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 We Didn't Start The 80s 
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The Keep is an acquired taste. Personally, I'd have no problem putting it in the top half of Mann's filmography. More movies should be as tonally off-putting as this one.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 4:26 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
Admission: I like the word "lady", and don't find it to be inherently demeaning or subjugating, and I really would hate to see it fall victim.


I don't mind the word lady. Like most gendered words, it's all in how it's used.

Torgo wrote:
Are The Keep or L.A. Takedown worth tracking down? They're the only Michael Mann movies I haven't seen yet. I'm morbidly curious to see Takedown to see how it compares to Heat.


I agree with the comments from others that The Keep is a bit of a mess. And yet. There is something kind of unique about the tone of it. Like, at times watching it I was pretty bored or rolling my eyes, but at the same time other parts of it were highly memorable. Great setting, great (IMO) score. It's weird and, I don't know, almost off-putting, but in kind of a compelling way?


Sat Sep 15, 2018 6:27 am
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.

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Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:49 am
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Rock wrote:
Man on Fire and The Challenge are both solid flicks, and the latter has a nice Mifune performance

Listen to this man.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:33 pm
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Rock wrote:
I haven't seen The Keep, but I like what I've seen of Scott Glenn's action hero phase in the '80s. Man on Fire and The Challenge are both solid flicks, and the latter has a nice Mifune performance and choreography by Steven Seagal.

The Challenge is the shit, yo.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:14 pm
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.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 11:06 pm
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PREDATOR 2 (1990)
One aspect of the 80s that always annoyed me was the tendency for sequels to get progressively jokier (see: Elm Street, Star Trek, Superman III, et al) and maybe this isn't the worst example of it but moments like the alien's "shit happens" line just make me roll my eyes. Maybe that's my fault for being a grumpy SOB. Paxton's character also bugged the heck out of me, which I'll probably get some grief for. I could've dealt with those issues if the surrounding film was better, but it was too much of a step down from the original. Despite some occasional moments that I liked, by the end of the film I'd decided that I really wasn't very interested in this series.

PREDATORS (2010)
This one won me back. The cat-and-mouse element has been my favorite part of these films and I felt like P2 had sort of over-complicated that. This film looked great and the character stuff was more interesting than it needed to be. As I stated elsewhere, not a big Brody fan so I was mildly disappointed that he wasn't on board the exploding spaceship.

So to wrap things up: The first film is undeniably a giant ball of personality, but I don't see myself revisiting these often in the future, and I can't say that I really need more Predator films in my life. I've decided to demote the latest entry to "Possible Future Rental" status.

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Sun Sep 16, 2018 7:04 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
PREDATOR 2 (1990)
One aspect of the 80s that always annoyed me was the tendency for sequels to get progressively jokier (see: Elm Street, Star Trek, Superman III, et al) and maybe this isn't the worst example of it but moments like the alien's "shit happens" line just make me roll my eyes. Maybe that's my fault for being a grumpy SOB. Paxton's character also bugged the heck out of me, which I'll probably get some grief for. I could've dealt with those issues if the surrounding film was better, but it was too much of a step down from the original. Despite some occasional moments that I liked, by the end of the film I'd decided that I really wasn't very interested in this series.


No, you're right on with this. What it had going for it was Danny Glover. But it is guilty of everything you say.


Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:52 pm
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I think MKS made a good post at one point about how Predator 2 is a response to Die Hard, Lethal Weapon and the like the way the original was a response to Commando, Rambo and other muscleman meathead actioners. But I think the difference in execution boils down to the fact that John McTiernan was a good enough director to probably have made a good meathead actioner (see the first half of Predator, and even Basic handles those kind of characters comfortably, story issues aside), while I'm not sure Stephen Hopkins could have pulled off a good everyman-centric action movie, judging by the results here. The one liners are terrible ("Pussy face") and most of the characters other than Danny Glover are just annoying. (On a side note, I saw Glover pop up in The Old Man and the Gun and wondered if he'd ever not been old as fuck. Dude's like Max von Sydow.) Also the weird Jamaican stereotyping (between this and Marked for Death, 1990 was not a good year for onscreen portrayals of Jamaicans).

