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A 26 1/2 Year Old Watches Die Hard For the First Time

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Kylee Peña
A 26 1/2 Year Old Watches Die Hard For the First Time
on Jun 3, 2013 at 10:54:58 pm

In another attempt to catch up on Movies I Should Have Watched Already™, I was slightly encouraged in another thread to watch Die Hard already and concede that it's the action movie that defines all action movies that come forth or whatever. Somehow, I've made it 26 years and some months and I've never actually sat down and watched the thing. I thought I'd seen enough bits of it to add up to one viewing over many years. Many of these bits were on TV, where dubs like "yippee ki-yay melon farmer" replace the classic words of John McClane.

So I watched it thinking it'd be pretty familiar. All the pieces would come together and it wouldn't be all that interesting because it's been a film that's been around since I was approximately 1 year and 3 months old. If nothing else, osmosis would have had me watching this film over and over, right?

Well, here are three things I learned from watching Die Hard for the first time in my life.
1) I had seen so little of this film over the years, I could not have remotely described the plot with any accuracy.
2) You really need all the "mother f**kers in there to get the full effect.
3) Foot injuries like, really skeeve me out.

(Bonus: Alan Rickman is awesome. But I already knew that, so I didn't learn that, so never mind.)

I was originally being…gently reminded that Die Hard is perhaps not the origin of action movies, but it's kind of the epicenter of modern action film, the movie that everyone aspires to when they have terrorists and buildings that blow up and badass cops and all that great stuff. My go-to action film before this weekend has been Speed. It's kinda old and kind of impressive, and its got a lot of cliche junk that doesn't manage to be too offensive because it has some heart to it.

Hey, guess what self? Die Hard came out seven years before Speed, has a much more fleshed out and sympathetic lead character with an actual background and loved ones, has bigger explosions, has Alan Rickman, and has more consistent humor. Where Speed falls into ridiculousness and action tropes, Die Hard doesn't because it's not trying so hard to live up something. I think, anyway. Speed is still awesome. In more of an "A for effort sort of a way." Sorry Keanu, don't be sad.



I was really surprised at how funny this movie is. I wasn't expecting that. I thought it was going to be a super serious explosion packed action movie with Bruce WIllis easily kicking everyone's asses. Sure, people died (and some of them deserved it), but how freakin' funny is this script? Even between all the serious crap that goes down, it's laugh out loud funny. The unintentional sidekick, the cop/cop bromance from afar, the FBI agents, the media. The media and government are the clowns. I laughed so much at this exchange:

Big Johnson: [flying in the chopper to the roof] Just like f*ckin' Saigon, hey, Slick?
Little Johnson: I was in junior high, dickhead.

Even the fact John is BAREFOOT through the entire film is hilarious, and appeals to my need to have seemingly obscure dialogue and situations come back and affect the plot in a major way. Besides the fact it's utterly ridiculous to have your hero barefoot, running around a building, beating up European terrorists, it does serve a purpose in the cat and mouse game Die Hard becomes. Hans is all like hey, instead of going and shooting McClane up in this room while we're here, why don't we just shoot out all the glass because he's totally barefoot and that would be horrible you guys! Awesome! And it is horrible and awesome and skeeves me OUT. UGH.

AND John BARELY wins. Even when his wife looks at him for the first time since act one, her reaction isn't oh baby oh baby. It's JESUS WTF MAN, DID YOU JUMP IN A PAPER SHREDDER. Even JOHN is like WTF MAN, "How the f*ck did you get into this sh*t?" And I'm like I don't know man, but it's pretty cool isn't it?

(Question: why the hell does every authority figure in this movie pick the LEAST LIKELY explanation for things that happen? Why is "the building is being attacked by foreign terrorists" so completely implausible to the point that people are making excuses for why their cars are getting shot and people are jumping out windows? Is this just how the world was in the 80s? The first thought not being terrorism like it would be today? Or is this commentary on how clownish the media and police are about the whole ordeal?)

I suppose this is where I might add that I'm generally not much of an action movie person, at least not like this. I like movies with action, don't assume that everything I watch is about plotless coming of age tales or ageless symbolic organisms. But I generally don't seek out action films, especially not franchises. That's the only explanation I can come up with for never having watched Die Hard in my quarter century and change on the Earth. I got nothin'. It's so frickin' prevalent in pop culture, how could I have missed it? Even three of my most trusted friends have told me repeatedly over the years how awesome this film is.



You see Die Hard's influence in a carbon copy sort of way all the time, where everything is kind of askew. Like when you see the original you're like oooh, so that's how that's supposed to be.

