Monthly Archives: February 2013

A Good Day to Die Hard

Warning: Spoilers

A good day to die hard25 years on, Bruce Willis is still out there, putting himself on the line, ready to shoot a whole new bunch of bad guys in the face even though they look very similar to the kind of bad guys he was shooting way back in 1988. You know the kind; bleached blonde hair, strange fashion sense, often one heavily muscled bad guy wandering about ready for a fight scene that lasts at least ten minutes and requires somebody being hit with an industrial chain on a meat hook. This one however breaks the mould, it isn’t just about John McClane, it’s about his relationship with his… hang on… his son? His son that he doesn’t get on with… which means that we’re going to have to put up with continuous ‘moments’ where the son repeatedly refuses to call his dad ‘Dad’, and instead just keeps saying ‘John’ over and over and over until they have a significant moment at the end of the film where the entire film set has been blown to oblivion and they can finally have a slow walk through the burning debris and realise that family is more important than depleted uranium?

McClane for some random reason has decided that now is the time to find his son and make amends for being a rubbish parent – 30 years too late you may well say but cast such thoughts aside because this time he really does care, and goes on holiday to Moscow to prove it. And you know this because throughout the film one of the four set phrases that Bruce Willis will utter is ‘I’m on holiday!’, along with ‘Jack!’ , ‘Arghh!’ and ‘Scumbags!’, usually whilst in charge of a vehicle that will imminently be exploded, driven off a bridge or thrown into a building.

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Fun day out in Russia

His son, it turns out, is a CIA agent who is trying to rescue a Moscow political prisoner in order to get a particular ‘file’ which will tell everybody who was really responsible for the nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl. Yes, Chernobyl was apparently the direct result of two men enriching uranium and ‘getting greedy’. ‘Scumbags’, agrees McClane. After a car chase across Moscow where approximately 450 cars get crushed by an armoured car that the bad guys got from somewhere unspecified, McClane and his long lost son start their bonding over high powered automatic weapons and throwing themselves out of windows.

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Interesting female characters? Hahahahahahahahahahahaha. Stop being silly.

Eventually, after half of Moscow is reduced to rubble, but with absolutely no police presence whatsoever, it’s down to CIA agent Jack, who for some reason seems to have been left to make things up by himself, and John McClane who is largely irrelevant apart from an occasional cameo where he squints and falls out of another building, to work out what happened at Chernobyl and what ‘the file’ contains. The real Chernobyl has become a tourist destination in recent years and would take precisely 12 hours and one minute to reach by driving according to Google maps seen as it’s in the Ukraine and not ten minutes down the road. However, in the world of Die Hard the gun toting good guys turn up seemingly a few minutes after the radiation-suit wearing bad guys at the nuclear reactor, which rather than the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident just looks like an abandoned factory.

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Scumbags, all of them

They’re desperately trying to convince you that this is the the site of a terrible accident which is still highly dangerous, with the baddies goggled up to the eyeballs and waving ipads around that bleep at alarming levels, but this feeling of imminent evaporation by uranium depletion is slightly marred by the fact that Bruce and his son just stroll in with little more than a bullet belt to protect them. At one point they fall into what looks like a swimming pool, which was supposedly built inside a nuclear reactor mind you, after jumping out of yet another window and the son just shrugs this off because it’s ‘just rainwater’.

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We shot everybody yet?
Well, the ceiling’s still attached so I suggest we go for that next.

For a light hearted action film it fills 90 minutes with repeated explosions, guns, Bruce Willis either throwing himself out of windows or being thrown into windows, and helicopters rocketing around, but for a Die Hard film it really is dire. What’s happened to the character of John McClane? The wise cracking, vest-wearing one man demolishion machine? In this he’s just wandering about slightly out of focus just repeatedly saying ‘scumbags’ now and again and crashing jeeps. The plot is so poor it’s laughable. Chernobyl? Really? Chernobyl is a three story factory with a swimming pool is it and the largest nuclear disaster ever can be explained with one file? It’s difficult to understand why this even exists, or why just a bit more effort couldn’t be employed with the plot. There’s a political undertone but it’s so flimsy that the film merely rests on its action scenes, however ridiculous they may be. In the last Die Hard film we saw Willis launch a police car at a helicopter and jump out of the back of a lorry onto a fighter jet and this film just can’t compete. He’s out-ridiculoused himself and all he has left is sappy slow-mo shots where he has a family reunion with his grown children.

Overall, if you want a bit of silly fun it kind of does the job but the more you think about it the worse it gets so turn the brain off and enjoy the CGI explosions and ignore the fact that they turned up at Chernobyl with a gas that can apparently de-radify an area in a couple of minutes.

Movie challenge days 11-20

Day 11 – A Film By Your Favourite Director

I’ve already mentioned Kubric, and I could go with The Shining or 2001 A Space Odyssey as two outstanding pieces of work, but I’m going to choose Alfred Hitchcock, even though it turns out he was pretty weird.

I’m going with The Birds from 1963, where Tippi Hedren follows a man she likes the look The birdsof to a small Californian town which quickly becomes besiged by murderous birds. It’s quite a subtle horror film, there isn’t a madman with an axe or chainsaw running around, nobody gets their arms chewed off, there aren’t any ghosts lurking about, just birds. And a bird by itself unless it’s trying to steal your chip butty in Blackpool isn’t that threatening. But imagine walking outside and seeing every available surface covered in birds, all staring at you, and then you start finding bodies…

Challenging to make after Hitchcock decided to scrap mechanical birds and throw live birds at Tippi for five days, but not tell her until she turned up on set, I think this film is the best at showing ‘The Master of Suspense’ at work. Also, there isn’t an answer as to why it has happened, leaving the interpretation completely up to you.