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Sun Sep 16, 2018 3:22 pm
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Rock wrote:
I think MKS made a good post at one point about how Predator 2 is a response to Die Hard, Lethal Weapon and the like the way the original was a response to Commando, Rambo and other muscleman meathead actioners. But I think the difference in execution boils down to the fact that John McTiernan was a good enough director to probably have made a good meathead actioner (see the first half of Predator, and even Basic handles those kind of characters comfortably, story issues aside), while I'm not sure Stephen Hopkins could have pulled off a good everyman-centric action movie, judging by the results here. The one liners are terrible ("Pussy face") and most of the characters other than Danny Glover are just annoying. (On a side note, I saw Glover pop up in The Old Man and the Gun and wondered if he'd ever not been old as fuck. Dude's like Max von Sydow.) Also the weird Jamaican stereotyping (between this and Marked for Death, 1990 was not a good year for onscreen portrayals of Jamaicans).

Yeah, one handicap I've got is that I'm watching these all out of order. I've now seen the Predator series before having watched Rambo/Die Hard/Commando, so if P2 is a response to one of these I'm missing that frame of reference. I try to keep in mind the year these things were made while watching them but that only takes me so far.

And I'm glad you reminded me of the Jamaicans. As a New Orleans native I've seen my share of horrible Voodoo cliches, and this was right there with the best/worst of them.

And just so that I don't come across as a curmudgeon, some positives: I was skeptical of the switch to an urban setting going in to the film, but I thought the opening gunfight was terrific. I was prepared to love the film at that point but then it all went south. Probably when the dialogue started. And I agree that Glover made the most of what he was asked to do here. He and MC Alonso were the bright spots.

And the Xenomorph skull was a cool surprise. I was not aware that the AvP thing was based on any precedent, so that was neat.

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Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:41 pm
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DIE HARD (1988)
I'm not ready to get on board the 5-star GOAT bandwagon, but I did enjoy this one, with some reservations. Number one is that I don't find McClane to be completely likable; he's a borderline douche-bro, but I think he manages to not cross the unlikable threshold for the most part. His motivation is his strained marriage, so maybe fewer scenes of him checking out hot babes or centerfolds would've been a good idea. A minor quibble. Also I wish some of the characters were less cartoonish. (I get it, that's the point. But I'm just not into it.) The police chief can be an ass without being the densest, most incompetent boob that ever lived, for example. And I'm not completely against the use of humor here, I laughed often. "I'm not ordering pizza!" was a good one. Bonnie Bedelia punching the reporter was another. On the other hand, "We're gonna need new FBI guys" isn't exactly comedy gold, though.
The bromance with the cop on the phone got a little sappy for me as well.
I'm only pointing out those negatives to explain my reluctance to consider this more than a fun action movie. Granted, when you're told for decades that this is the "best Christmas movie evarrrrrrrrrrrrr!" there's a certain amount of crankiness that will result just because I'm grouchy that way.
But I did like this one. I want that to be the main takeaway from this post.
(and oh yeah--Alan Rickman rules here. This just in.)

DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER (1990)
Ok, NOW he's unlikable! In the first film he is an average schmo who is thrust into a situation beyond his control but prevails through a mix of determination and luck. In this film, he's a meddling a-hole with no regard for authority or laws who inserts himself everywhere he doesn't belong. :) Whenever Dennis Franz or John Amos told him to go away, I was on their side. And worse, he has become a full-fledged Mary Sue character and those are never fun to watch. When a movie's subtitle is "Die Harder" I realize that I'm not supposed to be taking it very seriously, but there's only so much stupidity I'm willing to stoop to. (Said the Three Stooges fan). This one annoyed me to the point that I had to remind myself that I actually liked the first film. (If you're a fan of this film, please don't take this review very seriously, I'm just having some fun here. But I really did hate it.)
Also I'm pretty sure this is my first Renny Harlin film, a major milestone in every cineaste's life.

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:09 am
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THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER (1990)

Great great great great
Loved it. My favorite McTiernan film so far.

(To illustrate my complete ignorance of this era of the action film---I did not know that this was a Jack Ryan movie until I saw Clancy's name in the opening credits. I'm hopeless)

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:11 am
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I think Die Hard's greatness is a bit of a hard sell so many years after the fact. Your opinion on it after initial viewing was basically mine. I enjoyed it, but then kind of moved on. But as time moved on, I kept returning to it. And with my growing love of it, it seemed the world was similarly coming to an agreement that it was great.

But just to be dropped into it with expectations of such enormous proportions. It's bound to not live up to them.

As for Hunt for Red October, I only recently got around to that one after many years of putting it off. Can't say it did much for me. It was fine, I guess.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 7:10 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER (1990)

Great great great great
Loved it. My favorite McTiernan film so far.