I don't want to caress this film TOO much, it does fall into some of the same things as Speed and other action movies that bug me. Like the relatively strong female side character ultimately needing to be rescued one last time at the end. Or the fact nobody takes a freaking kill shot without savoring it and losing the moment. I realize the second thing is sort of definitive of this genre. A bad guy shooting a good guy after a 90 minute chase with no banter or anything is really unfulfilling. It'd be like the Joker shooting Batman with a cross bow down the block, or Tom pouncing Jerry and eating him up (or was Tom the mouse..), you need the drama to feel the hate the characters have for each other, and you need to prolong it as much as possible. I dug it in Die Hard because it was fun and well-written, but usually it bugs the hell out of me. I'm way too merciless and impatient for that.

Maybe that's why action films don't appeal to me? Because I'm boring, impatient, and merciless? I want to watch the world burn, and I don't want 5 pages of crappy dialog to keep me from that?

Yikes.

So anyway, blah blah blah Die Hard rules. Welcome to 1987. I'd make a pop culture reference about 1987 but seriously, I was 1, I don't have any.

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Mark Suszko
Re: A 26 1/2 Year Old Watches Die Hard For the First Time
on Jun 4, 2013 at 12:30:40 am

Regarding your question on Terrorism, Kylee, I would have to say that yes, before 9/11, we lived in a different world and while we (AMERICANS) were aware of terrorists, we saw them from inside a bubble of relative perceived invulnerability. Terrorism was something that happened mostly to other nations, like the Olympic attacks in Munich, were were too strong and smart to let it happen here. With airline hijackings, our experience had been that the hijackers usually give up the plane and hostages when they land or reach a goal, or that cops and army guys would take them out, and (mostly) things would work out OK.


Die Hard has lots in it to talk about, but one thing about it is that, in the tower hostages and the cops that come to deal with the event, the script contains a cross-section of types, something that was popularized in "Airport", and many Irwin Allen disaster movies. On one level, it's a political statement with a Reagan-esque philosophy of confrontation versus negotiation or engagement with an implacable enemy. The bad guy is not to be trusted in negotiations, he has agendas we can't know, and he's committed to them, ultimately. It doesn't pay to be a nice guy inJohn's world, the bad guys win, a lot. McClane is straight-ahead whoop-ass, no namby-pamby negotiations, because he knows from experience that his enemy is without honor, even if the superior officers on the ground don't get it... And that enemy knows John HAS a code, and he tries to exploit it through threatening John's wife. It's also a social commentary on the excesses of 80's corporatism, with the over-broad example of the coked-up day trader who thinks everyone has a price and everyone can be bought, and the reveal that the ultimate goal of the attack is mercenary, NOT political.


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Kylee Peña
Re: A 26 1/2 Year Old Watches Die Hard For the First Time
on Jun 4, 2013 at 3:08:36 pm

Interesting! Having only seen this movie twice (yes I've watched it twice now) I obviously haven't gotten a chance to dig deeper into its reflection on culture and society at the time.

But I definitely will be doing that.

It's weird how it doesn't seem terribly dated except for minor things like me thinking it weird that everyone doesn't just ASSUME it's terrorism from the first moment. And I guess also the lack of cell phones in general always amuses me in these older movies and TV shows. So many situations completely avoided when you can just text someone.

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Mark Suszko
Re: A 26 1/2 Year Old Watches Die Hard For the First Time
on Jun 4, 2013 at 3:27:02 pm

"So many situations completely avoided when you can just text someone."

3/4 of Seinfeld episodes could not happen today because of cell phones.

It's actually kind of an interesting issue, the ubiquity of them now. And some movie have addressed this in different ways, usually in terms of monitoring and eavesdropping on people, tracking them. From Eagle Eye to Batman to Enemy Of The State (very good film BTW) and others. if you could harness the processing power of millions of phones at once, you'd have a powerful supercomputer. Imagine an A.I. that "lives" in such a distributed manner, not existing ion one place abut everywhere at once, with each phone only a single neuron in a super-organism.... If you had to get in conflict with something like that, fighting it would be a huge challenge.... since it IS your central communication system, you are "inside" of it, and I instantly knows your every spoken or written thought...

hmmm... get me Bruckheimer on Line Two...


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Kylee Peña
Re: A 26 1/2 Year Old Watches Die Hard For the First Time
on Jun 4, 2013 at 7:56:46 pm

Yes, movies and TV have definitely come up with excuses for or used cell phones effectively as storytelling devices. Nearly every sitcom before 2000 doesn't work when people have iPhones.

Also, I'd watch whatever movie you're pitching.

[Mark Suszko] " if you could harness the processing power of millions of phones at once, you'd have a powerful supercomputer."

Except wasn't that a large part of the plot for The Dark Knight? Whatever, if we can have two asteroid films and two White House disaster films we can make this work.

