“Olympus Has Fallen' — the first and more successful of the two movies about terrorists taking over the White House — is noisy, chaotic and ultimately silly. Having seen “White House Down' since, it's hard to remember or care who is who amid all the explosions in the two films.
In this one, our good guy is played by Gerald Butler, a veteran Secret Service agent named Mike Banning, and friend of the President (Aaron Eckhart). After a screw-up, which of course wasn't really his fault, Mike has been dropped from the starting team. But it just so happens that he's in the area when 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue comes under attack by a North Korean terrorist (Rick Yune) and his gang of well-armed thugs.
As the chief executive and his secretary of defense (Melissa Leo) are held hostage in a bunker beneath the White House, Banning somehow infiltrates the place and tries to find a way to free the prisoners and save the president's son who has gone undetected by the bad guys. Meanwhile, away from the battle, Angela Bassett, Morgan Freeman and Robert Forster play government officials who huff and puff and explore nuclear options.
If you don't mind dumb, pseudo-patriotic movies with pounding action, “Olympus Has Fallen' — directed by Antoine Fuqua — will do.
While not resembling him physically, Tommy Lee Jones very much seems to epitomize the iconic Gen. Douglas MacArthur in “Emperor,' British director Peter Webber's slightly fictionalized story of the American military officer's rule in Japan just after World War II.
MacArthur's mission was to help turn the conquered country, which had been ruled by the emperor and group of generals, into a democracy while deciding who should be punished for war crimes. Much of the tale is told through MacArthur's right-hand man, Gen. Bonner Fellers (Matthew Fox of “Lost'). Fellers is charged with determining whether Emperor Hirohito, who was regarded as a god by his people, should be prosecuted for approving the bombing of Pearl Harbor, or if he had been pressured by the military. If convicted and executed, his death could trigger insurrection, creating unrest in the region.
All of that might be interesting enough, but British director Peter Webber weaves what is likely a fictional love story between Fellers and a Japanese woman. Perhaps that was because historically, we know what happens. Nevertheless, it's a fascinating little-told part of history, and Jones' performance as MacArthur — who was also eying the presidency at the time — really resonates in “Emperor.'
Filmmaker Luc Besson draws from the Jacques Tardi comic book series to create “The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec,' a tale of an Indiana Jones-style adventuress in the early 1900s. It's a lightweight movie, often over the top, but mostly fun.
If you're looking for more interesting women, four TV box-sets offer very different female perspectives.
ABC's “Once Upon A Time: The Complete Second Season,' HBO's “Girls: The Complete Second Season,' HBO's “Enlightened: The Complete Second Season' and Fox's “The Mindy Project: Season One' probably couldn't be more different, but each of the series is interesting and entertaining in its own way.