White House Down

photo for White House Down Every once in awhile a high concept idea bubbles up in Hollywood that’s so good that, in the same year — sometimes only a few months apart — two “copycat” movies on the same or similar themes get made. Such was the case in 1998 with “Deep Impact” and “Armageddon” and “Antz” and “A Bug’s Life,” and in 2006 with “The Illusionist” and “The Prestige.” This year the hot idea floating through Hollywood was “Die Hard in the White House,” and so in March we got Antoine Fuqua’s “Olympus Has Fallen,” in which an ex-Secret Service agent (Gerard Butler) single-handedly fights off North Korean terrorists who have taken over the White House, and then in June we got Roland Emmerich’s “White House Down,” in which a wannabe Secret Service agent (Channing Tatum) single-handedly fights off U.S. terrorists who have taken over the White House. Both films scored about the same with critics and audiences, with “Olympus” taking in about $25 million more than its counterpoint (probably because it was first out of the gate). Both films have likeable (if not overly talented) leads; both films sport strong support by their co-stars (Morgan Freeman in “Olympus” and Jamie Foxx in “White House”); both films have great special effects and destruction sequences (Emmerich is used to destroying things; he wiped out the White House once before, in “Independence Day,” and wiped out the world in “2012”)); both films have despicable villains you can root against; both films vindicate the hero and freedom-loving people everywhere (I added that last part in just for the heck of it). If you liked “”Olympus,” pop “White House” into your DVD player and enjoy the excitement. The synopsis: Capitol Policeman John Cale has just been denied his dream job with the Secret Service. Not wanting to let down his little girl with the news, he takes her on a tour of the White House, and, coincidentally, during their visit, the complex is overtaken by a heavily armed paramilitary group. Now, with the nation’s government falling into chaos and time running out, it’s up to Cale to save the president, his daughter … and the country. Extras: Four Featurettes: “A Dynamic Duo,” a look at the chemistry between Tatum and Foxx and their on-screen presence; “Men of Action” featurette on Tatum’s willingness and desire to perform his own stunts, as well as the extensive training required; “Roland Emmerich — Upping the Ante,” a look at Emmerich’s vision for the film; “Meet the Insiders” on the supporting cast. Blu-ray adds a gag reel and nine more featurettes: “The Beast,” a look at the film’s presidential limo; “The Full Arsenal: Guns, Grenades, Tanks and Choppers”; “VFX Boundaries Down”; “The Inside Story” about the film’s fast-moving rise from concept to the big screen; “Presidential Treatment,” a look at the size and scope of the massive production; “Lights, Camera, Heart-Pumping Action”; “Crashing the Oval Office,” a look at how the filmmakers constructed a stunt set, then drove an SUV at full speed into the Oval Office; “Drowning the Beast” presidential limo escape from the White House pool; “Recreating the White House,” about the meticulous detail that went into replicating the White House. Vitals: Director: Roland Emmerich. Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, James Woods, Richard Jenkins. 2013, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 131 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $72.425 million, Sony. 3 stars

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