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Tim Wilson
Re: A 26 1/2 Year Old Watches Die Hard For the First Time
on Jun 4, 2013 at 8:01:25 am

My wife and I saw this a couple of times the weekend it opened, took a a coupla more people that summer, and have watched at LEAST every Christmas since then. So easily 3 dozen times. We watched it again a month or so ago and were flabbergasted by how well it's still holding up.

But first things first:

This is the FILM DEBUT OF ALAN RICKMAN.

He did some stage work before (and since, duh), but he didn't have much TV on his resume yet, and none of it had aired in the US. Sitting down to watch this movie in 1988, no idea whatsoever who this guy was. We had no freaking idea who or what we were even LOOKING at -- just an overwhelming sense of awesomeness.

That's the story of the whole movie. WE knew that it was going to be funny, because Bruce Willis was the fast-talking (INCREDIBLY fast-talking), too smart for his own good, but not quite as smart as he thinks, but SMART, funny, sweet, lovable smart-ass we saw on a popular TV show every week.

He was a street-smart Chandler Bing, with a soft romantic side.

W.
T.
F.

The show was Moonlighting of course, co-starring an incandescent Cybill Shepherd. While it went on to iconic status in many quarters, including mine, its first season hadn't finished when this news came out. Besides, a lot of people found the speed, disrespect for the fourth wall, self-conscious pop culture chatter (de rigeur now, unheard of then), extreme stuntcasting (Orson Welles doing an onscreen introduction and narration for an amazing episode called "The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice," etc) and generally strange mix of comedy, mystery and romance, with its two leads speaking insanely fast, insanely loud AT THE SAME TIME, unsettling, if not downright annoying.

THAT Bruce Willis?

I don't mean any disrespect. I freaking loved that show, everything about it, ESPECIALLY Bruce. But you need that background to understand the many ways in which his hiring for Die Hard was a truly epic scandal.

For one, he'd only done one movie, and it stunk. Not his fault though. The "real stars" were Kim Basinger (definitely the top bill) and writer-director Blake Edwards, on a run of truly awful movies since his last winner, Victor/Victoria, six flix earlier. This misogynistic misfire, alas, did not break that string.

So this stinker comes stinking up the room, and then comes the news that Bruce Willis (wait, the MOONLIGHTING guy?) is going to get FIVE MILLION DOLLARS for Die Hard -- which oh yeah, nobody had ever heard of EITHER. So what the hell IS this movie, and why is THIS guy getting superstar money?

I remember all of this distinctly, including the conversations with everyone I knew who saw it afterward who said, "Five million was nowhere near enough." At the time, though, it was crazy money: the budget for the entire movie was only $28 million!!!!

That deserves exclamation points for a whole lot of reasons, right? Nobody knew the budget yet, and numbers change -- the movie grossed $83 million-ish domestic I think, $140 million-ish global, and was considered a hit. But that was the gist: $5 million was a huge number that was going to be a huge percentage of the budget, no matter what.

I wanted to get some specifics, and since we were talking about Chicago papers in another forum, here's the opening of an article in the Tribune:

20th Century-Fox has paid Bruce Willis $5 million to star in a movie. For Hollywood, the result is equivalent to an earthquake. The map of movie-star salaries now must be redrawn.

`This throws the business out of whack,` said Alan Ladd Jr., chairman of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, a division of the MGM/UA Communications Co. Speaking of the money Fox offered Willis to star in `Die Hard,` an action-adventure movie, Ladd said, `Like everybody else in town, I was stunned.`



Read those first two sentences again! It's insanity! "Somebody has paid Bruce Willis $5 million for ANYTHING, and it's going to blow up the whole town."

How much were proven stars now gonna start asking for NOW? And worse, what happens when proven stars came back for sequels to proven hits? People were suddenly terrified to think about making movies with male leads. This news stopped production in its tracks as the whole town asked, what the hell was Fox THINKING?

Fox calmly replied that they needed somebody who was willing to do a lot of heavy lifting, and after a lot of looking (and a lot of people like Clint Eastwood and Richard Gere passing on it) they felt like Bruce was the guy they could build something special around.

But that was all very quiet. The producers didn't comment for this story on why they chose Bruce, and the studio head wouldn't go on the record about Bruce's pay. But still.

Great follow-up paragraph to that observation:

Whether Fox has made a good decision will become apparent next summer when `Die Hard` reaches theaters. But studio executives will get a hint of Willis` box-office strength this spring when his second movie is released. In Blake Edwards`s `Sunset,` he plays the silent film star Tom Mix, who teams up with Wyatt Earp, played by James Garner, to track a murderer.


You already know how well that one did because YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF IT. Or if you did, you didn't watch it. Or if you did, you hated it. Again, Bruce is Bruce, and I loved everything about James Garner...but Blake Blakey BLAKE, another dog.

