Gerard Butler in Angel Has Fallen

Simon Varsano/Lionsgate

It is rather remarkable that _____ Has Fallen has become a franchise.

Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is certainly no Indiana Jones or John McClane. Olympus Has Fallen is best remembered as the more successful of two dueling White House-themed action movies (the other was White House Down). London Has Fallen felt like an obligatory sequel. Apparently, it was still successful enough to continue the franchise, so now "Angel Has Fallen," too.

Now that he's died hard twice, our hero is starting to crib from another franchise, Lethal Weapon. Banning doesn't say he's "too old for this," but he is feeling the effects of a life in the Secret Service, including the two previous times he rescued a president. He's having migraines and dizzy spells, so he's considering taking a promotion to Director. President Trumbull (Morgan Freeman), having ascended from Secretary of State and VP, thinks Banning is right for the job, but he isn't sure Banning is ready to leave active duty.

Angel Has Fallen Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman in Angel Has FallenJack English/Lionsgate

When Trumbull gets attacked by drones, Banning is the only agent on the detail to survive. It's going to be difficult to find out who planned the attack, because whoever it was also framed Banning for it. FBI Special Agent Helen Thompson (Jada Pinkett Smith) investigates, immediately convinced this is an open-and-shut case of a Secret Service agent trying to assassinate the president and leaving a blatant digital paper trail.

The opening is an intense sequence as the drone strike decimates the Secret Service and blows up their boats and aircraft, although it's still hard to see those explosions through the jiggling shakycam. But Angel Has Fallen soon becomes a truly joyless exercise in going through the motions. The threequel has ambitions to break the "Die Hard" formula of the first two films, only to trade it for an even more mundane formula. After all, the Die Hard scenario can only be as inventive as the setting allows. The "framed hero has to prove his innocence" narrative is even more generic. With the frame-up being so flimsy, the whole movie becomes frustrating.

Capture Banning, ask questions laterJack English/Lionsgate

Banning has proven himself capable of single-handedly defeating terrorist armies twice. Why would he sloppily attempt to assassinate the president and leave himself as the only possible suspect? The conspirators left a trove of evidence for Thompson to find, and she never questions the convenience of it. Her character operates entirely on bad movie logic.

Most of the action occurs on backwoods roads at night or in the barely lit forest. You already can't see when the camera starts shaking to obscure everything else. When you compare this to the action in a movie like John Wick, where every detail is labored over and choreographed, Angel Has Fallen just looks sloppy. Good guys and bad guys basically shoot guns ad nauseum, while extras and stuntmen fall down randomly. It lacks even the most basic sense of flow, let alone stakes. Not every film can be John Wick, but can we at least expect clear lighting and a functional steady camera?

Angel Has Fallen "Would you accept a collect call from a Mr. McClane?Simon Varsano/Lionsgate

The superficial patriotism of the franchise has been updated to reflect current fears of Russian collusion and dark web meddling, but the screenwriters don't really understand what those fears are about. Angel Has Fallen even lacks the conviction of the first two films' jingoism.

I still hope Angel Has Fallen doesn't kill the franchise. I like Gerard Butler in Die Hard scenarios, but they can do better than Angel Has Fallen. Let's hope they get another chance to rectify this mistake.

Welcome back to "Now in Theaters: 5 New Movies for the Weekend."

There's only one wide release movie coming out this week, so I'm featuring a bunch of Indian movies. You're gonna love it.


How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World


The final chapter in Dreamworks' critically acclaimed How to Train Your Dragon trilogy, Hidden World will answer the burning question that's been on every viewer's mind: Will Toothless ever get a girlfriend? If you liked the previous two movies in the franchise, there's no reason to skip out on this one. It may not be quite as good as the original, but it looks like a fun entry with solid action, great animation, and Toothless's adorable face (now in black and white!).


Run the Race

RUN THE RACE Official Trailer (2019) Tim Tebow, College Football Movie HD

Brace yourself, because this is a rare treat. Tim Tebow, the football guy, executive produced a faith-based football movie. Take a moment to let that sink in, and contemplate what Tim Tebow might think makes a good flick. Then watch the trailer where a bully tells the handsome, athletic high school protagonist, "you got that soft jaw." The trailer throws out every cliche in the book, from the dead mom and embattled step-dad to the "we gotta get out of this small town!" to the injured leg-hot nurse meet cute. It seems so generic it borders on parody. If you like so-bad-it's-awful movies, this is definitely one to watch.

Oru Adaar Love

Oru Adaar Love | Official Teaser ft Priya Prakash Varrier, Roshan Abdul | Shaan Rahman | Omar Lulu

Oru Adaar Love (One Fantastic Love) is an Indian Malayalim-language musical rom-com about love and high school. One of the songs, "Manikya Malaraya Poovi," went viral in India before its release, but the real draw seems to be the romantic chemistry between the two leads. That finger gun game is off the charts, so if you want a fun high school musical and don't mind reading subtitles, this might be a good find for the weekend.


