Thursday, July 23, 2015

Live Free or Die Hard

Image result for live free or die hard
Does anyone out there know how Live Free or Die Hard is generally viewed today?  It seems to have faded from people’s (and the internet’s) memory in the last eight years.  Well I decided to check it out again and I think I understand why it just doesn’t get brought up very much. 

Firstly, there are some legitimately cool things in the film like the first shootout sequence, the hand to hand fight McClane has with Maggie Q (up until they move to the elevator shaft), the computer shit isn’t as insulting as it usually is, Bruce is Bruce (even if he plays it way too cocky in this installment) and the cinematography is very nice including some particularly fucking awesome camera movements.  I’ll totally give kudos for making all of the action comprehendible instead of going for the shaky cam with a million quick cuts method which was widely popular at the time.  The overall technical aspects of the filmmaking are pretty well done here.   

But just to be clear I don’t think this is really a good picture.  The way they constantly contrast McClane’s old fashioned attitude and approach with the modern world is extremely contrived, most of the action sequences are downright cartoony (like McClane jumping off an exploding fighter jet and sliding down a collapsing freeway ramp or launching a speeding car into a helicopter somehow from the road below), the main villain (Timothy Olyphant (Gone in Sixty Seconds, Justified)) was actually cast well for what they were going for but the character itself is lame especially compared to the previous three movies, and the parkour shit is laughably dumb.

Image result for live free or die hard jet
Image result for live free or die hard jet

There’s one scene in particular that I want to bring up because I think it’s very interesting.  At one point McClane has a conversation (more like a speech really) with Justin Long (Drag Me to Hell).  He opens up and explains how being a hero isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  He says that heroism only leads to shattered relationships and a lonely existence with little acknowledgement of your honorable deeds.  This is the first time McClane digs into the psyche of his previous exploits (even though he’s not naming specific events of actions).  This seems kinda strange at first because in parts 2 and 3 McClane shrugs it off whenever someone mentions that “Nakatomi thing in LA” to him.  But he’s getting older and sure, he’s allowed to philosophize on his life and where he currently is mentally and with his family and etc.  That’s why I like this new development in the character.  It’s genuinely sad to hear that McClane is still having a hard time at home.  And it sounds like shit has only gotten worse with not only a wife that doesn’t want anything to do with him but now a daughter that hates his guts as well.  The only minor problem with this scene is that the dialogue comes off a little too self-aware but it’s not a big deal.

Moving on, I wonder what made the studio suits choose Len Wiseman to direct because all he had done up to that point were two Underworld films.  And subsequently all he did was the Total Recall remake.  I can’t beat on him too much though because anyone would’ve had a hard time making the next Die Hard (especially coming off of With a Vengeance).  The only possible exception is maybe McTiernan.  But the big problem there is that he was wrapped up in some bad legal shit then which eventually led to him doing time.

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But let’s get back to my main question: how come no one talks about this anymore?  The thing is number 4 here isn’t really terrible or really good or even a forgotten gem.  Everyone forgot about it because it lies somewhere in the middle.  There isn’t enough to get worked up over in any way.  It has some nice moments but it also has a bunch of bad ones, a few cringe worthy but mostly it’s stuff that just doesn’t stick with you.

So it’s not a total bust if you should decide to throw it on, but it leaves you with a feeling of “I guess that was sorta fun…maybe”.

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Adventures of Robin Hood

Image result for the adventures of robin hood sword fightWhat a badass fucking movie guys.  It had been a long time since I had seen this one and I remember it being good but I forgot how ballsy Robin is.  The guy walks right into villainous Prince John’s castle all by his lonesome, throws a dead royal deer down on the table in front of John, sits down, gnaws on some gamebird and makes incredibly pugnacious remarks about how bad of a person the Prince is.

Robin doesn’t give a fuck and that’s why I love him.  He doesn’t doubt his own ability or his morality for a second.  He believes it’s his divine duty to protect the people of England.  And his band of merry men are his cult followers that keep the singular goal of defying Prince John at every turn until King Richard returns from the Crusades at the fore.

To anchor this piece you have a marvelous trifecta of acting talent.  Errol Flynn (Captain Blood) as Robin Hood keeps you on your toes with his sharp tongue and bold feats, Basil Rathbone (The Hound of the Baskervilles) as Sir Guy of Gisbourne is a stuffy douche that serves as Robin’s main opponent, and Claude Rains (The Invisible Man) is the haughty and egomaniacal Prince John who plays it with just the right amount of wimpiness so that you know he’s really some wiener behind all his power.  And sure, you also have Olivia de Havilland (Gone with the Wind) as Robin’s love interest who does very well and even saves Robin’s life at one point (in fact she almost does it twice if it weren’t for that piece of shit Guy of Gisbourne).  So a great cast all around.

