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Die Even Harder than the Last Time You Died and then Lived Free Again! With A Vengeance!

die hard5A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (2013)

DIRECTOR: John Moore

STARRING: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch, Radivoje Bukvic

PLOT: Supercop John McClane runs out of stuff to destroy in the United States, so he meets up with his estranged son in Russia and destroys stuff there!

RATING: R for gunfire, explosions, violence, Bruce Willis and his potty mouth.

It’s hard to believe it’s been over 25 years since Bruce Willis exploded on to the big screen in Die Hard. The movie made Willis a superstar, and is a crowning achievement in the action movie genre. Willis’s movie alter ego Detective John McClane is one of the greatest action movie characters of all time; a man who has thwarted terrorist plots, killed armies of bad guys, and destroyed more property than your average  Category 3 Hurricane. And like an Energizer Bunny who curses a lot, McClane just keeps going and going…

If you’ve never seen any of the Die Hard movies (and in all seriousness if you haven’t, then we cannot be friends), here’s a quick synopsis of the franchise:

Die Hard (1988) – John McClane blows up an office tower in Los Angeles, kills Alan Rickman, saves Christmas.

Die Hard 2 (1990) – John McClane blows up an airport in Washington D.C., drives a snowmobile, saves Christmas again.

Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995) – John McClane destroys Wall Street, a subway, a cargo ship, and kills Jeremy Irons all with a terrible hangover and Samuel L. Jackson screaming at him throughout the whole movie.

Live Free or Die Hard (2007) – John McClane thwarts a cyber terrorists plot to rob the internet, beats up a fighter jet, miraculously stops himself from killing Justin Long.

Now John “yippee kay yay” McClane is back in A Good Day to Die Hard. This movie takes place in Russia, where the bad guys are big and beefy, the weather is dull and dreary, and those Yakov Smirnoff “In Soviet Russia” jokes are even less funny.  

As the movie opens, McClane is hanging around the Police station loading up his gun and waiting to shoot something when he learns his son Jack (Jai Courtney) has been arrested in Russia and is on trial for attempted murder. McClane heads off to Russia to patch things up with his estranged boy and have one of those charming father/son moments before the execution.

McClane is barely off the plane in Moscow before all heck breaks loose. The courthouse where Jack is being held for trial is attacked by a squad of heavily armed guys; which is par for the course since the Die Hard franchise invented the squad of heavily armed mercenaries that show up out of nowhere. The armed guys are trying to take out a political prisoner named Komarov (Sebastian Koch) who has some top secret info dating back to the Chernobyl disaster that evil Russian official Viktor Chagarin (Sergei Kolsesnikov) needs to destroy the world or to make him rich or something; it’s all the same with these Die Hard villains: money and world domination. But I guess this kind of villain is more exciting than a villain who only wants to control all the used car lots in the greater Sacramento area. To each his own I guess.

Anyway, Jack helps Komarov escape the courthouse attack, and as they flee, they run into dear ol’ Daddy McClane in the parking lot. A massive car chase follows between Jack, the heavily armed mercenaries, and of course McClane who just can’t miss an opportunity to destroy more Russian property than when the Luftwaffe was in town. When McClane finally catches up with Jack (and most of Moscow has stopped burning), he learns why sonny boy has missed so many Thanksgiving dinners: Jack is a deep cover secret agent assigned to rescue Komarov from prison so he can rat out Chagarin to the CIA. When Jack’s cover is blown and Chagarin’s heavily armed thugs destroy the CIA safehouse, the wild and crazy McClane boys are on the run trying to stay one step ahead of Chagarin while trying to figure out the super huge secret Komarov has been hiding all these years. Spoiler alert: It’s not the world’s best Chicken Kiev recipe.

McClane and son move from one action packed shootout to the next as Bruce Willis fires off his usual wisecracks and Jai Courtney does his best to remind you he is not Channing Tatum or Sam Worthington.  Luckily Jack McClane has inherited his Father’s Wile E. Coyote like ability to survive falls from very high places. I figure by the next Die Hard sequel they’ll just admit that John McClane and Wolverine from The X-Men are brothers from a different mother.

A Good Day to Die Hard has all stuff you’ve seen in all the previous Die Hard movies, and judging by the lazy line readings and the “Has the check cleared” look he has on his face for the entre run time, maybe Bruce Willis knows this too. I guess they thought having McClane’s badass secret agent son along for the ride would keep things fresh, but unfortunately Jai Cortney is so wooden it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if his parents were in fact a couple of Adirondack chairs.

