Die Hard (1988)

Now I Have a Machine Gun.  Ho Ho Ho.

Die Hard (2012)I found myself at a loss on Christmas last year.  I felt like I should review a Christmas movie, but I wasn’t really able to think of any Christmas movie that I liked in any real way.  So, in lieu of a Christmas movie, last year I reviewed the Harry Potter series.  Small parts of those movies take place on Christmas.  This year I really thought about it.  What is my favorite Christmas movie?  I considered the Grinch, I considered Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and I of course considered Jingle All the Way, but none of those really stood out.  And then I thought of it.  A movie that takes place on Christmas and always fills my heart with cheer.  There could be no greater Christmas movie than Die Hard, based on a novel by Roderick Thorp, written by Steven E. de Souza and Jeb Stuart, directed by John McTiernan, and starring Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, Paul Gleason, William Atherton, Hart Bochner, Alexander Godunov, De’voreaux White, Robert Davi, Grand L. Bush, and James Shigeta.

On Christmas Eve, NYPD detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) arrives in Los Angeles with hopes of reconciliation with his wife, Holly Gennaro (Bonnie Bedelia).  McClane is greeted by a limo driven by Argyle (De’voreaux White) and is taken to Nakatomi Plaza, where Holly is attending an office Christmas party.  While McClane changes in Holly’s office, the festivities are interrupted by the arrival of Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his heavily armed group of goons, with intentions to steal $640 million dollars in bearer bonds from the vault.  Turns out that there’s only one person in the world oozing with enough badassitude to stop these guys, and he’s shoeless in the building’s duct system.  Yippee Kay-Yay, mother fucker.

This movie has well earned its classic status.  This is a fantastic Christmas movie.  And a fantastic action movie as well.  I guess most people would probably be more comfortable calling it an action movie, but it takes place in Christmas times, there’s some Christmas music in it, and McClane writes “Ho Ho Ho” on a corpse in the movie.  I think I rest my case.  And I don’t think it’s even worth bothering to argue this movie as an action movie.  I think I actually appreciate this type of action movie more than most others in some ways just because of the main character.  As much as I like a good, over-the-top, superhero action movie, there’s something special to a movie about a regular, everyman kind of character overcoming insurmountable odds with nothing more than some ingenuity and some massive balls.  John McClane is just what a man should strive to be.  He’ll fight terrorists and walk over glass barefoot just to do what’s right, even if it isn’t technically his problem because he’s way out of his jurisdiction.  And he keeps that mentality even if the LAPD that should be helping him is so ridiculously stupid that one should be more surprised that they got their shoes on the right feet when leaving the house in the morning than the fact that they weren’t willing to help McClane.  The FBI came off like frat boys that just wanted to shoot something and the Deputy Chief of Police was so dumb that I half expected him to be occupying himself in the background with a paddleball like Mel Brooks in Blazing Saddles.  The look of the movie worked much better than one might expect from an 80’s movie, even if the look of people getting shot can most closely be compared to someone throwing Jell-O squares at people’s chests.  The action is also always enjoyable, and rarely too far away.  Once the movie gets started with the action, it doesn’t get sidetracked any more than it has to.

What is there to say about the performances?  Bruce Fucking Willis.  The end.  Bruce Willis is so amazing in this movie that I find it difficult to put it into words.  He plays the everyman very well; almost as well as he plays the badass.  He seems just as comfortable with a wry comment as he does with an SMG.  Alan Rickman could also be well-served with having his middle name replaced with “fucking.”  He’s exactly the badass villain to counter the badass hero that is John McClane.  He’s charming and intimidating, sometimes simultaneously.  Bonnie Bedelia wasn’t the biggest part of the movie, but I found that what she did had some resonance.  She seemed like exactly the kind of tough chick that would attract a John McClane, while also being the kind that wouldn’t put up with his shit, and also exactly the kind that would eventually get divorced from a John McClane.  Reginald VelJohnson is also very likeable in this movie as the one member of the LAPD with a heart and a brain.  They also had two fantastic douche nozzle performances in this movie from Hart Bochner as Harry Ellis, the douche druggie who’s scheming on McClane’s lady, and William Atherton as the piece of shit reporter who doesn’t understand where to draw lines when involving people’s families into stories.  I had prior history with Atherton as I already hated him so much from his time in Ghostbusters, but I think Bochner might actually take the douche crown from him in this movie.  I was very surprised when anyone in that office was at all a.) surprised that his scheme would eventually get him killed and b.) saddened when he died.  My reaction would probably be more along the lines of, “Yeah, well that’ll happen, I suppose.”

