hours is done in service to your country.  But I’m not buying.

I hated the score – with it’s sweeping orchestral false majesty.  I hated the premise.  I hated the action – so much, so fast that it hinders the plot instead of serving it by raising the stakes and therefore building tension.  I hated the good guys.  I hated the bad guys. I hated Melissa Leo reciting the pledge of allegiance while being dragged down the hall by terrorists.

I mean … seriously?

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Did I miss the swag giveaway for opening weekend?  Which, I’m assuming, was an Olympus Has Fallen logo-emblazoned barf bag.

Look.  I love action films.  Give me John Woo, Richard Donner, Sam Raimi.  Hell, I’ll even take James Cameron.  Director Antoine Fuqua seems to have forgotten that action serves a purpose, it has meaning, and can even be beautiful (in its own way).  It’s not meant to beat the audience over the head until they are numb to even the most spectacular stunt.

The brainless blood bath that is Olympus Has Fallen fails to entertain or excite.  There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before and, sadly, it’s another in a growing line of disappointing outings for Gerard Butler.

Official site: Olympus Has Fallen

Not even the legendary Malcolm McDowell can save you from “Silent Hill: Revelation”

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