But hey, at least John McCLane got to travel to another country in this installment! Okay, he left a huge crater where suburban Moscow used to be, but everyone does something stupid while on vacation.

Did I ever tell you about the time I ate some bad sushi and then went on the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney World?

It was not the happiest place on Earth that day, believe you me…


A Real American Sequel!

G.I. Joe

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION (2013) Director: Jon M. Chu Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, Channing Tatum, Ray Park, and Bruce Willis Rating: PG-13 for guns, explosions, swordfights, and fun with nuclear weapons.

  G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a sequel to G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra which was based on a long running animated series which was based on a super popular line of toys from the 1980’s.


Pictured: The happiest boys in the world.

G.I. Joe fans were pretty psyched when the Rise of Cobra came out, because if any of you readers were around when those toys and the cartoon were popular, you remember how cool the Joes were.

And if any of you readers were around when the G.I. Joe dolls were 12 inches tall and featured the patented “kung fu grip,” then you’re an old person like me! I wonder when the nurse will be around with dinner. I hope we’re having Salisbury Steak tonight!

Anhoo, despite turning many of the popular G.I. Joe cartoon heroes and villains into living breathing human beings, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was (as we say in the critics biz) a terrible movie, which is hard to believe because the film starred Channing Tatum and the youngest Wayans brother!

I know! A Wayans Brother! How could it not succeed!

Well, you know the old saying; if at first you don’t succeed, make another movie, so G.I. Joe: Retaliation exploded across the big screen earlier this year. It’s more of a reboot then a sequel, with lots of new faces and cameos by guys with old faces. But they kept what was really important to the whole Joe saga – guns, explosions, the eternal battle between good and evil, and Cobra Commander’s really cool helmet:



As the movie opens Duke (Channing Tatum) and Snake Eyes (Ray Park) are running the G.I. Joes because all the other guys from the first movie were smart and signed a one picture deal. Duke and his new best pal Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson, who is big enough to block roads) are ordered by the President (Jonathan Pryce) to lead the Joes on a secret mission to recover some stolen nuclear warheads at a remote base in Pakistan. Things go horribly wrong and Duke and most of the other Joes are murdered by a squad of mysterious soldiers in black helicopters because A) The President is actually Cobra secret agent Zartan in disguise and B) Channing Tatum had to leave the movie early to go film Magic Mike 2 or something.

Roadblock and two other Joe team members Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) and Flint (DJ Cotrona) survive the ambush because nothing short of an atom bomb can kill Dwayne Johnson, and now they must figure out what the heck is going on and who they have to kill to set things right.

Cobra ninja Stormshadow (Byung-hun Lee, the only other cast member from the previous movie) breaks Cobra Commander out of a high tech prison withe the help of Cobra mercenary Firefly (Ray Stevenson) and his electronic fireflies that blow stuff up.  Snake Eyes (who is also a ninja, remember?) and his assistant ninja Jinx (Elodie Yung) tail Stormshadow to a mountain fortress in the Himalayas and a huge battle ensues between Snake, Jinx, and other assorted ninjas on the side of a mountain. Snake has to bring Stormshadow back to Japan to wrap up the least important story line from the previous film, which is okay I guess.

Not for nothing Snake Eyes, but 99.7% of your unit was just murdered, but that’s cool – you go off to the other side of the world to settle an old family thing. No problemo dude, I’m sure Roadblock and the others will be okay.

Meanwhile, Roadblock, Flint, and Lady Jaye figure that there is something not right with the President who ordered them to be slaughtered in the desert, so they hatch a plan to unmask the impostor. They seek out the help of the only surviving member of the G.I. Joes who wasn’t in the fist movie to help them – General Joe Colton, (Bruce yippe kay yay Willis) who has enough guns hidden in his nice suburban home to take on Cobra personally.

Oh, part of the plan to stop Cobra from taking over the world involves infiltrating a Presidential Ball, giving Lady Jaye an excuse to squeeze into a slinky red outfit that flaunts her lady parts. She’s such a good soldier. Way to take one for the good of the unit, Jaye!


Yo Joe!

G.I. Joe: Retaliation moves to an explosive conclusion as Roadblock, Lady Jaye, Flint, General Joe, Snake Eyes, Stormshadow (who’s a good guy now) and Jinx spring into action to prevent the fake President/Zartan from destroying key nations with a bunch of killer satellites, rescue the real President from an underground bunker, and stop Cobra Commander from becoming king of the world and instituting a “no cool helmets except for mine” law across the land.