(To illustrate my complete ignorance of this era of the action film---I did not know that this was a Jack Ryan movie until I saw Clancy's name in the opening credits. I'm hopeless)

It really was pretty good.
I especially enjoyed Baldwin's Connery impression. It's one of Connery's best roles.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 8:43 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
Also I'm pretty sure this is my first Renny Harlin film, a major milestone in every cineaste's life.

Beware this path, my child. There lies mendacious mediocrity.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 11:24 am
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It's hard for me to divorce my experience with Die Hard from the theater experience, with a full, willing crowd, where all of the action and comedy beats added up to high-precision entertainment. One of the more satisfying theater experiences I've had.

McClane is a douche-bro. But in this era, this was considered refreshing in the face of the insufferably self-serious Stallone, Norris, Eastwood and Bronson action films (Schwartzenegger had also caught on to the value of camp by this point), and in the wake of virtual cartoons like Rambo, the alternative, ever slightly more realistically vulnerable cartoon of this everyman dunce was very welcome. Also for context, it should be remembered that Willis was never "cut" prior to this. He was mostly known as a chubby schlub from Moonlighting, and most people knew him in that character, which is basically the same smug persona as McClane, and all of this happened to be a new approach to machismo in 1988 action films.

Thank god Dane Cook didn't arrive in the 80s, or else he'd probably still be making movies as well.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 11:34 am
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crumbsroom wrote:
As for Hunt for Red October, I only recently got around to that one after many years of putting it off. Can't say it did much for me. It was fine, I guess.

It occurred to me a few times that a person with military experience could probably rip the plot to shreds, but I still found it entertaining. I like that the "action" is more a result of suspense than shooting and punching. The performances were all engaging. I'd compare it to A Few Good Men, where I know it's probably all nonsense but I'm enjoying it in spite of myself.

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 11:54 am
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Jinnistan wrote:

McClane is a douche-bro. But in this era, this was considered refreshing in the face of the insufferably self-serious Stallone, Norris, Eastwood and Bronson action films (Schwartzenegger had also caught on to the value of camp by this point), and in the wake of virtual cartoons like Rambo, the alternative, ever slightly more realistically vulnerable cartoon of this everyman dunce was very welcome. Also for context, it should be remembered that Willis was never "cut" prior to this. He was mostly known as a chubby schlub from Moonlighting, and most people knew him in that character, which is basically the same smug persona as McClane, and all of this happened to be a new approach to machismo in 1988 action films.

Yeah, there's that pesky "context" thing I'm missing out on by watching these in 2018. I gotta admit, I've got kind of a thing about Willis. Between Moonlighting, blues albums and Seagram's commercials I didn't take him very seriously and found him insufferably smug back in the day. As a result it was 1999 before I ever saw a Willis film* (Sixth Sense) and I wouldn't have seen that if a friend hadn't convinced me to go. Over the years I've softened on him but watching Die Hard some of that resentment started creeping back, which is partially why I was so hard on DH2.

*Pulp Fiction doesn't count as a "Willis film"

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 12:02 pm
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Captain Terror wrote:
THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER (1990)

Great great great great
Loved it. My favorite McTiernan film so far.

(To illustrate my complete ignorance of this era of the action film---I did not know that this was a Jack Ryan movie until I saw Clancy's name in the opening credits. I'm hopeless)

I don't think most people don't really think of it as a Jack Ryan movie, as Baldwin, while good, isn't really a star presence like the other actors who've played the role. Which is actually better for the role as in the books he's just a dude who's smart and good at his job.

I watch this less than Die Hard and Predator but think it's of comparable quality. It's McTiernan so it's still pretty strong on a technical level, but really it just works on the strength of good actors playing smart people in a tense situation.

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 2:49 pm
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Rock wrote:
I don't think most people don't really think of it as a Jack Ryan movie, as Baldwin, while good, isn't really a star presence like the other actors who've played the role. Which is actually better for the role as in the books he's just a dude who's smart and good at his job.

Yeah, that's something I wondered about. I haven't read any of the novels and the only films I'd seen were one or both of Harrison Ford's, so I thought of Ryan as being a more action-y character. But here he's sort of nerdy and afraid of flying and so on. And yeah, Baldwin is definitely part of an ensemble here. In fact Connery is the only face on the film's poster.

