Action fans have been crying out to Hollywood for years to deliver something as gritty, heartfelt, and rip-roaring as 1988's Die Hard. Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Shooter) has heard those calls and responded with Olympus Has Fallen, a close quarters, man-vs.-an-army thriller that gets it mostly right, thanks to star Gerard Butler's mix of swagger and innate brutality. Why it can't live up to Die Hard (what could?) is in the sensationalism of the scenario: in this version, an office building is the White House, the maniacal Hans Gruber replaced by an endless force of North Koreans bent on America's destruction. Fuqua makes the stealthy techniques of Butler's Agent Mike Banning exhilarating, but pads it with blockbuster-sized bookends and more bloodshed than your typical Saw flick. Think of Olympus Has Fallen as Die Too Hard.
After a routine mission goes horribly wrong, Secret Service agent Banning is relieved of his position as head of security for President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart). Years after the debacle, Banning finds himself thrown back into action when a group of North Korean terrorists strike D.C., hitting the White House from every direction. The introductory mayhem is one of the more gruesome set pieces in recent memory: a Korean plane swoops over D.C., firing hundreds of rounds into unsuspecting pedestrians; tourists photographing the White House rip off their coats to reveal machine guns, a frontline for the home invasion; unmarked vans throw open their doors, functioning as makeshift tanks that clear a path. It's all out war and Fuqua doesn't hold back in the reality department. The front row of the theater is a splash zone.
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When the action finally hones in on Banning — who shoots his way from behind the gun-toting Korean soldiers to gain entry to the White House — Olympus Has Fallen uncovers real thrills. Butler sells the punches, the stealth, the one-liners, and the gruff patriotism — he's more Jack Bauer than John McClane, a guy who can and will do anything to accomplish the mission. You never doubt him, and even when Olympus swerves in the wrong direction — oh no, a kid lost in the White House subplot! — Butler forcefully grabs the steering wheel and drives it back on course. His character builds to make any absurdity fit the movie's mosaic of action, building with close combat attacks and an interrogation scene straight out of the 24 playbook, and escalating all the way to a bazooka shootout.
If only there was more of Butler in the movie. Olympus splits its time pretty evenly between Morgan Freeman and Angela Basset, government officials spouting every "My… God…" variation imaginable while managing the crisis from a boardroom, and Eckhart's President Asher, who spends a majority of the movie handcuffed to a railing. The terrorists bark threats of nuclear apocalypse, the suits in Washington react. It's all padding to Butler's main quest. Melissa Leo manages to light up the screen momentarily as the captured Secretary of Defense; at one point, she's dragged across the ground by her hair. Her response? Scream the Pledge of Allegiance in an act of defiance. As the movie often does, the scene crosses the disturbing line to circle all the way back to bizarre fun.
In front of the wrong pair of eyes, Olympus Has Fallen could be a provocation of jingoism. For fans looking for a slight actioner with slick production value and a Hungry-Man serving of machismo, it's passable fun. Just don't take the image of the Washington Monument being shot to bits, smashing into helpless American citizens into puddles of blood, as a call to arms.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: Film District]
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"Evans grandpa died yesterday. William Asher. Best known 4 director of I Love Lucy and Bewitched. He was sweetest man ever and will b missed." Model/actress Jenny Mccarthy mourns the passing of her former father-in-law and the grandfather of her son Evan. The blonde beauty divorced the legendary TV director's son, John Mallory Asher, in 2005.
William Asher, who directed widely popular episodes of such classic TV shows as I Love Lucy and Bewitched, died Monday at a board and care facility in Palm Desert, Calif., according to USA Today, at the age of 90 years old. Though no cause of death has been officially given, Asher's wife, Meredith, says that he died of complications from Alzheimer's disease.
But Asher managed to leave quite an incredible mark on the world, making generations of fans laugh time and time again. His association with Lucy stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz began when he directed the pilot of Eve Arden's Our Miss Brooks for their Desilu Studios. This led to him heading at least 100 episodes of 'Lucy,' including the classic “Job Switching” episode, in which which Lucy and Ethel are seen working in a candy factory and unable to keep up with the chocolates being sent down the conveyor belt that they are supposed to be wrapping.
Asher also produced and directed episodes of another popular hit television show, Bewitched, which starred his then-wife Elizabeth Montgomery as a witch. During that time, he was nominated for four Emmys for directing and producing, winning once for directing. So even though he may be physically gone, his endless contributions to entertainment will never be forgotten.
Aside from his wife, Asher is also survived by Liane Sears and Rebecca Asher, sons Brian, Bill Jr., Robert and John, four stepchildren, nine grandchildren and eight step-grandchildren.
