A critic friend caught White House Down a couple of days ago, and so I called this morning to see what he thought. “Roland Emmerich is as soulless and bombastic a director as Michael Bay,” he replied, “and this” — Emmerich’s latest — “is no better than Olympus Has Fallen.” Whoa, whoa…what? All the while I’ve been presuming that White House Down would be the slicker, pricier, more upmarket version of a White House-attacked-by-terrorists film, certainly compared to Antoine Fuqua‘s Olympus Has Fallen, a C-grade, Walmart-level piece of shit that opened last March and did about $160 million worldwide.
“But it looks so much better than Olympus Has Fallen,” I argued, not having a shred of first-hand observation to fortify my view. “It has to be at least half-decent or tolerable…right? Olympus was a drag. WHD at least looks and sounds like a tonier product. A slicker Sony Studios-type deal rather than…you know, a film that looks like it was shot in Shreveport.”
Now that a presumably fair-sized percentage of the HE community has seen Marc Forster and Brad Pitt‘s World War Z, reactions can be shared. The projected $60 million-plus weekend haul indicates that the dicey pre-release buzz (troubled, re-written and re-shot, hugely expensive) had no effect on anything. Well, maybe a bit.
“I wasn’t floored but I was definitely okay with [it],” I wrote from Paris on 6.12. “Two or three times I opened my mouth with an ‘oh my effing God…whoa!’ Once or twice I chuckled in amusement. It’s not ‘scary’ as much as a big, epic-sized action-adventure zombie spectacle with some strikingly good, super-fluid CG compositions. It’s basically a globe-sprawling, much more expensive 28 Days Later. A lot of serious exacting work has gone in to making this thing look and feel and sound right. But it’s basically just a good mass-zombie movie that cost a shitload (i.e., $200 million).