Sully. Disaster At Not Many Thousand Feet.


Never get on any form of mechanised transport with Tom Hanks. He nearly died after the Apollo 13 Mission suffered catastrophic failures. Nearly died after the FedEx plane he was travelling on crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Nearly died after captaining a cargo ship that was hijacked by Somali pirates. And most recently, nearly died alongside 155 passengers after landing a jet on the Hudson river. The man is a walking disaster-magnet.

You know the story of Sully. On 15 Jan 2009, flight 1549 left New York. Shortly after take off both engines failed following multiple bird strikes. Devoid of power and unable to make it back to an airport, Captain Chesley Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) made the unprecedented decision to land on the Hudson River, heroically saving all onboard against inconceivable odds. A classic case of truth being stranger than fiction. 

So why recount a story we know so well? Firstly, it makes for great cinema. Hollywood loves an airline disaster – few things are quite as terrifying on the big screen as the screams of passengers mixed with the screams of failing jet engines. In a previous life The Sloth used to book movies for airlines and it never ceased to amaze us how many feature plane crashes / vomit-imducing turbulence / nutters running amok onboard and threatening to blow everyone up / unlucky punters getting sucked out of windows. True to form, watching Sully’s plane slowly descend to the soundtrack of an automated cockpit warning system barking ‘Terrain! Pull up! Pull up!’ is almost unbearable. 

Secondly, what you may not know was Sully had to fight to prove his hero status. Sully the movie mostly focuses on the long and drawn out investigation that followed the crash, where he and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles (Aaron Eckhart) were hauled over the coals by a panel of aviation experts. It’s a fascinating story, as much due to the doubt around his decision to land on the river – computer simulations suggested it may not have been necessary. Coupled with a brisk run time and a reliably solid performance from Mr Disaster himself (plus Eckhart sporting a rather fab 70’s trucker ‘tache), if you want to scare yourself reasonably silly it’s a good bet. Just avoid if you’re planning to jet off on hols anytime soon… 

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White House Down v. Olympus Has Fallen. Pistols At Dawn On Capital Hill

whiteHow Hollywood failed to realise it was making two versions of exactly the same movie only three months apart is beyond us. There’s zilch point telling you what happens in White House Down, for that, please see Olympus Has Fallen. Instead, we’ve run a highly scientific comparative study to see which comes top.

Comparative Point 1: The Unlikely Hero

WHD: Channing Tatum. Pros: Got the prerequisite action hero pecs and slightly dopey look. Cons: Too clean cut and nice to be shooting people. Score 6/10

OHF: Gerard Butler. Pros: Grizzled veteran of numerous action flicks. Delivers lines like: “I’m the best option you got” with suitably cheesey aplomb. Cons: Ropey US accent. Score 8/10

Comparative Point 2: The President

WHD: Jamie Foxx. Pros: Wears a suit well. Cons: Too street for his own good. No real President would wear Air Jordans or say “Git this trash off ma lawn”. Score 6/10

OHF: Aaron Eckhart. Pros: All-American cleft chin and master of the authoritatively pensive look. Cons: Doesn’t look old enough to be President, or are we just getting old? Policemen do seem to be getting younger. Score 7/10

Comparative Point 3: The Plucky Kid

WHD: Channing Tatum’s daughter Emily. Pros: Encyclopaedic knowledge of everything in the universe, ever. Runs own YouTube channel. Basically prevents World War 3. Cons: So unfeasibly precocious her own father asks if she is bullied at school. Score 8/10

OHF: President’s son Connor. Pros: Son of the President so has proper kudos. Cons: Doesn’t do much. Definitely doesn’t prevent World War 3. Score 4/10

Comparative Point 4: The Baddies

WHD: Zillions of baddies. From the cleaner to double crossing government traitors at the top. Pros: Diplomatic for not citing a particular nationality. So many you don’t know who to trust. Cons: Too confusing. We like a clean and simple bad guy to hiss at. Score 4/10

OHF: The North Koreans. Pros: Contemporary. Have properly good, old skool weapons – trucks with spikes stuck on the front, that kind of thing. Cons: A bit too easy, like always blaming The Russkies in the ‘80s. Score 7/10

Grand Totals: WHD = 24/40  OHF = 26/40

Ladies and gentlemen we have a winner! Put your money on Olympus Has Fallen for some good old fashioned retro action heroism. Better luck next time, Channing.

UK release 13 September

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Olympus Has Fallen. But the Senator Morgan Campaign is Gaining Legs.

olympusHollywood’s never ending quest for the Generic New Baddie has moved on.  We’ve had the Ruskies, then the Middle East, now in Olympus Has Fallen let’s hear it for: The North Koreans! Boo!! Hiss!! This is actually one of Hollywood’s smarter moves as Netflicks haven’t reach North Korea yet, so at least they’re not cannibalising their revenue streams.

The Olympus of the title is The White House, which suffers a spectacular attack by North Korean terrorists who storm the battalions and infiltrate President Aaron Eckhart’s secure bunker. These are proper terrorists.  They’ve got B52 bombers modified with impenetrable force fields. Stonking big dumper trucks with spikes stuck on the front that steam through lines of police cars at 60 mph. And working knowledge of the Spock Death Grip. They want missile launch codes (Old Skool! The Sloth liked that. Been far too long since terrorists wanted missile launch codes) but don’t worry, it’s all going to be OK because the Yanks have got: Gerard Butler!

Gerard is a gruff, blood-spattered one man army. He don’t take orders from nobody, bossing around Acting President Morgan Freeman (c’mon Morgs, just fess up to your Reagan ambitions), scything through mountains of terrorists and still finding time to call his missus and tell her he loves her. Whadda hero.

There’s something pleasingly retro about Olympus Has Fallen. It has briefcases with scary flashing countdown clocks inside. Secret Service agents muttering ‘Package is on the move’ into their wrists.  And stirring music to accompany stirring Presidential speeches proclaiming ‘God Bless America’. Forget the digital age, let’s hear it for some good, old-fashioned analogue action.

UK release 19 April

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