Thursday, November 7, 2013

White House Down Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
From Roland Emmerich, the director of Independence DayThe Day After Tomorrow and 2012, comes the hard-hitting, non-stop thrill ride White House Down, available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Two of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors, Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street, Magic Mike) and Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx (Best Actor, Ray, 2005), team up in this explosive action thriller about a capitol policeman (Tatum) trying to protect the U.S. President (Foxx) during a hostile takeover of the White House. Featuring breathtaking action sequences and special effects, White House Down also stars a top-notch supporting cast, including Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight), Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty), Richard Jenkins (Jack Reacher), Joey King (The Conjuring) and James Woods (Casino).   
Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)

The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, Independence Day and Stargate are among my top films that I watch a lot. When I say a lot I mean A LOT. Something about epic bad weather, global disasters, and aliens just makes me happy and I can count on Roland Emmerich for some really good action. I will grant you that these aren't all particularly thought provoking or even extremely clever but they sure look good! Olympus Has Fallen is probably the more substantive of the two “terror at the White House” films if that’s what you are looking for, but this one has big guns, big explosions and most importantly to me, Channing Tatum!

Former serviceman and current Capital Police Officer John Cale (Channing Tatum) hopes to become a secret service agent. He is assigned to the House Speaker but dreams of protecting the President. Much of that dream is due to the fact that his eleven year old daughter Emily (Joey King) idolizes the President and is becoming increasingly alienated from her father. John takes Emily to the White House hoping to score dad points as he interviews for the secret service position. The interview doesn't go well starting when the interviewing agent Finnerty (Maggie Gyllenhaal) already knows him and points out all of his shortcomings. Leaving the interview, John pretends that he has a shot at the job for his daughter's sake and he and Emily join a tour of the White House in progress.

In a moment of good luck for Emily, the President (Jamie Foxx) stops to talk to the tour group. Emily can’t help but ask a question for her blog and also tells the President that her father will soon be on his protection detail. The President quietly tells him not to lie to children and this is the start of a very bad day for John. Emily heads to the bathroom and terrorists attack the White House. John manages to escape the from the group of hostages and finds the President. He goes above and beyond to keep the President safe while searching for his daughter as a well organized team with insiders working with them wreak havoc on Washington.

Roland Emmerich, the man behind many movies of mass destruction, is the one responsible for White House Down. If you've seen Olympus Has Fallen you might be thinking “I've seen this movie” but this is the one with Channing Tatum. If you've seen Gerard Butler save the President then you are thinking of the other film.  Many viewers might say this is a very predictable story. The man who was deemed to be not good enough to be hired by the secret service ends up being able to protect the President and almost single-handedly saves Washington. As if that wasn't enough, by the end he also wins the respect of his estranged daughter who finally sees how cool her dad is after he goes all John McClane in the White House. It’s all very contrived and convenient and I DON’T CARE.

Channing Tatum has grown on me as an actor and I totally believe that he could save the world. The explosions are big, the action is realistic and I enjoyed the film thoroughly. The Day After Tomorrow is my favorite snow movie and this is my favorite fiery explosion movie. If you want to talk about the realism of the story line then this isn't the film for you. If you want to debate the political process and security of our government – again, this isn't for you. If you want some awesome action and to see  things blow up and you are also willing to suspend disbelief enough to accept Channing Tatum as a bad ass agent then buy your White House Down Blu-ray now!
Video (5 out of 5 stars)

Whether or not you like the film, you will likely admit that the film looks good. Detail is impressive and clarity is outstanding in exterior daylight as well as the darkest parts of the white house tunnels. The environmental factors like grass and trees are incredibly realistic as are the interior fabric textures. Skin tones are natural and consistent and once you buy into the gunfire and explosions its quite impressive as well.
Audio (5 out of 5 stars)

White House Down's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix sounds just as amazing as you'd expect from a movie like this.  The dialogue is crystal clear and every channel delivers on every level.  The rear channels offer plenty of ambiance and the sound effects bounce around the room with amazing clarity and accuracy.  The gunfire, the explosions and more are delivered with a lot of punch from the LFE channel.  This is a reference quality lossless mix that will blow the roof off!
Extras (4 out of 5 stars)

The Blu-ray contains a significant list of special features, but surprisingly enough there's no commentary or deleted scenes included like they usually are.

White House Down contains the following extras:
  • Gag Reel – Over six minutes of funny stuff and outtakes.
  • A Dynamic Duo – Cast and crew interviews focused on Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx as a team.
  • The Beast – A five minute look at The President’s limo constructed for this film.
  • Men of Action – A look at the action sequences including Tatum Channing’s stunt work.
  • The Full Arsenal – A look at the numerous array of weapons from the film.
  • VFX Boundaries Breakdown – A short look at the special effects.
  • The Inside Story – A brief look at how the film came to be including the pitch and casting.
  • Presidential Treatment – The White House sets and locations.
  • Lights, Camera, Heart-Pumping Action – The cinematographer’s offerings
  • Roland Emmerich – Upping the Ante – A cast and crew discussion about Roland Emmerich.
  • Crashing the Oval Office – The oval office set that was built and destroyed during the film.
  • Drowning the Beast – A look at an impressive action sequence.
  • Recreating the White House – More about the White House set pieces – their creation and destruction.
  • Meet the Insiders – A look at the supporting characters.
  • Previews – previews for other Sony releases.
Summary (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)

I’m sure many will argue with me about the plot, the action and the characters. They probably aren't wrong but I urge you to give this one a chance. Enjoy the explosions and just go with it. I’m sure this was one of the most disappointing action films of the year for many but it was exactly as I expected. It was fun, it was loud, and I’m happy to have it in my man-made disaster collection. I don’t care if it could have or would have really happened just as I don’t honestly believe that James Spader would go through a stargate or John Cusack would escape the destruction of Los Angeles. I don't need to believe it to love it!

Order your copy today!

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