I’m well aware of the fact that there is no point in reviewing a movie like Die Hard.  Everyone has had more than ample time to find out that this movie is awesome.  I really only chose to review it as a Christmas present to myself.  The story isn’t the most spectacular thing ever, but it’s probably upper echelon when compared to typical action movies, and there’s not a lot more satisfying than being able to relate to the hero of your movie because he’s just a regular guy, but then choosing not to pay attention to the fact that you would be nowhere near as awesome if you were in the same situations.  Great movie.  Watch it.  Own it.  Merry Christmas.  Die Hard gets “You throw quite a party” out of “It’s gonna need a paint job and a shit load of screen doors.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Leviathan (1989)

Talk About Having a Bad Day…

I really have no idea what inspired me to put today’s movie in my Netflix queue.  It wasn’t requested and I’ve never heard of it.  I know a couple of people that starred in the movie, but none of them would ever drive me to watch it.  My best guess was that Netflix recommended it to me based on my love of either the Abyss or Sphere and it decided, “Oh, he likes movies that happen underwater.”  Well, they were wrong.  I like GOOD movies that take place underwater just fine, but this movie wasn’t even well reviewed.  Netflix didn’t even think that I would like it, thinking that I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5.  Were they right?  Let’s find out as I randomly review Leviathan, written by David Peoples and Jeb Stuart, directed by George Pan Cosmatos, and starring Peter Weller, Amanda Pays, Ernie Hudson, Richard Crenna, Meg Foster, Hector Elizondo, Michael Carmine, Lisa Eilbacher, and Daniel Stern.

A mining crew run by Steven Beck (Peter Weller) is ahead of schedule in their underwater mining until one of their group named Buzz ‘Sixpack’ Parrish (Daniel Stern) discovers a wrecked ship called the Leviathan.  He brings back a safe he found on board for the crew to loot, but he pockets a flask for himself.  The ship’s doctor, Dr. Glen Thompson (Richard Crenna), finds a series of files marked “Deceased” amongst the findings, as well as a video tape that shows that something bad happened on the ship, but not what.  I suppose we could’ve reached that conclusion from the wrecked ship.  Something always goes wrong on a wrecked ship.  Sixpack shares the contents of the flask he found with crewmate Bridget Bowman (Lisa Eilbacher) later that day.  Shortly after that, Sixpack develops a rash and a strange, scaly skin condition and dies shortly after that.  The doctor decides he needs to examine the crew to make sure no one else is infected, and more specifically Elizabeth ‘Willie’ Williams (Amanda Pays), who was the one that retrieved Sixpack from the ship.  She’s fine, but Bowman starts showing signs of infection as well.  While Willie and Justin Jones (Ernie Hudson) go to retrieve the doctor, Bowman stumbles upon Sixpack, whose infection has continued after his death and started turning him into a strange creature.  She kills herself so she doesn’t go down the same path.  The infection continues as Bowman and Sixpack’s bodies start to fuse together into a creature, threatening the lives of everyone else on the ship.

This movie sucked all up on them balls.  It’s a super basic story that steals from anything and everything that it can while simultaneously being completely stupid, poorly crafted, and filled to the brim with actors who did not seem to want to participate.  As always, I will first mock the story.  It was the balls.  It’s poorly written and completely obvious in every way but worse still is that it can’t seem to decide what kind of monster movie it wants to be.  The first problem is the infection that turns people into zombies after they die.  But that zombie creature likes blood, apparently.  So now it’s a vampire movie.  But it’s also a hive mind, so is it an alien now, or just a science gone bad type of thing?  I’ll tell you what it is: it’s a rip off of better movies.  You got some Abyss in there; you’ve got a lot of The Thing in there, and then various things from whatever monster movie they felt they could cram in there.  For other movie clichés, you also have the group of people that are right on the border of going home, and we all know nothing bad ever happens to people that are so close to retirement.  There’s also plenty of stuff in the movie that are just stupid.  I thought it was dumb that everyone in the movie got so mad at the doctor in the beginning of the movie because he wasn’t in the command center when something went wrong with DeJesus’ suit while he was in the water.  What the hell was he supposed to do that Beck couldn’t?  And he lived anyway, so fuck off.  Later, when they are putting the creature in the airlock to send it out into the ocean, one of its limbs gets obviously cut off.  Why didn’t they jettison this as well?  When that same creature scratched Cobb’s chest, how did they not think to keep an eye on him for when he inevitably became infected himself?  When the corrupt company said they couldn’t pick up the crew because a hurricane was coming, why did they not think to even check on the surface weather themselves after they all already showed that they were suspicious of them, and showed that they had the ability to do it?  They didn’t figure that one out until the last ten minutes of the movie.