Mithai Theatrical Trailer || Rahul Ramakrishna, Priyadarshi || Prashant Kumar || Vivek Sagar

A Telugu-language black comedy from India, Mithai follows a nerdy slacker named Sai who's apartment gets robbed just before he's about to get married. One of the stolen items is a necklace Sai intends to give his betrothed, so he sets out on a journey with his best friend to track down the thief and get the jewelry back before his wedding. The movie plays like an Indian take on a Seth Rogan movie, so there's a lot of sex jokes, hijinks, and weed.

Total Dhamaal

Total Dhamaal | Official Trailer | Ajay | Anil | Madhuri | Indra Kumar | Feb. 22nd

The third movie in the Hindi-language Indian action-adventure Dhamaal franchise, Total Dhamaal proceeds Dhamaal and Double Dhamaal. This Bollywood blockbuster follows various groups of scoundrels attempting to locate a large sum of money. Along the way they encounter quicksand and gorillas and lions and tigers. Also, there are musical numbers. The whole thing seems like an absurd, over-the top mess, and honestly, that usually makes for a hell of a good time.

Dan Kahan is a writer & screenwriter from Brooklyn, usually rocking a man bun. Find more at

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How Celebrities Have Been Affected by the California Wildfires

As celebrities begin to return to the homes they evacuated, they're giving their fans a look at the damage.

Los Angeles Times

The wildfires currently blazing through California have become the deadliest in a century, claiming 59 lives, according to Time. Flames from the Camp Fire north of Sacramento and the Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles have destroyed over 200,000 acres, and continue to burn. Over 100 people are reportedly missing, and thousands have been displaced. Even as firefighters expand containment areas, residents now face respiratory-damaging air contamination, potentially disastrous mudslides, and even a norovirus outbreak. As celebrities begin to return to the homes they evacuated, they're giving their fans a look at the damage.

Here are some of their stories.

On November 9, Charlie Sheen tweeted that he was unable to reach his parents, Martin and Janet, during the chaos as he and other Malibu residents were ordered to evacuate their homes. Martin was later tracked down in Zuma Beach by a local Fox News affiliate. The elder Sheen used the opportunity to address his children during the station's broadcast and let them know that he and his wife were out of harm's way, though he could not say the same for their Malibu home.

Gerard Butler took fans on a tour of his incinerated neighborhood, which he referred to as "a war zone," via Instagram. The actor, visibly upset in the two videos he posted, urged his followers to donate to fundraisers that support those across the state who face a long rebuilding process.

Miley Cyrus posted before and after photos of the home she shares with actor Liam Hemsworth on Wednesday, highlighting the stark contrast between a happy dog on her porch and an incinerated pile of rubble. Cyrus also tweeted that her pets were unharmed, as well as a link to the organization she founded, the Malibu Foundation, which offers crisis support in the community.

Guy Fieri offered his expertise when he surprised Butte County first responders with dinner.

Comedian Whitney Cummings stepped in personally to check on Stanley the Giraffe, a beloved and internet-famous resident of Malibu Wines, a winery that also houses horses, cows, and other farm animals.

Other celebrities like Sandra Bullock, Ellen Degeneres, Rob Lowe, Lady Gaga, and more are helping by making substantial donations to recovery relief organizations, distributing food and water to firefighters, and even delivering pizza to evacuation centers.

Rebecca Linde is a writer and cultural critic in NYC. She tweets about pop culture and television @rklinde.

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BOX OFFICE BREAKDOWN | What's coming to theaters this weekend?

JANUARY 19TH-21ST | Action-packed or light and romantic? The cinema has the answers to both

Go on a romantic, musical journey or get your fix of action and heart-pounding thrilling adventures this weekend to gobble down all of the latest movie goodness.

In Popdust's column, Box Office Breakdown, we aim to inform you of the top flicks to check out every weekend depending on what you're in the mood to enjoy. Looking to laugh? What about have your pants scared off? Maybe just need a little love? Whatever the case may be, we have it.

Take a peek at our top picks for this week...

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No, this is not an episode of South Park. This actually happened. Mel Gibson was raving his anti-semetic ass off at a Hollywood rave at 2 AM on Friday night.

“It was so surreal. There were all these hipsters in their twenties and thirties on the dance floor and then out of no where Mel Gibson appears,” a hipster in his twenties or thirties tells Popdust exclusively. “We were like, ‘Now way! Mad Max!’”

Mel got into the groove and was more than gracious when the crowed began to recognize him. A stunning 6 foot model shrieked when she saw Gibson and asked to take a picture with the legendary actor, and he was more than happy to oblige—happily posing with a bevy of beauties.

After the spontaneous photo shoot, Mel joined actress Malin Akerman on the dance floor for another few beats.

“Mel could totally dance! He looked like a serious raver busting out all these trance moves! Malin was impressed!”

Mel finally came up for air, and talked shop with fellow raver Gerard Butler before calling it a night.