A big improvement over the previous movie, G.I. Joe: Retaliation had enough action and fun to make me want to see a sequel.

Hopefully the sequel will have a Bruce Willis who speaks more than five lines of dialogue and a subplot where Lady Jaye has to go undercover as a bikini model/mud wrestler!

Okay, that’s asking too much. They don’t need Bruce Willis in the sequel.

They Call Us Bruce!


LOOPER (2012) Director: Rian Johnson Starring: Bruce Willis, Joseph Grodon-Levitt, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels Rating: R for violence, language, and Piper Perabo’s nekkid boobs! 

True story!

The other day I was sitting in my living room drinking a cup of Celestial Seasons tea and watching the two part episode of  Knight Rider where Michael Knight battles his evil twin Garth and his supertruck Goliath (which was awesome by the way), when suddenly another me emerged from the bedroom.

I must admit I was a little freaked out when me walked in on me. Aside from the possibility of tearing the space time continuum like in the sci fi movies, I never realized how funny I walked.

“Hey me. I’m future you,” my other self said. “I used a time machine to get here. From the future.”

“Oh hi.” I replied. “I don’t know if you know this, but we walk funny. ”

“Yeah, listen up Sparky, I have no time for that idiotic chatter you call humor,” my other self yelled.

Apparently I become a bit of an asshat in the future.

“Later on today you will decide to do another one of your DVD Critics blog things. Whatever you do, DO NOT watch and review Looper, a time travel thriller starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. If you do, the future will be ruined beyond repair!”

“Really?” I asked nervously.

“Nah, I’m just messin with ya,” my future self said. “Review whatever movie you want. It won’t have any impact on the future whatsoever…. Or will it?  Oh, and you’re out of aspirin.”

And then the other me flipped me off and vanished.

Needless to say, I turned off Knight Rider and watched Looper because I’m not going to let anyone (even myself) influence what movies I review for this blog. Plus, I wanted to cover my bases because I’m not sure if my future self was just yanking my chain.

Man, when do I become such an asshat?

In the year 2074, time machines exist but the only people who use them are mobsters because they know how to have fun. Since you can’t dispose of bodies in 2074 (apparently shovels are extinct or something) anyone the mob wants to kill is set back in time to 2044 where a “looper” is waiting with a big gun to do the deed.

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt with a fake nose) is a looper in good standing with local mob boss Abe played by a rumpled Jeff Daniels, who looks like he was woken from a nap right before they filmed his scenes.  Joe loves killing time travelers by day and partying at night with his fellow loopers in an unnamed city that is apparently only inhabited by the douchey hipsters from those Ketel One vodka commercials.

Sadly all good things must come to an end for Joe and his looper pals when a future crime lord known as The Rainmaker starts “closing the loop” by sending any old loopers still alive in 2074  back in time to be killed by their younger selves, which is a really crappy retirement gift no matter what time period you live in.

When young Joe finds himself pointing a gun at his older self, things get very complicated when old Joe escapes his younger self with little difficulty because old Joe is Bruce Willis and young Joe is the kid from Third Rock from the Sun. 

Turns out old Joe has a plan to hunt down this Rainmaker guy when he is a little kid in the past and kill him before he can grow up to order Joe’s execution. That’s right, Bruce Willis wants to murder a kid. In case you haven’t guessed by now, Looper isn’t Back to the Future where time travel was good family fun; mostly because Doc Brown didn’t let Marty McFly murder kids!

Young Joe races frantically to “close the loop” and stop old Joe before Abe and his henchmen kill him so he can’t become old Joe.  Young Joe discovers that one of old Joe’s targets is a small farmboy who might grow up to become The Rainmaker. He befriends the boys Mom Sara (Emily Blunt) who actually believes young Joe’s story that a man from the future is coming to murder her child.

Hmmm. A woman named Sara is trying to protect her child from a murderer sent from the future. Where have I heard that story before?

Anyway, will young Joe be able to stop old Joe before he completes his deadly mission and forever alters the future?

If you think Looper is going to be a slam bam action flick because Bruce Willis is starring in it, you’re going to be disappointed. If you’re a sci fi enthusiast (nerd) like me who enjoys movies that explore the cause and effect theories of the space time continuum in a fresh way, you’re going to like Looper.

So in summation, I liked Looper, a thriller with a unique take on a well worn sci fi subject that really makes you think. In fact, I thought about this movie a bit too hard, because I have a little headache right now.

Do I have any aspirin?