All these things make this movie super obvious.  You can see everything coming from a mile away.  When Sixpack and Bowman drink from the flask, you know it will start the troubles.  When they blatantly ignore the severed limb of the creature, you’re sure it will return.  When Cobb gets scratched, you now he’ll be infected.  When Jones and DeJesus decide to work on a puzzle together and he strangely goes into the next room and puts on headphones, you know that DeJesus is not long for this world.  That one was so blatant it made me angry.  Why would he agree to put a puzzle together and put on headphones as he got set up for it?  Did he just really want to hear about 30 seconds of his favorite song, or were they just obviously having the background noise blocked out for him so DeJesus could meet his demise?  The whole weather thing was completely obvious as well, and turned out exactly as I expected.  I predicted it so much sooner than the people in the movie that so much time had passed by the time they actually decided to check on it that I started to believe they weren’t going that way.  Then they did.  The ending of the movie fit spectacularly in with the rest of the movie by also being a pile of shit.  Having their escape pods lost to them, they just hop in their suits and have balloons drag them up to the surface.  Then, someone that knows the slightest thing about how the ocean works must’ve informed them that they would die without decompression (or they just watched the Abyss again to see if there was anything else they could steal) and fixed that problem by having the display on their suits say, “Decompression,” in big red letters.  All better.  Then, they’re up in the water, about to be rescued by a helicopter, and they decide to just throw one more thing in by randomly having a shark come in their vicinity.  They said it was trying to attack, but it didn’t seem that interested.  I guess I can’t be that bothered by this because they opened the movie the same way, trying to throw some “exciting” or “suspenseful” moment in that had nothing to do with the story and was just a random attempt to get their audience interested.  So, fuck you, movie.

I was extremely confused by the look of this movie.  When the opening credits were rolling, I saw that Stan Winston did the creature effects for the movie.  I thought to myself, “Hey, I know that name.  So at least this movie will have something going for it.”  I was wrong.  He must’ve just knocked out the creatures for this over a weekend.  They were all super goofy looking.  The first one that occurred to me was the little spider thing early on.  I thought it might have been a facehugger at first, but then I realized that it didn’t have a tail, or the ability to articulate its limbs.  It was about as effective as putting a rubber spider on the end of a stick and bouncing it up and down on the floor.  They could’ve opted for strings instead.  Later, when the creature’s limb was cut off, it split about three inches away from the point where the compression was happening.  Near the end, I started to wonder why they weren’t showing the creature full on.  Was it to create suspense?  To let our imaginations run wild?  Or because it looked like a retarded walking fish?  Probably that last one.

None of the performances in this movie were any good.  I recognize at least a few of them as decent enough actors, but I got the feeling that they were all aware that the movie they were in was a piece of shit.  Peter Weller seemed completely bored by the movie, and barely entertained the notion of emoting.  At the end of the movie, when only he and Willie survived to be greeted by the Martin (Meg Foster), the woman who owned the company that sent them down there and also decided to lie to them about their possibility of evacuation, I thought the movie couldn’t get any worse.  Then Peter Weller punches this woman in the face … and the movie won me back.  Excellent movie!  But seriously, is that what you want our hero to do?  Punch a woman in the face?  Yeah, she was a bitch and tried to leave them to their death, but you also had Willie standing right there.  Let her punch the bitch in the face.  No harm, no foul.  Ernie Hudson never did anything to impress in the movie, and Daniel Stern only annoyed the piss out of me.  Thankfully, he was the first one to die.  But before that, all he did was semi-constantly bang his dick against the two girls on the vessel, both of which just grinned and took it like a good, subservient woman should.  His only personality trait was being horny all the time, and not at all afraid to show it.  Speaking of which, I got really bummed out when Lisa Eilbacher killed herself in the movie, but only because I was sure she was the only chance I had of seeing boobs.  Both of the girls in the movie were hot, but Amanda Pays’ character was being obviously set up as the heroine, so we’d only see her naked if they did some unrealistic “let’s fuck because we’re about to die” thing with Beck.  When Eilbacher died, I knew there would be nothing in this movie at all for me.

Leviathan sucked.  It sucked out loud, in stereo surround sound.  The story was just a blatant cash grab, stealing from far better movies without the good sense to do anything right as they did it.  The look was goofy even though they employed one of the most famous names in monster effects, and every performance phoned it in.  Next time I can’t figure out why a movie is in my Netflix queue, I should probably trust my gut and not watch it.  On the other hand, this was a fun movie to make fun of.  But the movie itself is no fun, so don’t bother watching it.  Leviathan gets “I realize you must’ve gone through hell” out of “Gone?  Bitch, we’re still here!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.