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Tag Archive: A Good Day to Die Hard


a-good-day-to-die-hard screencap

Movie trailers are all about puffery–all about showing the best and hiding the worst and finding that right calculation that will get viewers into the theater.  Typically studios won’t lie to viewers, and if you see a movie that isn’t stellar you can often go back and see that a closer study of the trailer would have informed you of precisely what you were getting.  You might end up with a good movie despite bad trailer, but more often good trailers point us to a movie whose best scenes were in that trailer–and not much else.  A Good Day to Die Hard is one of those movies whose trailers pretty much pointed out that there would be a problem with the movie.  Like last year’s Total Recall remake, this fifth movie in the franchise of Bruce Willis as John McClane, ultimately just suffers from a poor script.  How hard is it to give fans what they want with these popular franchises?

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Nothing_Lasts_Forever_by_Roderick_Thorp

Review by C.J. Bunce

After five Die Hard movies it’s nearly impossible to separate the role of John McClane from the actor Bruce Willis.  But before John McClane there was Joe Leland, the name of the protagonist in Roderick Thorp’s very James Bond-sounding 1979 novel, Nothing Lasts Forever, which was adapted into the original Die Hard movie.  It’s back in print for the first time in 20 years to celebrate its 25th anniversary, to coincide with the theatrical release of A Good Day to Die Hard.

Joe Leland.  Former cop.  Die Hard changed some components of the story from the novel but none of it changed the spirit of the cop who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Instead of his wife Gennaro it is Joe’s daughter Stephanie and her two kids who become hostages when terrorists take over a Christmas Eve company party full of employees celebrating a big business deal. Instead of the high-rise Nakatomi building from Die Hard it’s the Klaxon Oil building in Los Angeles.  And the villain who would be played by Alan Rickman was Anton Gruber instead of Hans Gruber.

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Green Arrow and Superman

If there is a constant as we look ahead to movie franchises and other entertainment properties in 2013, it is the sequel, spin-off, and remake.  We’re sure someone will provide new content and stories for us for movies and TV from entirely new characters and worlds in 2013, but just take a look at the 24 biggest genre movies coming out next year and it is obvious that Hollywood is following the “tried and true” model of investing in current properties rather than investing money in “the new”.

So with that in mind, what are the big characters to watch out for next year–the characters we already know that seem like they can only get bigger?

Chris Pine as Jack Ryan

10.  Jack Ryan.  Back in the 1980s and 1990s it seemed like Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan was everywhere, first with Alec Baldwin taking on the role in The Hunt for Red October, then mega-star Harrison Ford in two sequels, followed by a big break and then Ben Affleck in the prequel Sum of All Fears.  With Star Trek star Chris Pine bringing us yet another prequel effort next December, we think a wide audience will come back again to see what this CIA agent has been up to.

Hugh Jackman as The Wolverine

9.  Wolverine.  I’ve always thought Wolverine should be Marvel Comics’ key property.  Spider-man always relied on Peter Parker (well, until recently) who seemed pretty planted in the psyche of the past.  The Avengers seemed too cartoony with characters with too little in common to really be a huge property (happily I was wrong!).  But Wolverine has a certain modern grittiness that readers, especially young readers, would seem to really attach to.  Audiences seem to like Hugh Jackman’s take on the character and his incredible fifth outing as Logan/Wolverine in July, titled The Wolverine should tell us if this will be the end of a big-screen Wolverine for a while or whether he will only get bigger.

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Three weeks ago borg.com posted the first preview for the fifth entry in the Bruce Willis as John McClane action movie franchise: A Good Day to Die Hard.  Frankly it wasn’t all that exciting.  Sure–it included a nice montage of action sequences, but what do Die Hard fans really want?  We think they want Bruce Willis being that guy from Moonlighting.  Bruce Willis being that barefoot cop in the Nakatomi building running across glass, trying to save his wife from Alan Rickman.  Bruce Willis as modern urban cowboy with his Yippi Ki Yay bit.  Basically, Bruce Willis being Bruce Willis.  Someone must have heard our wishes as the new trailer for A Good Day to Die Hard makes pretty clear that Die Hard 5 is set to be better than Die Hard 4: Live Free or Die Hard, a pretty forgettable entry in the John McClane arsenal of big budget blockbusters.

Check out the new trailer:

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What better way to spend next Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart than going to the premiere of the fifth Die Hard movie?  A Good Day to Die Hard again feature the tough as nails New York cop John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, the cop who walked over glass barefoot to save his wife in Die Hard, saved Dulles airport in Washington, DC from rogue military terrorists in Die Harder, saved New York from a bomber/thief in Die Hard with a Vengeance, and then saved America from a group of hackers in Live Free or Die Hard. 

