News Column

DVD reviews: 'Olympus has Fallen,' 'What Maisie Knew' and 'The Company You Keep' [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)]

August 14, 2013


"Olympus has Fallen" (2013, R, 119 min., $30.99) It turns out the Republicans aren't landing the biggest shots on the White House this summer. Actually, it's Hollywood. The president's home has been destroyed twice in action flicks, with "Olympus has Fallen" landing before "White House Down." Starring Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart and Morgan Freeman in lead roles, "Olympus" has garnered more praise. Directed by Pittsburgh native Antoine Fuqua, "Olympus" owes its entertainment value to cranked-up action sequences and lots of fun dialogue. Fuqua's film won't win Oscars at the end of the year, but it's fun to watch. Butler is in the main role of a disgraced Secret Service agent who finds himself trapped in the White House after a terrorist takeover. The rest of the storyline is easy enough to predict.

"The Company You Keep" (2012, R, 121 min., $30.99) Still working hard in his 70s, Robert Redford does double duty as director and star for "The Company you Keep," a thriller that moves slowly under steady direction. It's based on a 2003 novel of the same name from Neil Gordon. Redford plays Nick Sloan, a militant from the 1960s who's wanted for robbing a bank and killing a security guard. Since the crime, Sloan has changed his identity and lived a quiet life in New York as a lawyer. When an arrest of one of his accomplices leads the FBI to him, Nick goes on the run in an attempt to clear his name one last time. Redford's latest has no real sense of urgency and there are some holes, but those are the only complaints. A talented cast -- Shia LaBeouf, Terrence Howard, Chris Cooper and Susan Sarandon -- does some good work in an entertaining pic that also has Pittsburgh's own Jackie Evancho making an impressive big-screen debut.

"What Maisie Knew" (2012, R, 98 min., $28.99) Legendary author Henry James' 1897 novel of the same name is set in modern-day New York City for this emotional drama from filmmakers Scott McGehee and David Siegel. Starring Julianne Moore, Alexander Skarsgard, Steve Coogan and Onata Aprile -- an impressive 8-year-old actress with a bright future -- the picture has a married couple (Coogan and Moore) going through a divorce and trying to establish custody of their child Maisie (Aprile). Unfortunately, both parents are more interested in their careers, and Maisie gets pushed off to their new significant others, Lincoln (Skarsgard) and Margo (Joanna Vanderham) Maisie begins bonding with Lincoln and Margo, and the three of them begin hanging out together. The relationships form a foundation for Maisie, leaving her parents out of the mix. Undoubtedly one of the strongest pictures of 2013, "What Maisie Knew" is a movie that will rumble around a viewer's head for days. It's a remarkable drama that should get some attention when the award talk kicks off.

"Emperor" (2012, PG-13, 105 min., $19.98) Tommy Lee Jones delivers a standout performance in the role of Gen. Douglas McArthur in this film from director Peter Webber about the tough decision on Japanese Emperor Hirohito's fate at the end of World War II. Matthew Fox stars as Gen. Bonner Fellers.

"The Big Wedding" (2013, R, 89 min., $19.98) A remarkable cast -- Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried, Topher Grace and Robin Williams -- is available for this comedic romp that finds a dysfunctional family trying to play nice for a weekend wedding that's heading toward disaster.

"Reality" (2012, R, 116 min., $32.99) Filmmaker Matteo Garrone, the director behind the 2008 mafia masterpiece "Gomorrah," takes on reality shows in this picture about an Italian family man who becomes obsessed landing on the show "Big Brother." As a result, Luciano heads into a world of paranoia that will be hard to get out.

"My Amityville Horror" (2012, NR, 88 min., $24.98) Fans of the groundbreaking 1979 horror film "The Amityville Horror" will find plenty in this interesting documentary from director Eric Walter. Daniel Lutz, an eyewitness to the chilly haunting that motivated the making of the motion picture, opens up, for the first time, to tell the real story.

"Dog Pound" (2010, NR, 88 min., $26.95) A big winner on the festival circuit, this powerful drama from director Kim Chapiron follows a handful of juveniles as they move through the ups and downs of the justice system. Eventually, the teens end up in a correctional center in Montana, where the daily struggle sometimes involves violence.

"Antiviral" (2012, NR, 108 min., $24.98) Brandon Cronenberg, the son of renowned director David Cronenberg, makes his directorial debut with this futuristic tale about a clinic that harvests live viruses from sick celebrities to sell to obsessed fans. When one of the employees injects himself with a new, exotic disease, the trouble starts.

-- Garrett Conti, Tribune-Review

"Cat. 8" (2013, NR, 176 min., $19.97) Matthew Modine stars in this weather-centered miniseries that originally aired on television. Armageddon is unleashed on Earth after a government experiment to harvest energy from the sun backfires.


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