Image result for the adventures of robin hoodNow I know what you’re all thinking, “this is from 1938, it’s probably boring and filled with terribly staged scenes of nothing but trite dialogue”.  And that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  This thing is almost all meat.  There’s a ton of action including several sword fights, a hand to hand tussle, a chase on horseback, arrows are flying all over the place including into henchmen’s chests (for real too, they hired an expert archer to shoot arrows into actors chests that were heavily padded, I mean holy shit that’s a fucking crazy thing to do for just a movie) and there’s an archery contest.  It’s kinda unbelievable how many people Robin kills throughout the film without thinking twice.  And the non-action stuff is fantastic too because they’re always advancing the story and shit keeps escalating.

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Jeez, Robin's about to shoot that guy at point blank
range with his arrow, what a crazy sonuvabitch
I’ll fully admit that this is sort of a hammy picture.  Errol Flynn especially tends to deliver his lines in an over the top cartoony way.  But his performance is still cool because he backs his shit up with very aggressive and athletic action.  You know, I was gonna mention something about having the mindset that this is like a 30’s version of a comic book movie but fuck that.  This is just an awesome film.  I don’t care if it feels a little hokey at times, it’s a fuckin’ balls out adventure and a beautifully vivid colorful picture to look at.  If you’re an action connoisseur like I am then this is a must see.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Terminator Genisys

Image result for terminator genisysThis was horrendous.  I mean I knew it was gonna suck but Genisys was worse than I expected.  And I could write a whole long review arguing that every decision made was a terrible one from the abysmally nonsensical casting (including casting someone who looks like she’s twelve years old (Emilia Clarke (Dom Hemmingway)) to play what’s supposed to be the infinitely badass Sarah Conner), to the incredibly asinine (and sorta unfollowable) plot, to the inconsistencies with how durable or fragile the terminators are depending on what the movie needs at any given moment, to the phoned in acting, to the atrocious and completely out of character dialogue, to etc.

But I’m not gonna waste my time or yours.  Fuck this movie.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Image result for cocktail 1988Brian (Tom Cruise (The Firm, Eyes Wide Shut)) just got out of the military and heads back to his hometown of NYC.  Since no one will hire him in any sort of business/financial position he takes a job as a bartender.  Coughlin (Bryan Brown (F/X, Gorillas in the Mist)) is the wise old tapster that takes Brian under his wing.  His spouts his own code, called Coughlin’s Law, and always knows just the right thing to say, whether you want to hear it or not.  The two shoot to stardom and become the hottest mixologists in town because of the boisterous and flashy way they make drinks.  But eventually Brian and Coughlin have a fight and split up.  Brian moves to Jamaica where he continues bartending and meets Jordan (Elisabeth Shue (Adventures in Babysitting, Hollow Man)).  They sorta have a thing but then split up, then Brian gets in with this filthy rich chick, but then they fall out, and then Brian tries to get back together with Jordan, and he runs into Coughlin who got married to some other filthy rich chick and blah blah blah.

There’s so much story and things change so rapidly that it’s actually pretty entertaining.  I mean you got Tom in full Cruise Control where he’s bouncing off the fucking walls half the time and the other half he’s intensely melancholy and/or pissed.  The Coughlin character is good because he’s such an asshole but it curiously takes a while for that to be totally apparent.  You see even though he’s the clever sage he’s really pretty pathetic and it was interesting to discover this by the end of the film.

Image result for cocktail 1988This one tends to make a lot of “Worst Movies of All Time” lists but I don’t quite get it.  Ok, Cocktail isn’t a good picture really.  The constant rising and falling that Brian endures both emotionally and monetarily is kinda comical (but I don’t think it was meant to be), and the idea of chronicling the life and times of a world famous barkeep is just downright silly (although it’s definitely something I can get behind, like the similar world famous bouncer concept used in Roadhouse).  Also one of the messages of the picture is that you can act like an asshole, hurt everyone that loves you and everything will turn out alright.  That’s kinda fucked up.

But I have to say that the fast paced plot, the bouncy attitude and glimpse into the world of high stakes NYC bartending made for a fun watch.  The same director that would eventually bring you Species and Dante’s Peak (Roger Donaldson) serves up a glass full of ale that kinda tastes bad but you just can’t stop drinking it.  Cheers.