Rear Window is also a fantastic film, Virtego is a bit confusing, Psycho isn’t that interesting once you know the ending, Rope is interesting because of the long unbroken scenes which make it look more like a play than a film, and Marnie has a fascinating performance by Tippi again.

Day 12 – A Film By Your Least Favorite Director

Well, I don’t have a director that I can’t stand, but for consistant levels of absolute tripe Uwe Boll does an extraordinary job. You know what you’re going to get with Uwe – a plot so full of holes you just have to ignore it else you give yourself an aneurism, constant battling, characters saying stupid things (‘I am the devil incarnate!’) and people wearing inappropriate clothing in Nazi controlled areas.

dungeon seigeThe latest of his films I saw was In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale, which lies from the very beginning because not one dugeon throughout is laid under seige, more ram raided. Jason Statham – yes, Jason Statham, action man of the moment, God knows how they managed to get him into this twaddle, but then again he did do Death Race – is a farmer in a little idillic village somewhere on the coast, and he has his beautiful lovely wife and lovely kid and lovely neighbours, but unfortunately the Krugs turn up and shit goes down. Statham, in one of his finest, most sensitive roles, manages to force his bald little head into a kind of constipated flicker of what could remotely be called emotion after burying the body of his young son, before setting off to get his wife back, acompanied by his two sidekicks: a young eager guy and an old grump played by a bloke from Sons of Anarchy. Seemingly indestructable, one of them manages to fall into a canyon at one point after some comic relief on a tightrope, and merely get a bit wet.

So, bad director? Yes, but his films are quite enjoyable if you like writing sarcastic blog posts about them.

Day 13 – A Guilty Pleasure

Labyrinth is probably up there, but these days when you can watch it on a 50 inch TV and labyrinthsee David Bowie’s crotch four foot wide in HD you can hardly blame me.

Stallone films are probably my biggest guilt pleasure – I bloody love Cobra. Cliffhanger as well (Rambo on a mountain), the Untouchables, Rambo three and four where he basically wipes out half of Afghanistan or Burma by himself. All without really doing much but grunting and sticking a pair of shades on.

Day 14 – The Film That No One Expected You To Like

satans_clawI think ‘no one’ is casting a pretty wide net here. I don’t hold polls on facebook asking all of my friends which films I’m most likely to detest, but Inbetweeners the movie was one that I myself didn’t expect to like, and yet it was actually far funnier than the TV programme, especially this bit.

Conversely, a film I expected to like and didn’t is Blood on Satan’s Claw, which is diabolical, and not even in a fun Uwe Boll diabolical way, it’s just shit.

Day 15 – The Film That Depicts Your Lifedawn of the dead

Well, the London rush hour commuter crowd can be reimagined as a hoard of mindless zombies but with more backpacks, so I think Dawn of the Dead probably fits the bill. See the photo – that’s exactly what people look like at King’s Cross.

Day 16 – A Film You Used to Love, But Now Hate

LOTR_setCan’t bring any to mind, though for somebody who says they love the Lord of the Rings films I actually haven’t seen them that many times. They’re just too damn long – you need to pack sandwiches and tell people you’ll be out of contact for the rest of the afternoon if you start on one of these and once you accidentally wander into the extras you’ll be ensonced in model building of Rivendell and stories about how long it took to get the prosthetic feet on for the next four days. I’ve probably seen more of Elijah Wood’s feet than his own mother.

Day 17 – Your Favourite Drama FilmBrideshead

I really liked Brideshead Revisited and I think it can serve as an excellent example of the kind of 1930s Edwardian era film and novel that I really love reading. I can’t get enough of haughty young women in drop waists motoring around with unsuitable young men who will be packed off to World War Two in a few years’ time. See also Atonement, The Great Gatsby and House at Riverton.

Day 18 – Your Favourite Comedy Film

I saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit recently, which was brilliant though whether strictly a comedy film I don’t know. Well I can’t think of anything else so that’s going to have to be it.

Day 19 – Your Favourite Action Film

ramboHas to be Rambo First Blood, because despite the fact that Stallone can be generally summed up in films as somebody who shoots other people, he’s different from Schwartzenegger because Arnie is the American Hero type, whilst Stallone is more of a plucky outsider. I also think in this, his performance is really good. Watch him at the end when he’s recounting his friends all dying – he’s got nobody. He’s been brainwashed into becoming a killing machine to fight for the US and then when he gets back after the Vietnam war he’s shunned and there’s nowhere for him to go. It’s a heartbreaking performance, and a great film all round because despite him being an extremely dangerous man who could run around the entire police force and murder all of them before any of them knew what was happening, he doesn’t intentionally try and kill anybody. And he also whips out the iconic bandana, though the poncho made of oilskin I feel is a far overlooked fashion statement. Just look at that photo – isn’t that the face of somebody who really has been through hell and back?

Day 20 – Your Favorite Romantic Film

I like 10 Things I Hate About You because it’s got Heath Ledger in it and Before Sunrise and Before Sunset are an interesting pair of films. However, the boyfriend’s taking me to see A Good Day to Die Hard for Valentine’s Day so you can tell by that how many romantic films I watch.