So along comes 1988, and STILL the only thing we know about Bruce is that he's a fast-talking TV clown with a romantic streak. Yeah, he's clearly got some physical grace, but really, what are we supposed to expect from this?

Not surprisingly, the trailer plays up that side of the movie. Bonnie Bedelia saying "Only John could make somebody that crazy," followed by John laughing maniacally, running on tiptoe, quipping, and generally being kind of annoying -- exactly the Bruce Willis we were looking for. There is in fact a major explosion in the trailer, a bunch of bullets, and a couple of the movie's great stunts -- but mostly, it's kind of a talky set-up with a bunch of jokes.

And we still didn't know exactly what the hell we were looking at.






Also interesting to me to note: a very soft opening, only 21 screens. Fox obviously knew they were sitting on gold, but they wanted to let word of mouth build it....maybe because they weren't sure there was another way to do it at all.


[Kylee Wall] "Sure, people died (and some of them deserved it), but how freakin' funny is this script? "

There was a precedent for this kind of funny action thing, with the previous summer's Lethal Weapon. (Scripted by Shane Black, who'd later write the script for Bruce's underrated 1991 outing, The Last Boy Scout.) But that was TWO guys, both of whom had big-time action credibility in Oscar-nominated pictures. ONE guy carrying a movie like this? In a filthy t-shirt and bare feet? From MOONLIGHTING?

And who the feck is that German villain dude?

(Agreeing that there are a number of big flaws in this movie, I dread the part where he fakes a fake American accent. Although, maybe he was trying to play a European with a fake American accent that John was SUPPOSED to see through. In which case, ACTING! GENIUS! But nobody was thinking he was British before we KNEW he was.)

But this was way, way funnier than Lethal Weapon, for sure. Funnier even than The Last Boy Scout, which TRIED to be funnier than Die Hard. Has anybody done a funnier hardcore action picture yet?

(I don't count Total Recall because I was so often laughing at it, rather than with it.)

Both of those Shane Black scripts btw -- sadistic as hell. That's something that still amazes me about Die Hard. So much violence, so many people killed -- but no torture, no delight in inflicting pain for its own sake. Just shoot 'em, blow 'em up, wrap a chain around their neck and call it a day.

Although yes, the trope where the bad guy throws down his GUN to try and PUNCH the guy to death -- eye roll every single time...with sympathy, because yeah, shoot him when you can and the movie's over, and if you put your guy in a punch-up, he has to win, no matter how bad the bad guy is.


[Kylee Wall] "Even when his wife looks at him for the first time since act one, her reaction isn't oh baby oh baby. It's JESUS WTF MAN, DID YOU JUMP IN A PAPER SHREDDER."

One of the best parts of the movie. She STARTS to be glad he's still alive, then HOLY SH|T!!! Not so sure about this.

I also love that John isn't all that sure either. LOL Has there been a hero this bloody, this so barely there at the end ever since? Dragging a foot that leaves bloody, pulpy smears, practically slobbering, croaking "Holll-leeee!" Sure hadn't been anyone like this until then...

...which is another thing that I loved about this movie. Sandra Bullock was a great unlikely action hero in Speed...considering she mostly sat still...although she was terrific as a cheerful ass-kicker in the previous year's Demolition Man...but still, THIS guy? Never seen anyone like John McClane before. I mean, John Rambo got the poo kicked out of him too, and Ah-nuld got his shirt dirty, but they were still the baddest asses in the room. Pretty much everyone but the computer nerd was tougher than John in an awful lot of ways. He just had more adrenaline, and was more of a smart-ass.

Mis-TAH Enuh-JIZAH Bunneh.


[Kylee Wall] " it does fall into some of the same things as Speed and other action movies that bug me."

They call it "Die Hard On A Bus" for a reason.

It was the directorial debut of Jan de Bont, a Dutch cinematographer who'd done a number of action pictures...including his US debut, Die Hard.

I'm sure there were other guys who worked on them both, but I remember that the production designer, Jackson de Govia was one of 'em. There are a number of design tributes to Die Hard in it. You can look 'em up.


Fast random stuff before a bunch more pop up in another post. LOL


-- We haven't talked about the filmmaking craft that went into this, but it's truly exceptional. McTiernan is a director who cares deeply about craft, "even when" working on "movies like this." (Uhm, ALL movies are supposed to be good, so I'm not sure why it should be considered exceptional...even though it is...so anyway...)

One of my favorite things in the movie is the camera movement. There are a lot of moves that center around characters, rather than action, and adjacent scenes in different locations also linked by similar camera moves that flow into each other.

Great stuff with music too, with lots of little bits -- sometimes just stings, or a couple of measures -- repeating, and layered up. I can only imagine what it took to put together with chunks of tape.


-- CHRISTMAS IN HOLLIS!!! RUN-DMC!!! I'll bet you a real pony that this was the first time that most people had heard a rap song that wasn't "Fight For Your Right To Party."





