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Eat My Lead

Hello, hello. How are you (yes, You?)? I'm pretty tip-top, apart from the fact that I just slipped on the last-but-one step on the stairs and landed on my arse. >.< I seem to have come off unscathed, even in the sense-of-humour department, so that's lucky I guess! ;-)

Well, now; Valentine's Day - I will deal with this topic swiftly in case anyone reading this has an especial dislike of the festival - we kept things low-key this year, and very nice it was too. On the day itself I cooked a beautiful curry for David (complete with homemade flatbreads - worth doing, they were easy and delicious), and yesterday he took me out to Barnstaple for the day. We had a meal at a fish restaurant and then went to see the new 'Die Hard' film. The meal was very good; the film, however, was pretty dire, to the point that I had to try not to giggle in places. Maybe I'd better try and review it...

I would normally say 'SPOILER WARNING' right about now, but this is a 'Die Hard' movie - you already know pretty much what is going to happen before you buy the ticket. So, let's just get right down to brass tacks. From the beginning there are problems with this movie; with any action flick you've got to suspend disbelief and let all manner of improbabilities past your inner critic, but this one really scraped the barrel. For a start, they move the action to Russia. Why? Well, it has something to do with John McClane's son having been arrested there. It turns out the son is in fact a spy. I wondered whether the script had started out as a spy flick only to have the 'Die Hard' stuff grafted on afterwards.

Anyway, McClane goes to Russia to try and bail out his son, thinking he's got himself in over his head with some criminal activity. Then there are a lot of explosions at the courthouse for reasons of PLOT and McClane comes across his son by chance, fleeing in a van. Now he decides to follow him through Moscow, which is of course only possible for him to do by stealing vehicles, assaulting civilians, trashing public architecture, driving off flyovers and across brand new luxury cars and baiting the Russian spooks who are out to get his son. Usually this elaborate, extravagant, ostentatious explosion of stunts and mayhem and destruction would not happen within the first few minutes of a film. It's like the guy is so traumatised by all his prior experiences that he goes into a sort of semi-hypnotic state and just starts driving over everything in his path. It's not even that he seems that bothered about his son - he just goes rather calmly berserk. It just gave the impression that the filmmakers had zero confidence in their product - as if they felt people would just get up and leave the cinema if they didn't transfix them to the spot with an over-the-top show of excessive stunt driving.

The plot, such as it is, revolves around this Russian chap, subject to a corrupt trial, who is sprung from the courthouse. Everyone wants some file that he has hidden. So far, so lifted-wholesale-from-stock-Cold-War-era-spy-nonsense. The CIA is trying to acquire him and his file. McClane has blundered into their operation - he didn't know Junior was a spook and just (un)helpfully turned up to throw a spanner in the works. Soon we meet our villains, who are so blah and so hackneyed that even Central Casting would have raised an eyebrow. The entire point of 'Die Hard' is to pit this apparently everyman, wrong-place-wrong-time, common-or-garden cop against some supercilious supervillain whose elaborate plan has failed to take account of the common sense, vest-wearing approach essayed by Our Hero. Also, it all has to happen in America, represented in the person of Our Hero, defending his territory from evil foreign terrorists. It's not subtle, but at least it makes some kind of sense. In this film, not only has Our Hero been transplanted to another country, where crime prevention is really none of his concern (he even keeps saying how he's 'on vacation', as if this constitutes A Funny Joke), he mostly just stands around, occasionally loosing off a fusillade of bullets, now and then ruminating on fatherhood, or failing to have snappy dialogue with his son. He is never pitted directly against a villain, there is no relationship, no duel. Much is made of his cop's intuition which allows him, on several occasions, for no apparent reason, to spot when someone is playing him false; and yet, he doesn't spot who is the real villain of the piece right until the end.

Oh, the end... really, it's quite something. For reasons of PLOT (again) we end up at Chernobyl. Yes, Chernobyl - cultural shorthand for everything that was bad about Soviet administration. These alleged writers can't even imagine their own 'really bad place in which bad stuff happens' - they just graft their holey old plot on to this ready-made hell. o__O (Our Hero and son get there by stealing a car. They even do that in a stupid way - Bruce manages to get hold of the keys, although we are not shown how, and there just so happens to be a load of guns in the trunk... how very convenient!!) Meanwhile, the villains have already arrived at the blighted power plant. There's a daft bit of business where some stuff gets sprayed around to 'neutralise the radiation' (and fill up a plot hole, I guess; how could Our Hero swan in wearing nothing but a shirt if the Geiger counter is off the scale?!). I have no idea if that's even a real thing or not - even if it is, it comes over as 'makey-uppey-movie-science' in this setting.

Then we find out Russian Prisoner Guy and his supposedly estranged daughter who played him false to the Russian spooks are actually the real villains and have engineered the whole thing to get their mitts on some enriched uranium that was in the secret vault where the non-existent file was supposed to be but wasn't (because it never existed... uh, are you still with me...?!). Of course McClane's cop's nose now twitches and he realises what's going on. Now all he and sonny boy have to do is stop the bad guys making off with the uranium. I can't explain exactly how he manages this - mostly it seems to involve shooting people, falling off things, attaching a truck to a helicopter whilst in mid air (...yes, really) and not getting shot by Russians with classic action-flick poor aim disease. Then Russian Prisoner Guy falls off something to his death (and he falls really badly - I don't just mean that it's curtains for him, I mean the actor's performance is bad, it looks like something from a spoof of a bad film; perhaps that's what this is...!). Evil Daughter then goes all kamikaze and crashes the helicopter. Meanwhile, Our Hero and sonny boy do a bit more falling, landing in a handy swimming pool provided for the purpose. (More terrible explainy writing: they even make the point of telling us that it's 'only rainwater' in case we were worried they were taking a risky dip in some heavy liquid!)

