Monday, June 24, 2013

Die Hard, Die Hard, Die Hard

"Looks like we're going to need some more FBI guys."

If you told me that Die Hard was the greatest action movie ever made, depending on the day, I might not argue with you. It really is that freaking good. Recently, my wife and I sat down and re-watched the entire series, but in reverse order since part five was recently released and I hadn't seen it yet. So I started there and worked my way backwards, and in the interest of keeping our marriage strong, Abby did not watch A Good Day to Die Hard. I watched it first before I would allowed her beautiful eyes to gaze upon it, and thank goodness for that.

It really is that freaking bad.

Anyway, for no particular reason, here is how I rank the five Die Hard films, best to last.

1. Die Hard. Well, duh.

2. Die Hard with a Vengeance. Opinions are mixed on this one, but I like it quite a bit. It's actually the most believable of the sequels: instead of finding himself in the "wrong place at the wrong time," John McClane is deliberately targeted this time due to his actions in a prior film. Samuel Jackson is a lot of fun in this one as McClane's partner.

3. Die Hard 2. It's been some time since I've seen this one, and truth be told, it was much better than I remember.

If you had the misfortune of seeing The Hangover 2, you probably remember when Bradley Cooper's character says something like "We f'ed up. Again." And then they proceeded to basically rehash the first movie, only in a way that managed to remove any possible urge to laugh.

Well, Die Hard 2 has a few moments like that, with McClane wondering out loud "How can the same (bleep) happen to the same guy twice?" Except Die Hard 2 at least had the dignity to not stage the exact same movie. It's not a masterpiece, but it is entertaining.

4. Live Free or Die Hard. You know, it's not bad, and probably better than it should have been. It does start to kind of creak and groan at the end, with McClane's stunts stretching all credibility, and the movie is at least twenty minutes too long, but overall, it's pretty good. I was happy with it when I saw it in theaters and I still am. Watch the uncut version for the full "Yippie Ki Yay" catchphrase.

5. Watching other people watch Die Hard. Yes, I would rather watch another person watch Die Hard than watch Die Hard 5.

6. Watching Youtube videos of people playing Die Hard video games.  Yes, really.

7. A Good Day to Die Hard. Just horrible on every level. I could say more but I won't waste my time, as this review from DVD Talk already said it all. A major disappointment. On the other hand, Rocky V looks a hell of a lot better now. Just for an example of how bad this was, they fly McClane over from Russia and don't even bother to show him on the plane to riff off of the classic original opening of Die Hard. The only part I enjoyed was the car chase, but even that was filled with a sleepy Bruce Willis performance. If you do insist on watching this, make sure you watch the theatrical. For unexplainable reasons, Lucy McClane's two-part cameo was excised for the director's cut.

Oddly, Die Hard 5 is the only one where the story was actually created to be a Die Hard film. The first Die Hard began as a novel called Nothing Lasts Forever and was later pegged to be a sequel to Commando (wrap your mind around that for a bit). Die Hard 2 was adapted from a novel called 58 Minutes. Die Hard 3 was actually pegged as both a film called Simon Says and then Lethal Weapon 4 (Sam Jack is clearly in the Danny Glover role). Die Hard 4 was to be a stand-alone film about cyber-terrorists. Here's hoping they create the promised Die Hard 6 from an idea pegged for another film.

Coming soon: A definitive list of the other "Die Hard" movies, i.e. Speed is considered Die Hard on a bus. Someone needs to catalog those, and it might as well be me.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

My First Objective Review

Talk about a late birthday present - the first "objective" review of On The Backs of Dragons! I've received positive feedback from a number of people that I know that have either read it, or begun to, but one can't help but take those with a grain of salt. The mores of our society preclude most people from telling me to my face that they hate it, even if they do - or to put it in the way that only Marty McFly could, most people won't say: "Get out of here kid, you've got no future." Which is good, because I don't think I could take that kind of rejection. . .

Anyway, it's understandable that I'd be a little nervous to see my first piece of objective feedback. I do have a couple of reviews on Amazon, which were positive, but they are pretty generic. But this review on a website called EAB Publishing Company would qualify as my first totally objective, substantive review I think, although it only covers the first 100 pages. Here's a highlight:
I started reading On the Backs of Dragons and quickly got into it.  The characters are well developed and the author gives them each a unique presence so you quickly keep them apart.  The world On the Backs of Dragons takes place in also has a lot of room to develop back-story and I found myself wanting to know more about it.  For an author’s first book I am impressed so far.  The opportunities so far have been minor.  There are some grammar and structural opportunities, but nothing you can’t skim past.  I feel like there are also some points where the book could be longer to better establish character personalities and story points, but nothing major.  I am reading on.
Anyway, the reason I am calling it a birthday present is because it was published on my birthday! Kind of cool. Anyway, I hope he enjoys the other 250 pages. The issues he has with the book are hopefully just my lack of experience showing - for example, when I had to make a decision about cutting back story or keeping the story moving, I almost always cut back story. I wanted to make it a swift read not bogged down with needless details, or details that were not central to the story anyway. I don't doubt that I may have taken it to extremes. As far as grammar errors, I won't pretend to be pleased about those!

Anyway, this made my day, and I am very grateful that Mr. Benson chose to read and review my book (coincidentally, I am from the Benson area of Omaha and was once a Bunny).