("Yo! MTV Raps" hadn't started yet, and still took a while to go mainstream. Maybe not until Mama Said Knock You Out a couple of years later did rap really go further into the white Hollywood-originated pop mainstream than MTV.)



-- Rickman WAS surprised by the final fall. Yeah, the SEVENTY FOOT DROP was orchestrated...but they triggered the sequence a second earlier than the countdown to make SURE he looked surprised. He was not happy about this.

-- I wouldn't have been either. To this day.

-- It drives me nuts that people refer to the baddies as "terrorists." Part of the point is that they're PRETENDING to be terrorists, when in fact they're just criminals.

That was an intentional choice by the director, who deviated from an otherwise faithful adaptation of the novel, because he thought it would be funnier to have them just be after the money, and have them treat the terrorism as a joke.

Yeah yeah, terrorism isn't a joke, whatever. It's a MOVIE. And the entire plan of the bad guys DEPENDS on the FBI stepping in and treating this otherwise fairly simple crime as if it were a terrorist act...which it never was.


[Kylee Wall] " Why is "the building is being attacked by foreign terrorists" so completely implausible"

Because there was nothing much in the building yet.

You saw the couple of dozen people who worked there. Otherwise, it was an empty building, in a verrrry quiet part of town at night (it was, and is, mostly office buildings, and gets eerily quiet at night), on Christmas eve. It made no sense whatsoever for there to be ANYONE in that part of town...other than a desk-bound guy picking up Twinkies for his wife.

What's to terrorize? No people, no building, no important structures...but definitely possible to have a drunk dude who wasn't willing to identify himself. And on a radio instead of calling 911? Normal people don't do that. Nothing about that radio call from John passed the sniff test.

Hence him needing to make a ruckus. Even the gunfire was still just one guy with a gun...and nobody knew for sure it was an actual gun. It sure sounded like one, but when the gun stopped firing - dead silence around a darkened building, in a mostly darkened neighborhood, on Christmas Eve.

So whaddya do? You send over a car. He finds one security dude behind a locked door. Silent Night, Holy Night, that's IT.

I guarantee you that even today, in that scenario, the police would do exactly the same thing. "We don't see anybody, we don't hear anybody, we see no high-value targets, it's dark, it's silent, wait, WHO are you again? WHERE are you?"

Hence him throwing a dead dude out a window to land on a cop car. It was the very first piece of evidence that they had more on their hands than one guy who SOUNDED like he was shooting...because in fact, the cop on the scene heard NO SHOOTING.

He DID however, see a dead dude land on his windshield.


[Kylee Wall] "You really need all the "mother f**kers in there to get the full effect."

Word. And you know WHICH word. So don't watch this entry from "The Short F*cking Version" series -- linking every occurrence of that word and its variants -- if you don't find this kind of thing hilarious. Which I do.




A final word to honor a hero, Harry Ellis, played to perfection by Hart Bochner.

The first couple of dozen times, Ellis was just a coked-up hound. Watch it again to see this guy trying to be an ACTUAL, and not just a self-aggrandizing hero. He knows that he's literally putting himself in the crosshairs, and he does it in a way that keeps Holly safe by not connecting her to John, and even though he wants John to surrender, he keeps John out of any further danger by not saying that he's a cop, gonna kick your ass, etc etc. He in fact puts himself further in the crosshairs by setting himself up to Hans as the one guy at the party John cares about.

He has a weak hand and he knows it. He believes in his ability to make the deal, but knows that if it goes south, it's all going to fall on him. And when he sees it turning, he doesn't sell out. Dickish though he may be (words I'm certain I've never typed together before), he holds the course until the end, and doesn't beg for another fate. It's more sad than anything.

Are you that noble? You already know I'M not. LOL I'd be the one that Holly had to arrange the bathroom trip for.

I've got a good-sized list of things that got on my nerves ("Al, this is my wife, Holly Genarro." "It's Holly MCCLANE!"), but so so many things are just right, down to it being the VAUGHN MONROE version of Let It Snow (1946), that I really do think of it as a regular ol' classic, and not just a classic action picture.


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Kylee Peña
Re: A 26 1/2 Year Old Watches Die Hard For the First Time
on Jun 4, 2013 at 4:05:11 pm

First, I will correct myself. My little TV thing that had Die Hard told me the release date was winter 1987 when every other source on the entire Internet (or IMDB, same thing) says summer 1988. Not that it matters, but clearly I need to work on my research skills.

Thanks for the historical context! Other than knowing that Moonlighting was a show that Bruce Willis was on around the same time as the film, this is brand new information. Moonlighting sounds like a show I'd dig. I had a history of TV teacher that was obsessed with it and made us watch an episode. Of course, I skipped that class. Oops. I did notice that de Bont DP'd this. Forgot to mention that little "oooooooh I see" moment during the credits.