[Photo credit: Wenn.com]
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.
The funnyman was the toast of the Australian TV prizegiving in Melbourne after receiving the evening's highest honour, the Gold Logie, which is presented to the country's most popular personality.
News of his win was posted online before the stars had even walked the red carpet, but Blake was unaware of his triumph, insisting, "Ultimately all that information was kept from me so it was a genuine surprise. I'm glad too because I am not a great actor."
Also receiving major accolades were Ben Rafter's Hugh Sheridan and Offspring's Asher Keddie, who both walked away with Silver Logies for Most Popular Actor and Actress, respectively.
The Slap star Melissa George took home the prize for Outstanding Actress and Rob Carloton of the Paper Giants took home the same award in the male category.
Rapper Flo Rida and singer Seal provided the entertainment for the evening, while Sir Elton John and Delta Goodrem took the stage to pay tribute to music personality Ian 'Molly' Meldrum, who suffered a severe head injury during a fall in December (11).
The Rocket Man said, "I know I speak for many artists and music lovers around world when I say thank you, there's no one like you," while Goodrem added, "I refer to Molly as the Godfather, he always watches over me and many other artists."
British boy band One Direction closed out the ceremony with a rendition of One Thing.
The actress first made a name for herself as a child star in the early 1990s, appearing in a variety of TV shows, while Savage shot to fame playing Kevin Arnold in the beloved TV series.
Savage, now a top TV director, asked her out on a date and the night went well - until the actor caught sight of her pet pig.
Hewitt recalls, "He came and took me to the Comedy Club and then he took me back to my mum's apartment. 'Cause I'm from Texas, we had one of those pot-bellied pigs and he saw the pig and was like, 'OK, great, thanks, bye!' And I never saw him again."
The actress, now 31, saw Savage again years later - but admits the encounter was still an awkward one: "He still gave me the weird pig look. I refuse to believe it was me; it was the pig!"
Hewitt, who recently split from comedian Jamie Kennedy, is now reportedly dating Jenny McCarthy's ex-husband, actor John Asher.
The actress was spotted "holding hands" and "canoodling" with TV star/director John Asher at a recent dinner party.
An eye witness tells Life & Style magazine, "Jennifer was all over him... She was not hiding her affection or attraction to him at all."
Hewitt split from Kennedy earlier this year (10) and Asher ended his six-year marriage with McCarthy in 2006.
Ironically, the news of Asher's new romance comes a day after McCarthy and her longtime boyfriend, Jim Carrey, split.
The model-turned-actress has been dating Carrey for four years and the couple has been living together since 2008.
But the former Playboy model insists she has no plans to exchange vows with The Mask star because she already considers herself "married" - and she would only ever rethink her decision for financial purposes.
She says, "I had a dream last night that I left him at the altar because I don't want to get married. We are married, we don't need a piece of paper. Maybe one day (we'll marry), when I'm 80 and I need a tax write off!"
McCarthy was previously married to actor/director John Mallory Asher, with whom she has a son, Evan. The couple filed for divorce in 2005 after six years as husband and wife.
Carrey is a double divorcee - he split from first wife Melissa Womer in 1995 after eight years of marriage, and went on to wed his Dumb and Dumber co-star Lauren Holly in 1996. They split less than a year later.
Comedian Jim Carrey and girlfriend Jenny McCarthy are celebrating--the actress/model is reportedly expecting their first child together.
The couple has been dating since 2005 and their happy news was made public by McCarthy's TV presenter pal Chelsea Handler on Tuesday night during her talk show on the E! network.
Making the impromptu announcement, she said: "And by the way, Jim, Jenny wanted me to tell you--she's pregnant."
Carrey has a 20-year-old daughter named Jane from his first marriage to actress Melissa Womer, while McCarthy has an autistic 5-year-old son, Evan, with her ex-husband, director John Asher.
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New celebrity couple Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy have laughed off reports they are engaged and plan to elope in September.
The couple have been dating quietly since December and only went public with their romance last month.
Last week, the National Enquirer claimed the couple were planning to make it official and elope to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico over the Labor Day holiday weekend.
However, Carrey's representative says, "They are not engaged. It's a rumor."
McCarthy's spokesperson reiterates, "They are not engaged."
The funnywoman, 33, split from husband John Asher last August, while Carrey has been married twice before to Melissa Womer (1987-1995) and Lauren Holly (1996-1997).
The couple have remained tight-lipped over their relationship, but McCarthy recently revealed, "He's an amazing person and that's all I have to say. I'm very happy."
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