PS--why was it such a surprise to everyone to learn that Ramius wanted to defect? The man was clearly from Scotland! :)

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Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:20 pm
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Captain Terror wrote:
THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER (1990)

Great great great great
Loved it. My favorite McTiernan film so far.

(To illustrate my complete ignorance of this era of the action film---I did not know that this was a Jack Ryan movie until I saw Clancy's name in the opening credits. I'm hopeless)

It's the original Jack Ryan movie and the best Jack Ryan movie. And Baldwin was a much better Jack Ryan than Ford.


Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:57 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
DIE HARD (1988)
I'm not ready to get on board the 5-star GOAT bandwagon, but I did enjoy this one, with some reservations. Number one is that I don't find McClane to be completely likable; he's a borderline douche-bro, but I think he manages to not cross the unlikable threshold for the most part. His motivation is his strained marriage, so maybe fewer scenes of him checking out hot babes or centerfolds would've been a good idea. A minor quibble. Also I wish some of the characters were less cartoonish. (I get it, that's the point. But I'm just not into it.) The police chief can be an ass without being the densest, most incompetent boob that ever lived, for example. And I'm not completely against the use of humor here, I laughed often. "I'm not ordering pizza!" was a good one. Bonnie Bedelia punching the reporter was another. On the other hand, "We're gonna need new FBI guys" isn't exactly comedy gold, though.
The bromance with the cop on the phone got a little sappy for me as well.
I'm only pointing out those negatives to explain my reluctance to consider this more than a fun action movie. Granted, when you're told for decades that this is the "best Christmas movie evarrrrrrrrrrrrr!" there's a certain amount of crankiness that will result just because I'm grouchy that way.
But I did like this one. I want that to be the main takeaway from this post.
(and oh yeah--Alan Rickman rules here. This just in.)

DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER (1990)
Ok, NOW he's unlikable! In the first film he is an average schmo who is thrust into a situation beyond his control but prevails through a mix of determination and luck. In this film, he's a meddling a-hole with no regard for authority or laws who inserts himself everywhere he doesn't belong. :) Whenever Dennis Franz or John Amos told him to go away, I was on their side. And worse, he has become a full-fledged Mary Sue character and those are never fun to watch. When a movie's subtitle is "Die Harder" I realize that I'm not supposed to be taking it very seriously, but there's only so much stupidity I'm willing to stoop to. (Said the Three Stooges fan). This one annoyed me to the point that I had to remind myself that I actually liked the first film. (If you're a fan of this film, please don't take this review very seriously, I'm just having some fun here. But I really did hate it.)
Also I'm pretty sure this is my first Renny Harlin film, a major milestone in every cineaste's life.


I know I'm probably the only one to think this, but as far as DH sequels go, DH2 is the only one that's more or less worthy for me.

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Mon Sep 24, 2018 10:18 pm
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Thief wrote:

I know I'm probably the only one to think this, but as far as DH sequels go, DH2 is the only one that's more or less worthy for me.

In the words of Michael Jackson, you are not alone. I like how Die Hard 2 flirts with parodying the first movie while having its share of great action moments. I suppose Die Hard with a Vengeance is good too, but I lose a lot of interest in the second once Gruber's plan is revealed.

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Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:15 am
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Thief wrote:

I know I'm probably the only one to think this, but as far as DH sequels go, DH2 is the only one that's more or less worthy for me.

No, it's good in its silly, almost-self-parodying way. I thought the third one sucked so I never watched any more after that.


Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:56 am
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Rock wrote:
In the words of Michael Jackson, you are not alone. I like how Die Hard 2 flirts with parodying the first movie while having its share of great action moments. I suppose Die Hard with a Vengeance is good too, but I lose a lot of interest in the second once Gruber's plan is revealed.


Wooley wrote:
No, it's good in its silly, almost-self-parodying way. I thought the third one sucked so I never watched any more after that.


I borderline dislike the third one for various reasons, and I think I've ranted about it here before. First, being the third one, it kinda suffers from the "not again" syndrome, as it starts feeling a bit ludicrous that these kind of things will happen to the same man yet again. Second, it really doesn't feel like a Die Hard film and the pairing with Zeus, although overflowing with chemistry, feels forced and unnecessary. Third, like Rock said, once Gruber's backstory and plan is revealed, it loses a hell of a steam. Plus, his whole execution seems to comical in a James-Bond-villain kinda way. And fourth, the ending has got to be one of the worst, dullest, stupidest, most anti-climatic endings to any action film ever.