And then, cut to the two of them getting out of a little plane back on home turf in the good ol' U S of A, to be reunited with Our Hero's daughter/sonny boy's sister. Thee End.

A pet hate of mine in modern films, something that blights this already much-blighted effort, is that bluey-green dingy tint that is often imposed on movies that are trying to 'look serious'. No 'Die Hard' movie needs to be serious, or even look serious; really, it just makes it look like there's something on the lens. Or makes it seem even less realistic than it does already. Aha: well, there it is - I think I may have the solution to the whole hot mess. I am thinking perhaps none of this nonsense ever happened at all... perhaps the whole thing is taking place in McClane's head. Yep, this is one movie where the only right and proper conclusion is "...But it was all just a dream!" XD

Anyway, that's enough movie criticism from Yrs Trly! It is quite fun to watch a really bad film now and again, and I can't think I was the only person to have rated it so low - throughout the film people kept getting up to go to the toilet, more often than I have ever known on any visit to the cinema. Seriously, it was like every five seconds - either the natives of Barnstaple have tiny bladders or Bruce Willis crashing a lot of cars was not enough to hold their interest!

Changing the subject, from garbage to gold... Whilst writing this screed I've been listening to the new album by Guapo. It's pretty good on a first listen, more melodic/prog-like than their previous stuff. Will need more listens before I can say anything coherent, and I haven't looked at the accompanying DVD yet, but all indications are pretty impressive! :-)

...There, it's nice to end on a positive note, yes?!

I hope your weekend has been enjoyable, with as few gravity-induced bottom-injuries/lousy films as possible...! ;-P


( 11 confidences — Confide in me... )
Feb. 17th, 2013 06:36 pm (UTC)
A Good Day to Die Hard was really terrible. I think if it hadn't had Mary Elizabeth Winstead in it, who is only in it for about two minutes anyway, it would have been unwatchable. I normally like the Die Hard movies, which at least are usually fun, but this wasn't even fun.
Feb. 18th, 2013 04:06 pm (UTC)
Yeah, 'fun' wasn't even in it really... to call it 'workmanlike' would be insulting to workmen!! ;-P
Feb. 18th, 2013 09:45 am (UTC)
It's definitely not real that you can 'neutralise' radiation with a spray. Even Febreze would baulk at claiming that one. I actually have a minor obsession with Chernobyl (as multiple books at home would attest), so I'm almost tempted to go and see it just to be appalled.
Feb. 18th, 2013 04:17 pm (UTC)
Haha, I now have visions of the next Febreze ad...

Voiceover: We blindfolded these gullible idiots with no sense of smell and left them in a disused nuclear power station, generously sprayed with new improved anti-radiation Febreze in 'Wild Flower Bouquet'... and what did they say?

Idiot: Mmm, it smells like Beyonce's dressing room on the last night of her sell-out world tour.

Moron: The perfume is divine, just like a host of flatulent seraphim!

Bozo: I'm getting lightheaded, I think it's brought on my hayfever...

[One by one they keel over from the radiation]

Onscreen disclaimer: Not for use against radioactivity.

Voiceover: All new and improved Febreze, the fragrant way to succumb to pollution!

Yep, I should've had a career in advertising, clearly. >.<

Well, if you do give it a go, I'd bring an mp3 player if I were you; that way you can ignore the preliminaries and only start paying attention when it's time to be appalled by inaccurate depictions of real-life sites of tragedy...! ;-P
Feb. 18th, 2013 11:51 pm (UTC)
It sure beats those slightly creepy twin boys and their granny. Or the painfully unconvincing "fresh!" girl.
Feb. 18th, 2013 10:09 pm (UTC)
Mmm! Is it wrong to desire a curry and flatbreads at 9.08am? :)
Feb. 20th, 2013 07:00 pm (UTC)
Not a bit of it, that is probably a thoroughly traditional breakfast in some countries! :-)
Feb. 19th, 2013 10:46 am (UTC)
I don't know if you do much gaming, but have you ever looked at the STALKER games? They're the best use of Chernobyl as a setting I've ever seen - unremittingly bleak and unsettling. I love them.
Feb. 20th, 2013 07:02 pm (UTC)
I blush to admit (well, not really...) that I don't really do any gaming at all. Chernobyl would I'm sure make a wonderfully atmospheric and immersive setting for a game. It's a shame the 'Die Hard' set builders made it so cardboardy and improbable really!
Feb. 26th, 2013 04:12 pm (UTC)
I didn't think you would have, you didn't strike me as the sort to waste time like that :)

However, I love that desolation as a setting - it adds atmosphere and think that Chernobyl, whilst awful, is also a great setting for something bleak.

Sounds like Die Hard wasn't it though :)

This is very atmospheric though: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vcNylGYq-v4
Mar. 3rd, 2013 04:54 pm (UTC)
Haha, well, I think I tend to waste time in my own imagination rather than in someone else's. ;-)

I suppose it's quite difficult to go to a place like Chernobyl in real life (and of course many would prefer not to risk it!), but the lure of abandoned places is strong... a really good rendering in game form is probably the best way to 'visit'!
( 11 confidences — Confide in me... )

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This journal is not a private diary, it is more like an occasional, imaginary column. Therefore, much of it is on public display. However, if you want to read my occasional attempts at creative writing, my Caution Elf tells me I should only show that stuff to my friends. You know what to do. :-)

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