[Tim Wilson] "This is the FILM DEBUT OF ALAN RICKMAN. "

So I ended up on his IMDB not because I didn't believe you but because I find that unbelievable and meandered around the trivia section a bit. Apparently he didn't even start acting until he was 28. That's not a cited fact on the page. Also listed but not backed up: the scene with Hans putting on a fake American accent was added when they realized that Rickman could do a convincing American accent. HAHAHA. I was leaning toward your thinking, that he was maybe a little convincing, but definitely not to a dude like John McClane that can spot a fake ID a million miles away. The rest of the scene would lend itself to that. But I think maybe that wasn't the intention.

[Tim Wilson] ""Somebody has paid Bruce Willis $5 million for ANYTHING, and it's going to blow up the whole town.""

Well, did it? Did it drive up the price of proven stars? Do we pay a lot more than ever before because of this?

[Tim Wilson] "So much violence, so many people killed -- but no torture, no delight in inflicting pain for its own sake. Just shoot 'em, blow 'em up, wrap a chain around their neck and call it a day."

Yeah, I think that's one thing I liked the most. I'm all for sadistic, but I can't remember the last time I saw any kind of violent film that didn't relish the infliction of pain on people. It's nice when violence is more of a quick transaction than some icky foreplay nonsense.

And yeah yeah, good for any movie, a classic, not just a classic action movie. Unfair labels and stuff.

[Tim Wilson] "Dragging a foot that leaves bloody, pulpy smears"

I can't say that "pulpy" as an adjective to describe foot injuries skeeves me out any less.

I look forward to another viewing one of these days where I can get past the awesomeness and pay more attention to the craft, particularly camera movements linking scenes. But still, I find it completely CRAZY that the first reaction to a pulled fire alarm and a guy calling on a radio that's out of the ordinary is met with disdain and disbelief. I'm now thinking it's freakin' stupid to have a drunken office party on Christmas Eve, but I'll allow it. Still, I can't imagine that THAT would be the reaction by police today. Everything errs on the side of caution in case it IS the next big attack, even if it makes no sense. Don't wanna be on the news. Or worse, the Twitter.

And yes, I realize they aren't terrorists. I just said that for clarity. I should refer to them as bad people or villains or something. Me dumb.

I'm glad you mentioned Ellis, because he's the one aspect of this script that diverged from my expectations. I've seen a smarmy douchey character like that in movies since, and they almost always tend to wind up dead, and it's always after they do something stupid that hurts people. As the movie wanted me to, I expected he would do something stupid, give up John and/or Holly, and try to work a deal for himself that would still end up with him shot in the face. Kind of a bummer for him though -- he tried his best and failed, and he should be recognized for at least trying some heroics without compromising anyone, but naw, he'll just be the coked up smooth talking idiot, if anyone remembers him at all.

Important question: are the sequels worth watching?

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Stephen Smith
Re: A 26 1/2 Year Old Watches Die Hard For the First Time
on Jun 4, 2013 at 4:58:36 pm

[Kylee]
A 26 1/2 Year Old Watches Die Hard For the First Time

As John McClane would say, "Welcome to the party, pal."

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Scott Roberts
Re: A 26 1/2 Year Old Watches Die Hard For the First Time
on Jun 4, 2013 at 5:58:13 pm

[Kylee Wall] "Important question: are the sequels worth watching?"

Die Hard 2: Die Harder (best sequel title EVER) is pretty good. Not as good or as tightly made as the first one, but still totally worth watching if you like the John McClain character. Instead of a skyscraper, it's an airport.

Die Hard with a Vengeance (still a pretty great sequel title) is probably just about as fun as the second one. And this time you get the buddy dynamic with Samuel L Jackson. Instead of a skyscraper or an airport, it's the subway system.

Live Free or Die Hard (kind of a crappy sequel title) is just OK. I actually enjoyed it when I first saw it. It's fun, it's got plenty of call backs to previous moments, but it's PG-13 and it absolutely takes away from the overall badassness. It's not essential viewing by any means, but it's not the worst thing ever made. Timothy Olyphant is the villain and Justin Long is the sidekick. Instead of a skyscraper, an airport, or the subway system, it's a fire sale computer hack or something?

A Good Day to Die Hard (relatively dumb sequel title) is a movie I never got around to watching, and I'm in no hurry to.


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Tim Wilson
Re: A 26 1/2 Year Old Watches Die Hard For the First Time
on Jun 4, 2013 at 7:19:02 pm

[Stephen Smith] "As John McClane would say, "Welcome to the party, pal.""

Genius!