Check out the first trailer just released this week:

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If you happened to watch this week’s episode of TNT’s hit TV series Leverage, you’ll have seen one of the best constructed episodes of the series so far.  The “Brains” Nathan Ford, played by Timothy Hutton, brings his team to track down his father, who broke into the federal patent and trademark office.  Soon we learn everyone has been set up, and a small town’s worth of SWAT and local law enforcement surround the building.  In strategizing the Leverage team’s way out, “Hitter” Eliot, played by Christian Kane, poses as a police officer to communicate with a cop outside the building–a cop played by Michael Paré (The Philadelphia Experiment, Greatest American Hero, Eddie and the Cruisers) already getting brow beaten by the local head of Homeland Security who has taken over the investigation of the break-in.  As with most episodes of Leverage we get an ample dose of great pop culture references (“Hacker” Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge) sports a tie and mimics Doctor Who saying “bow ties are cool”).  Here Eliot maintains all his dialogue in the voice and drawl of Die Hard’s John McClane, just as Bruce Willis did, in order to get through his walk of the gauntlet in the original Die Hard movie.  Die Hard interest is alive and well, after four movies in the franchise since 1988.

This winter Twentieth Century Fox announced that Bruce Willis will be returning as John McClane in 2013 with the fifth film in the franchise, A Good Day to Die Hard.  Fox indicated Patrick Stewart (Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Captain Picard) as a possible villain, to play a disgraced Russian general plotting to assassinate the visiting president.  John Moore is scheduled to direct a script by Skip Woods (X-Men Legends: Wolverine, The A-Team).  Bruce Willis has stated he wants to bring back Bonnie Bedelia as his wife from the first two films.  Shooting is scheduled to begin this month in Budapest, Hungary.

A Good Day to Die Hard is to follow John McClane as he goes to Moscow to convince the government of Russia to let his son John McClane, Jr. out of prison.  Somehow his son gets caught up in a global terrorist plot, and the inevitable McClane getting-in-over-his-head story will emerge.  It sounds like the story is in initial stages, but since the first and third movies were pretty good, maybe the curse of the even-numbered movie sequels here will get us back to the Willis we love to watch.  Casting for McClane Junior has included auditions by D.J. Cotrona, who will play Flint opposite Willis in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and Liam Hemsworth (Hunger Games).

But while we’re waiting until the scheduled release date of Valentine’s Day 2013, you can get a good dose of John McClane in comic legend Howard Chaykin’s graphic novel Die Hard: Year One.  Here was BOOM! Comics’s blurb for the comic series spanning eight issues through April 2010:

BOOM! Studios is proud to present America’s greatest action hero translated into the sequential art form for the first time! Every great action hero got started somewhere: Batman Began. Bond had his Casino Royale. And for John McClane, more than a decade before the first DIE HARD movie, he’s just another rookie cop, an East Coast guy working on earning his badge in New York City during 1976′s Bicentennial celebration. Too bad for John McClane, nothing’s ever that easy. Join legendary industry creator Howard Chaykin on a thrill ride that’s rung up over $1 billion in box office worldwide and become the gold standard for classic action! Yippee Ki Yay!

 

Hype aside, as with nearly everything Howard Chaykin touches, Die Hard: Year One is pure gold.  Twelve years before the Nakatomi building siege in Die Hard, Willis is a beat cop in Manhattan.  He is working with a loud-mouthed training officer that might as well be played by Dennis Franz.  The art by Stephen Thompson is well done, and McClane is drawn to resemble a young Bruce Willis, enough that you never doubt it with McClane’s trademark dialogue style.

The first four issues of Die Hard: Year One were compiled into volume 1 of a hardcover editionDie Hard: Year One, Volume 2 comprises Issues #4-8.

In Volume 1, it is the Fourth of July, 1976.  Writer Chaykin describes New York of 1976 almost as if he is there right now.  But he does not sugar coat NYC of 1976.  He describes an ugly place with ugly people, locals trying to rip off every tourist–locals trying to one up each other every chance they get.  Here, a new immigrant to the Big Apple from Indiana witnesses two cops killing another man, they spot her and chase her down.  McClane happens to get a detail as security on one of the tall boats in the bay, readying for the fireworks celebration, babysitting the wife of the third richest man in the world.  All hell breaks loose as an odd jumble of locals, including the two bad cops, led by a local hippy terrorist, try to blow up the rich man’s yacht and escape in a mini-sub with all the money onboard.  Plain clothes McClane hides below decks with the girl from Indiana, and McClane’s first big problem as police officer is underway.

Chaykin clearly knows the people of the 1970s and the streets of New York.  His descriptions feel real and his storytelling is superb.  We quickly get to know McClane, someone we already think we know, and the setting helps illustrate the put-upon cop we will later see on the big screen.  I remember the look and feel of July 4, 1976, vividly, and Thompson here captures the sites, fashions, and images incredibly well.

Die Hard: Year One, Volume 2 follows the exploits of McClane in the black-out of 1977.

Both volumes are available for sale online.

Look for special covers by current popular cover illustrator Jock in the back of the hardcover edition.

C.J.  Bunce

Editor

borg.com