Tag Archive: Die hard


Marvin Robot voice Alan Rickman

The great British actor Alan Rickman died yesterday in the same week as singer and Labyrinth star David Bowie, and the Internet is full of tributes.  Alan Rickman gave us some great performances and as genre performers go, few have traversed more of our favorite franchises than Rickman.  In honor of Mr. Rickman let’s take a walk through our favorites in case you might have missed one.

Most of us first met Rickman as the villain Hans Gruber in 1988’s Die Hard, the first of action-packed films featuring Bruce Willis as John McClane.  Rickman’s ability to portray the seething, classic, moustache-twirling villain won us over from the beginning, and would be a hallmark of the characters he would play over the course of a quarter of a century.  At least one of my friends would recount Quigley Down Under as his next memorable film, but most remember well his Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1991 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner.

Nottingham Rickman

All in, Rickman was featured in three of my all-time top ten fantasy film favorites: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.  It is the sequel to the latter, Alice Through the Looking Glass, where we will witness Rickman’s last performance on screen later this year, as the voice of the blue caterpillar.  It will be difficult not to tie Rickman to his Severus Snape incarnation in all eight Harry Potter films for an entire generation–and many generations to come.  He stepped into the shoes of Snape more than any of his film roles.

Severus Snape Rickman

But Rickman won’t be remembered only for his major fantasy film roles, as two of his films struck chords for fans of sci-fi movies.  His parody of a Spock-type alien Dr. Lazarus in the 1999 Star Trek parody Galaxy Quest was second to none.  And his voicing of the droopy robot Marvin in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy opposite Martin Freeman and Zooey Deschanel added the gravity needed to make the 2005 movie another sci-fi classic.

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Predator in 3d

Review by C.J. Bunce

As one of the top 10 science fiction movies of all time, Predator is one of those movies you’ve likely watched over and over.  Directed by John McTiernan, who would go on to perfect the action movie genre with Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October, Predator is equal parts action and horror highlighted by an incredible science fiction villain as realized by the great Stan Winston.  But if you haven’t seen Predator since its theatrical release in 1987 or watched it only on video or DVD, then it’s time to watch it again.

Although it wasn’t originally filmed or released in 3D, Predator is now available in 3D as Predator 3D.  Remastered and converted to 3D using the same methods to up-convert movies like those used for I, Robot 3D and Top Gun 3D, McTiernan’s direction and Donald McAlpine’s cinematography just happened to be perfect for a Predator upgrade.  Who could have thought the 75% of Predator that is primarily jungle chases and little alien presence could still be so incredibly suspenseful?

Predator 3d limited edition

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Miss Fury Dynamite Comics

We tried on for size almost every new book that was released from comic book publishers like Dynamite Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, Archaia/BOOM!, and Image.  We tried to sample the best of all that Marvel and DC Comics had to offer, too, and although we didn’t have enough time to review everything we did try to put out there for your consideration those titles we thought our readers might like to check out, especially those with a sci-fi, fantasy, or retro bent.  Our pull list included issues from Afterlife with Archie to Django Unchained, from Liberator to Larfleezeand from Velvet to The X-Files.  This past month we have reviewed the year-long run of the best of these titles, as we narrowed our selections to 21 of the very best entries in genre entertainment outside of TV and movies, which we revealed here yesterday.  So here are the rest of our picks for the Best of 2013.

Kane Starkiller borg by Mike Mayhew

Best Borg Appearance — Kane Starkiller, The Star Wars.  Borgs showed up everywhere this year, from the lead characters on Almost Human, to Doctor Who, to countless comic book series including Justice League and RoboCop.  Our favorite appearance came from the young mind of George Lucas as he created the original script that would later be edited into the original Star Wars trilogy.  And through Dark Horse Comics’ The Star Wars monthly comic book event we learned one of his best ideas was merged into other roles and one of his best characters entirely cut.   That character was Jedi Kane Starkiller, who would reveal his cyborg chest implants that kept him alive, later to heroically give up this life-saving technology to save his friends.

MissFury001-Cov-Renaud

Best Comic Book Series — Miss Fury, Dynamite Comics.  A uniquely crafted tale, a compelling and seductive superhero, great action panel after panel, sourced in a long-shelved classic character of the Golden Age of comics.  Rob Williams and Jack Herbert’s Miss Fury is a carefully rendered update that rings true to the edgy spirit of the world’s first female superhero.  Beautiful panels set up an ever-changing time and place and pull readers along for the ride.  And stuck-out-of-time Marla Drake and her alter ego Miss Fury could not have looked better, whether carving out her place in the 1940s or as she was teleported into the future.  It’s a series no one should miss.

Clint Barton Hawkeye by Fraction

Best Comic Book Writing – Matt Fraction, Hawkeye.  Last year revealed one of the best comic book series we ever read, focusing on that “other” superhero archer, the second tier Marvel Comics superhero Hawkeye.  Matt Fraction gave us the most interesting set-up and look into the daily life of a superhero who isn’t Captain America or Iron Man.  This year he kept up the momentum in his Hawkeye monthly series, providing stories that challenged readers, each issue taking a different peek into Clint Barton, another costumed superhero called Hawkeye, and their trusty dog.

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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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Red 2 long banner

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s interesting that the publicity folks for RED 2 have stressed in their latest movie trailer no Robots, Monsters, or Superheroes.  Although we’re not so sure RED 2 isn’t chock full of its own breed of superhero, it’s true you’ll find no monsters or robots here.  RED 2, previewed at borg.com here, is definitely not like any other film creating waves this summer.  But it is the most fun you’ll have at any movie this year.

You don’t need to ask, for example: Were too many people killed in the movie’s finale (as with Man of Steel)?  Or lower your normal standards a bit to allow yourself to just plain have fun watching a giant robot take on a giant monster from the ocean’s depths (as with Pacific Rim).  Or struggle with friends over whether or not Benedict Cumberbatch was cast appropriately as a sci-fi villain (as with Star Trek Into Darkness).  With RED 2, you don’t have to think about all those things that distract you from just having a good time.  Do the heroes kill a lot of people in RED 2?  You bet, and we like it that way.

Red 2 clip A

What RED 2 will make you do is think about where it stands in the line-up of the best of Bruce Willis’s movies.  When was the last time you saw such a good Bruce Willis film that made you work through that analysis?  The reality is that Bruce Willis’s performance as retired spy Frank Moses in RED 2 is up there with his first run as John McClane in the original Die Hard, and we haven’t seen him play a character this cool since Pulp Fiction.  Pull up your Netflix queue and take a second look at him in Striking Distance, Twelve Monkeys, and The Fifth Element and you might just add RED 2 to your list of Best of Bruce keepers.

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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