[Scott Roberts] "Die Hard 2: Die Harder (best sequel title EVER) is pretty good. "

Does include plucky black radio buddy, though. LOTS of fun performances in this one, notably William Sadler, John Amos, and, in complete contrast to the boobs in the first movie, a sympathetic, professional authority figure in Fred Thompson. As the airport manager, his character does everything right, including ceding a meaningful part of his own authority to John at the proper time.

Some fun twists make it worth a view, but I've only watched it a handful of times.


[Scott Roberts] "Die Hard with a Vengeance (still a pretty great sequel title) is probably just about as fun as the second one. And this time you get the buddy dynamic with Samuel L Jackson. "

Exactly. Plucky black sidekick elevated to co-starring role.

This time the stage isn't a building, or an airport, but the entire island of Manhattan. Hmm. Starting to feel a little spread out. Best scene - a fight in an ELEVATOR. Nice and tight. A fun performance by Jeremy Irons that doesn't achieve Alan Rickman levels of juiciness, but still fun.


[Scott Roberts] "Live Free or Die Hard (kind of a crappy sequel title) is just OK. I actually enjoyed it when I first saw it. It's fun, it's got plenty of call backs to previous moments, but it's PG-13 and it absolutely takes away from the overall badassness. "

First, yes, taking away the language softens the impact. SEE THE UNRATED DVD. Much, much more enjoyable.

This is my second favorite in the series I think. (Maybe #2 still is.) It's strange that this one extends across a couple of states, yet still feels more compact than #3.

Tim Olyphant is gold, as is Maggie Q. The most ridiculous thing in the whole series is that McClane could beat her character down, but at least the way he adds the coup de grace (it takes more than a chain around her neck) is credible.

I was very pleasantly surprised by Justin Long. I loved him in Galaxy Quest of course, but he really steps up here. Best minor character, maybe in the whole series: Kevin Smith.

My favorite thing on the DVD commentary was Bruce saying that the third one left a bad taste in his mouth, and he really wanted to do something better...but nothing came along. He kept getting goofier and goofier pitches of "Die Hard in a...." or "Die Hard on a..." or "Die Hard meets..."

When he got a pitch that said, "Bruce, it's like Die Hard...ONLY IN A BUILDING!!!!" he realized, dang, time to get to work on actively finding something myself.

PS. John's now-grown daughter Lucy is priceless. She thinks Dad is an idiot, but she's also his daughter. Hijinks ensue.



[Scott Roberts] "A Good Day to Die Hard (relatively dumb sequel title) is a movie I never got around to watching, and I'm in no hurry to."

Yeah, likewise. I just saw a commercial for it on DVD, and thought, okay, maybe I'll look for it on cable in a couple of months. I hope it's awesome. My default position is obviously that it's not...even though I really liked #4, and am pleased to contemplate #6.

And glad that he's committed to end the series with that one.

In barely related sequel news, Red 2 is in post! I freaking loved that thing.



[Kylee Wall] "Moonlighting sounds like a show I'd dig."

It has a shot. I recommend it to everyone just on principle. LOL But the first two seasons in particular are amazing. It didn't slam into the wall Community or Office style, but it did lose a bit of focus down the line. Still, a classic.

A TV History class thread is in order too I think.


[Kylee Wall] "Well, did it? Did it drive up the price of proven stars? Do we pay a lot more than ever before because of this?"

Yes, absolutely. Somebody was gonna do it anyway. There was a big to-do when Dustin Hoffman got $4 million for Tootsie, which opened the way for somebody like Bill Murray to get $7m for Ghostbusters II, but yeah. Five million became the new opening bid for a guy with one season of TV and one shitty movie on his resume. LOL This leveled off a bit when people actually saw the movie -- oops, yeah, he did $5 million worth of work, and added $5 million to the bottom line. LOL

Before he passed away, guys like Tom Hanks LOL were taking percentages. Warren Beatty did it first, and made a fortune off Bonnie & Clyde. Rather than take a single Brando/Superman style paycheck for Batman, Nicholson took a percentage and made an even bigger fortune than Beatty.

Will Smith does both. He took $20 million PLUS a percentage on Hancock and made $144 million. Frankly, he should have made more. And somebody like Bruce should be getting 50% for a Die Hard movie.

I think the same way about sports stars. Sure, there are a lot of wasteful $10-20 million contracts out there, but Jordan, Bird, Magic, Kobe in his prime -- nobody could possibly have paid these guys too much money. Michael in particular got there with endorsement money, but really, tippity-toppity stars are paid too little relative to the value they provide.

Anyway...


[Kylee Wall] "Still, I can't imagine that THAT would be the reaction by police today. "

That's EXACTLY what happens today.

Dispatcher sends car
Officer evaluates, calls in superiors
Superiors arrive on scene, send SWAT as first responders while awaiting arrival of additional agencies.

