Greetings programs, and welcome to a special episode of the podcast. This week we’re doing something a little different and taking a look at three versions of the same film. 1951’s The Thing From Another World, 1982’s John Carpenter directed horror classic The Thing, and the 2011 remake/prequel thereof, also titled The Thing.Continue reading “Awesome Friday Make/Remake Podcast: Three Versions of ‘The Thing’”
Greetings programs! We’re back with our 9th episode of the new Awesome Friday Podcast. This week we’re talking about one new thing and one not so new thing. First up is the new Mary Elizabeth Winstead starring action film from Netflix, Kate, which we have mixed feelings about, and second is the new-to-all-Disney+-subscribers film starring Emma Stone, Cruella, which as it turns out, we both really like.Continue reading “Awesome Friday Movie Podcast: ‘Kate’ & ‘Cruella’”
I am, if I am totally honest, not even sure where to begin. Kate, the upcoming action film from Netflix, has a killer lead actress, a killer premise, looks gorgeous and falls entirely flat at every turn. If it were not for some stylistic flourishes –which are problematic in their own right– I don’t know if I’d have anything nice to say about it.Continue reading “Review: ‘Kate’ has a killer premise that you have definitely seen before”
DC’s Extended Universe of films got off to a rocky start. An early focus on being grim and gritty and “realistic” a la the comics of Frank Miller along with a lot of time spent setting up a universe seemed to get in the way of making, you know, good movies. That is to say, they went too dark and they spent so much time worrying about the next movie they forgot to focus on the one they were making.
Luckily it seems that someone eventually figured this out and started letting filmmakers make the movies they want to make rather than having them conform to a predetermined aesthetic and continuity. Sometimes this has resulted in a miss (like Joker) but in recent years they have actually generated a string of fun movies (like Aquaman and Shazam!).
So how does Birds of Prey fare? As both a sequel to one of the least liked DC films and also focussing on one of the most fun characters in the DC universe it has a tough setup but I’m pleased to say it’s definitely a hit.Continue reading “Review: Birds of Prey is a good time!”
In the 1980s one of the USAs biggest scandals was Iran-Contra, in which profits from arms sales to Iran were funnelled to Contra rebels in Nicaragua. That wasn’t the only source of cash for the Contras though; Reporter Gary Webb uncovered that Contras were helping Columbians smuggle cocaine into the USA with the Government and it’s agencies looking the other way (at least).
If it sounds like it would make a good movie then you’re in luck because they made a movie out of it.
I’ve written quite a bit about this movie so for those of you who just want to TL;DR version that covers the important bits here it is:
* A Good Day to Die Hard is fucking terrible
* John McClane is even less relatable than he was in Life Free or Die Hard
* Jai Courtney is alright, but if you’re a fan you’ll wish he had a different big break into movies
* Die Hard is still the best Die Hard movie, and always will be (followed by “With a Vengeance”, “Die Harder”, “Live Free” and now “A Good Day”, and in that order)
* Mary Elizabeth Winstead needed to be in this movie more
So here we go.
In 1988 John McClane was a different kind of action hero. He was an everyman, nor an adonis or a martyr or highly trained ninja/soldier/pastry chef, he was just a guy who was thrust into the position of being a hero by shitty circumstances. He got the shit kicked out of him, no one believed him when he initially called for help, and when he finally prevailed he was so beat up it’s amazing he could still walk.
All of this worked because not only was John McClane more relatable than every other action hero (and indeed went on to be the template for so many other action heroes through the 1990s and on to the present) but because Die Hard was also a well constructed film. It’s an action movie yes, but it takes a good half hour before any of the real action starts allowing for a lot of character development and plot set up that’s often missing from the bigger more bombastic action films.
Fast forward to 2012 and the sad fact is that they’ve now basically unmade the character and fit him every so neatly into the mould he originally broke.
John McClane is no longer an everyman, he’s an action god, casually sending a flatbed mercedes cargo truck into an e-brake spin to avoid an oncoming RPG or driving a commandeered SUV through a guard rail on an overpass, landing it on a moving semi truck with a car trailer and literally driving over traffic to get to the road below, all the while spewing off bad one liners which have clearly been added in ADR.
I can’t tell if Jai Courtney is terrible or if it’s just the material he’s given to work with. He plays the son angry at his absentee father bit alright, but it’s kind of unbelievable. Especially when you consider that the reasons John McClane Sr. was absentee were a) his mother kept moving him away and b) John MCClane has literally saved three major cities and the entire country at this point, so it’s not like he was gone because he was a deadbeat dad, but that’s the angle they play it from rather than the “you were there for all those strangers but not for me” angle.
And since we know he was there for those strangers, and his exploits are known to people in that universe, it makes no sense that the bad guys don’t seem to know who he is and don’t kill him immediately when they find out. But of course they couldn’t even if they wanted to because the bad guys are actually incompetent in this movie. Previous bad guys just underestimated John McClane, these guys are actually idiots.
The main henchman even goes off on a cliched and pointless monologue at one point, after having John and John Jr. tied up, and they tie John Sr’s hands _in front of him_ so he can lunge at a bad guy when the moment strikes, and John Jr’s _behind his back_ so he can reach the super secret spy knife/gun –which they previously gratuitiously showed him putting in his shoe– so he can cut his bonds and strike said moment.
Oh, and that bad guy? He’s meant to be malevolent but it’s so poorly executed that quite literally the only thing about him that I remember, let alone dislike, is that he chewed a carrot with his mouth open during his excruitatingly terrible monologue. That made me dislike him, but not for the right reasons.
This is the problem with structure of the movie: there are no surprises. Literally everything that happens is so obviously telegraphed that you always know what’s about to happen.
_Live Free or Die Hard_ was not a great movie but at least it tried to be something. I mean, it tried and _failed_, but at least it tried. _A Good Day to Die Hard_ feels like a movie that was made with a checklist. Big car chase? Check. One liners? Check. Kill a helicopter? Check.
It’s just a shame the checklist didn’t include “make this all fit together in any decent way.” Or maybe it did and they didn’t get to check that item off.