Alan Rickman has died


Really sad to hear the news of the passing on Thursday of one of the great British actors.  For me he will be always remembered as the best Die Hard villain ever … snappily dressed terrorist / thief ‘Hans Gruber’.  I have also enjoyed him in several other movies including Dogma, Galaxy Quest and Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

It’s actually come as a bit of a shock the same way as it did from hearing about David Bowie…and both were the same age when they died…spooky.

My thoughts as always go out to those closest to him.

has gruber

R.I.P.

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Merry Christmas!!!


Well the day is finally here.  Here’s what I got this year… 

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Consisting of this year’s prezzies was:  USB powered computer speakers (JBL Pebbles), the complete Breaking Bad on Blu-ray, A Nightmare On Elm Street seven film collection, again on Blu-ray and a surprise, the complete Die Hard also on Blu-ray.  Add to this a very nice pen that’s been engraved with my name on it, and the official Scarlett Johansson 2015 calendar … growl!  Not pictured was various smellies, clothing, sweets etc. etc.  All in all very very pleased.

So wishing everyone a really great Christmas and to those that I got presents for, hope you like what I got you!

Ho ho ho.

Craig.

White House Down


Viewed – 25 January 2014  Pay-per-view

Approaching this you get the feeling it’s going to immediately be what the latest Die Hard movie wasn’t … as in an actual Die Hard movie. Channing Tatum goes to the White House for an interview to become a Secret Service agent, bringing his plucky daughter along because she’s up on her politics and kinda has a thing for current President Jamie Foxx.  Yet whilst at the big white building, a group of terrorists attack and as you can imagine, Tatum is the only man who might be able to get the President out alive.

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Not a new idea by a long shot, but given a certain panache by director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow).  So expect gunfights, one-liners, a smattering of humour and plenty of things that go boom.  What I wasn’t expecting however was the fun partnership between Tatum and Foxx (making for one of the cooler Presidents in Hollywood history) and an overdose of rather bad CGI (the helicopters flying through the city looked awful).  Emmerich is known for having no subtlety, and believability pretty much goes out of the window in the second half of the movie, not helped by an increasingly annoying Joey King playing Tatum’s daughter (was she the best we could have got for a fairly important role?) and a barrel load of cheese towards the end.  Tatum looked the part (complete with white vest) but lacked a certain level of charisma I’d say.  James Woods also pops up and is very good, as is Maggie Gyllenhaal even if she gets very little to do.  Oh and every twist is so blatantly sign posted, I gave up expecting surprises and just enjoyed the ride.

This was a lot of fun, but could have been a classic if Emmerich had just applied the breaks (and his brain) for once.

Verdict:  3 /5

A Good Day To Die Hard


Viewed – 26 November 2013  Blu-ray

Back in 1987 Bruce Willis shocked audiences world wide by transforming his wise cracking, comedy image from popular TV series Moonlighting into credible action-hero machismo with the first in this franchise … arguably one of the finest action thrillers ever made.  Naturally such a well crafted movie would spawn sequels, and generally in my opinion, Die Hard has always delivered – but any good run had to come to an end, and yes, all the rumours you may have heard about this ill advised continuation of John McClane’s adventures are true.

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Willis travels to Moscow to track down his estranged son (Jai Courtney) who seems to have got himself in a heap of trouble with some Russian terrorists.  But before long father and son are reunited against a common enemy, and attempt to bond between the bullets flying and the bodies piling up.  Directed by relative-unknown John Moore, this frantic, moodily shot attempt at an action movie from the get-go fails on almost every level.  Firstly this isn’t just Willis playing McClane as a fish out of water New York cop (that would have been fun – but it’s not explored) he genuinely looks lost – not necessarily over the hill, but just in the wrong movie.  His wise-cracks are delivered awkwardly like Willis himself is bored with the character, and the setting and the plot just failed to resonate.  Add to this rapidly edited, confusing action that is mostly too fast and too chaotic to follow or enjoy, and well … I began to almost want to remove this from my PlayStation 3 and throw the original Die Hard in for the umpteenth time.

A plot twist towards the end was borderline interesting, but especially bad for this franchise, the villain was just a cliché, and his evil scheme nothing that clever.  I wouldn’t normally be so against a movie, but for a franchise I previously adored – this was an embarrassment.  Oh, and that cool free fall through a building and into water showcased in the trailer – that’s the best bit of the movie.

Verdict:  1 /5

Die Hard


Viewed – 05 September 2009  Blu-ray

This was easily one of the finest action movies of the eighties, a decade that spawned quite a few gems in the genre, including The Terminator, Predator and Lethal Weapon.  This also inspired a slew of copycat movies where everything was nick-named Die Hard on a … such as  Under Siege, Cliffhanger, Executive Decision.  So it was fun to revisit the film that mostly started it all, and with the casting of Bruce Willis, former TV actor, and not the muscle-bound caricature embodied by the likes of Stallone and Arnie, it felt fresh at the same time. 

Bruce plays New York cop John McClane, a likable, street smart eighties character on a par with Eddie Murphy’s Axel Foley.  He’s visiting his estranged wife on Christmas Eve during a party at the Nokatomi Plaza, an immense sky scraper slap bang in the centre of LA.  Yet whilst he’s there a group of terrorists seize control of the building, and it’s up to John McClane to save the day.  Watching it now, it feels very cliched but no less fun and still has some stunning moments and nail biting tension, with the charisma of Bruce totally pulling you in.  Alan Rickman’s Hans Gruber remains one of the finest screen villains ever, and is every bit Bruce’s equal.  The action is exciting, you route for John McClane as he tries to survive confrontation after confrontation, and the buddy relationship he builds with street cop Al is as enjoyable as I remember it being.  Even the moments of comedy seem well placed, and it still is shot with a style and confidence that helps the film to not have aged too badly.  Looking at this with the memory of the most recent Die Hard, it is still superior and more subtle, with little of that film’s jumps of logic and plausibility.  What helped this work so well is that not once does the film feel like it couldn’t happen.

The Blu-ray is, for a film that is over twenty years old, nothing to write home about, with a rather soft picture that does seem to improve when you take into consideration Jan De Bont’s impeccable camera work.  The sound is punchy and generally pleasing, and as far as extras go we get a very informative commentary from the director and the production developer, some spoof news footage, and well, that’s it.  Sad really when you conisder the otherwise hefty extras package available on the Special Edition DVD.  Overall, this film deserves better.

Verdict:  4 /5