There's no other way it can go. It happened far more quickly in the movie than it happens in real life.

And as the ever-awesome late Paul Gleason as "Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson" (I love that that's how he introduces himself) observes, "How do we know he's not working with them?" He's a buffoon, but it's not a bad question.

I think you're giving the physical context way, way too short shrift.

-- Caller won't give his name. Hmm, not a good sign.
-- On police radio rather than 911? An actual bad sign. Who has police radios besides the police? Nutjobs. Nobody else.
-- No corroborating reports.
-- No reason to think it makes sense. WHAT hostages? The building's not even finished, nobody's in that part of town on Christmas Eve.
-- Officer sees no sign of trouble.

And when he does, he does exactly what he should, and what any other officers would do today: IMMEDIATELY see this as a terrorist attack.

Which is exactly the wrong assumption. That wrong assumption led to a cascading set of wrong moves that the criminals were relying on....but there is no sense at all in which authorities were slow to call it a terrorist act. They took the same steps taken today, and because it's a movie, it happened much more quickly than it would in real life.

The larger issue is that your view of law enforcement is shaped so heavily by Twitter. LOL

Mostly kidding, but think about it. Have you ever seen a 60 second countdown in a movie ever take 60 seconds? Has a TEN second countdown ever taken 10 seconds? NO. Always truncated. Same with ambulances. They NEVER come that quickly, and NEVER get you to the hospital as fast as on TV.

NO DISRESPECT INTENDED. For the love of God, please don't take this the wrong way. I'm just saying that in the real world, 5 miles is still 5 miles, and even with all the cars getting out of the way, there's only so fast you can go. In real life, you take half an hour to an hour from 911 call to the hospital....which is AWESOME...but it don't take that long in a movie or on TV.

Or on Twitter. LOL

And to your earlier point, if the police had a couple of tweets to corroborate the call, they'd have been there like lightning. Or even a second call. But there wasn't.


[Kylee Wall] "he tried his best and failed, and he should be recognized for at least trying some heroics without compromising anyone"

Hey, WE remember him the right way. That's a good start.


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Kylee Peña
Re: A 26 1/2 Year Old Watches Die Hard For the First Time
on Jun 4, 2013 at 7:52:29 pm

Can't say I'm super motivated to watch any sequels. You guys aren't selling them to me. Except for Timothy Olyphant. Whaaaat.

My problem with the police was that nobody sent anybody to the first radio call. They were just mean. To me, everything about that adds up to SOMEthing weird going down and worth at least checking out a little bit when you combine it with a fire alarm. My problem was not with the timeline. As a person who occasionally edits movies of varying lengths (sometimes for money), I am somewhat aware of compressing time for story LOL.

I'm not saying it was completely unbelievable or stupid. I'm just saying I'm annoyed that everyone's first instinct is the complete opposite of what I would think. I'm probably wrong, and that's also why I'm not in law enforcement. It's so minor, it's hardly worth arguing about. It is a movie, after all.

[Tim Wilson] "The larger issue is that your view of law enforcement is shaped so heavily by Twitter."

Millenials, dude. We're the worst.

[Tim Wilson] "A TV History class thread is in order too I think."

Hold up. Other than grading my choices (and probably giving them a C-), I don't think we've seen your film syllabus yet.

blog: kyleesportfolio.com/blog
twitter: @kyl33t
demo: kyleewall.com


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Tim Wilson
Re: A 26 1/2 Year Old Watches Die Hard For the First Time
on Jun 4, 2013 at 9:16:43 pm

[Kylee Wall] "I'm probably wrong, and that's also why I'm not in law enforcement."

Agreed. LOL


[Kylee Wall] "It's so minor, it's hardly worth arguing about."

W.
T.
F.

Might as well close the COW. LOL


[Kylee Wall] " I don't think we've seen your film syllabus yet."

Because I'm (surprise) overthinking it, and (HUGE surprise) am trying to shorten the post. I figure if I'm bored reading it before it's done, yeah, definitely too long.

So stand by for something short later today.


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Lance Bachelder
Re: A 26 1/2 Year Old Watches Die Hard For the First Time
on Jun 4, 2013 at 6:47:09 pm

I won't be a wordy as you guys but glad you liked the film Kylee. I always say it's not Christmas without "It's a Wonderful Life" and "DIEHARD". It's still the gold-standard for big action movies.

Lance Bachelder
Writer, Editor, Director
Downtown Long Beach, California
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1680680/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1


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Mark Suszko
Re: A 26 1/2 Year Old Watches Die Hard For the First Time
on Jun 4, 2013 at 8:32:53 pm

Well, that, and The Fifth Element, I would say. And Bruce happens to be in both.

Fifth Element is always the movie you use when you want to impress someone in the giant screen TV sales room.

/Multipass, indeed.


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