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Tue Sep 25, 2018 9:44 pm
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Thief wrote:
Second, it really doesn't feel like a Die Hard film


I dunno if this is common knowledge but DH3 was the result of adding John McClane to another standalone project. and it was probably approved by Bruce Willy because it didn't seem like a Die Hard movie (so why do it, Bruce? answer me!)

also, I'll add that DH3 is fucking lame (save the SLJ parts) but during a low point in school I watched it three times and another time with commentary in probably as many weeks because it was the only movie in our dorm that wasn't Across the Universe. I'm telling you all the shameful secret now so it won't be a surprise during my Supreme Court confirmation hearing.


Tue Sep 25, 2018 10:20 pm
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Oxnard Montalvo wrote:

I dunno if this is common knowledge but DH3 was the result of adding John McClane to another standalone project. and it was probably approved by Bruce Willy because it didn't seem like a Die Hard movie (so why do it, Bruce? answer me!)

also, I'll add that DH3 is fucking lame (save the SLJ parts) but during a low point in school I watched it three times and another time with commentary in probably as many weeks because it was the only movie in our dorm that wasn't Across the Universe. I'm telling you all the shameful secret now so it won't be a surprise during my Supreme Court confirmation hearing.


Yeah, the general rumor is that it was supposed to be made into a Lethal Weapon film (hence the pairing), but I'm not sure how true that rumor is.

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Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:03 pm
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Thief wrote:

I know I'm probably the only one to think this, but as far as DH sequels go, DH2 is the only one that's more or less worthy for me.



The plane crash scene really bothered me.

I liked DH3 though.

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Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:25 pm
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one other good thing I can say about Die Hard 3 is that it is not Die Hard 4. :up:


Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:42 pm
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I'm watching DH: WaV later this week, but I intend to skip the two entries from this century. Does everyone support this plan? I haven't heard many good things about them.

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Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:50 pm
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Captain Terror wrote:
I'm watching DH: WaV later this week, but I intend to skip the two entries from this century. Does everyone support this plan? I haven't heard many good things about them.


Given how I feel about the third one, I think my expectations were properly set for Die Hard 4.0. It's cheaper and dumber, but at that point, I really wasn't expecting much more than that: a dumb action film. Timothy Olyphant is good, albeit a bit bland as the villain, Justin Long is a bit grating, and the PG-13 rating hurts the overall essence of the film, but the addition of Mary Elizabeth Winstead is a plus, even if she's underused, and there are some decent action setpieces here and there. Again, I might be the only one, but I put it a tad (just a tad) above the third one. Regardless, it's a forgettable film and not at all essential.

The fifth one, on the other hand... oh-hoo, boy! :rotten: :rotten: :rotten:


EDIT: FWIW, Here is a link to a review I wrote about the last one.

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Tue Sep 25, 2018 11:55 pm
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Captain Terror wrote:
I'm watching DH: WaV later this week, but I intend to skip the two entries from this century. Does everyone support this plan? I haven't heard many good things about them.


yes. instead of watching Die Hard 4 and 5, go outside for a walk or learn a new recipe or reconnect with a friend or call your parents or anything! life is too short for crappy Die Hard movies.


Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:14 am
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Oxnard Montalvo wrote:

yes. instead of watching Die Hard 4 and 5, go outside for a walk or learn a new recipe or reconnect with a friend or call your parents or anything! life is too short for crappy Die Hard movies.

I was feeling good about my decision until Thief mentioned Winstead. I guess we'll see if my brain can talk some sense to my heart.

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Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:57 am
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Go outside and watch it on a tablet. Problem solved.

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Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:31 am
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Thief wrote:
EDIT: FWIW, Here is a link to a review I wrote about the last one.

Yikes. Considering you're a much bigger fan of the franchise than I, I guess this means I'm off the hook. That sounds like all of the worst elements of modern-day action films rolled into one.

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Wed Sep 26, 2018 5:17 am
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Takoma1 wrote:
I agree with the comments from others that The Keep is a bit of a mess. And yet. There is something kind of unique about the tone of it. Like, at times watching it I was pretty bored or rolling my eyes, but at the same time other parts of it were highly memorable. Great setting, great (IMO) score. It's weird and, I don't know, almost off-putting, but in kind of a compelling way?


Tangerine Dream is essential to the feel of that movie. Michael Mann is great at visual atmosphere. The two combine to create a film that has great atmosphere and almost nothing else.

I'd like to see the film remade, but I think the plot would need to be reworked a bit too.


Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:49 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
DIE HARD (1988)
I'm not ready to get on board the 5-star GOAT bandwagon, but I did enjoy this one, with some reservations. Number one is that I don't find McClane to be completely likable; he's a borderline douche-bro, but I think he manages to not cross the unlikable threshold for the most part. His motivation is his strained marriage, so maybe fewer scenes of him checking out hot babes or centerfolds would've been a good idea. A minor quibble. Also I wish some of the characters were less cartoonish. (I get it, that's the point. But I'm just not into it.) The police chief can be an ass without being the densest, most incompetent boob that ever lived, for example. And I'm not completely against the use of humor here, I laughed often. "I'm not ordering pizza!" was a good one. Bonnie Bedelia punching the reporter was another. On the other hand, "We're gonna need new FBI guys" isn't exactly comedy gold, though.
The bromance with the cop on the phone got a little sappy for me as well.
I'm only pointing out those negatives to explain my reluctance to consider this more than a fun action movie. Granted, when you're told for decades that this is the "best Christmas movie evarrrrrrrrrrrrr!" there's a certain amount of crankiness that will result just because I'm grouchy that way.
But I did like this one. I want that to be the main takeaway from this post.
(and oh yeah--Alan Rickman rules here. This just in.)

I basically agree with you about the original Die Hard; it's held back somewhat by its occasionally uneven story flow (like the way the scene with Carl Winslow's "tragic" backstory is entirely unnecessary and completely murders the pacing, and that's without mentioning how much less sympathetic he seems now in the era of BLM), and its bevy of incredibly stock "Hollywood" characters, but the fundamental claustrophobia, tension, and excitement of it otherwise still manages to make the film, if not one of the best, at least one of the better Action films I've ever seen. Lots of personality, great, quotable dialogue, and I like the way its action scenes balance themselves pretty much perfectly between excitement and realism, being over-the-top enough to get the blood pumping in spades while not completely losing touch with reality, unlike the direction its sequels increasingly went in, unfortunately.

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Wed Sep 26, 2018 2:12 pm
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Stu wrote:
I basically agree with you about the original Die Hard; it's held back somewhat by its occasionally uneven story flow (like the way the scene with Carl Winslow's "tragic" backstory is entirely unnecessary and completely murders the pacing, and that's without mentioning how much less sympathetic he seems now in the era of BLM), and its bevy of incredibly stock "Hollywood" characters, but the fundamental claustrophobia, tension, and excitement of it otherwise still manages to make the film, if not one of the best, at least one of the better Action films I've ever seen. Lots of personality, great, quotable dialogue, and I like the way its action scenes balance themselves pretty much perfectly between excitement and realism, being over-the-top enough to get the blood pumping in spades while not completely losing touch with reality, unlike the direction its sequels increasingly went in, unfortunately.


Have a care to judge the film and not the era in which the film was made.

How in the hell would the filmmakers know that Winslow's backstory would not play favorably thirty years later relative to today's politics?

As for the tuning and calibration of stock characters, you have to remember the time when the film was made. In the 80's this is how characters were framed in action and comedy films. You might as well complain about the presence of transatlantic accents in a 1940s film. I can vouch that when this thing came out, it fired on all cylinders. The somewhat farcical nature of the characters was part of what made it fun.

If you weren't part of the intended audience---people paying for tickets in 1988 to make this thing profitable, then you may be out of phase with the style of the film. You're "welcome to the party, pal", but you're also late to the party, very late. When you are approaching art works from another era you have to do what you can to filter the noise from the signal, which is to say you need to be sensitive to style of the time and the ideas which were current. If you can't calibrate yourself to antiquated special effects, then you will only bitch about subpar FX in Forbidden Planet, Star Trek, Star Wars, and even 2001--moreover, the shoddy effects can throw you out of the narrative. You have to learn how to adjust to these things. If you're watching a film from the 1960s, then leading men will be very "leading mannish" in the old Hollywood sense (which today we might call toxic masculinity or "douche bro").

If you didn't see Star Wars when it was released in 1977, then you probably don't understand why the film was so mind-blowing. I wasn't a kid reading youth-lit when Harry Potter came out, so I am not in tune with the generation that got to grow up with Harry. Rowling wasn't writing for me. And that's OK.


Wed Sep 26, 2018 5:43 pm
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Melvin Butterworth wrote:
If you weren't part of the intended audience---people paying for tickets in 1988 to make this thing profitable, then you may be out of phase with the style of the film. You're "welcome to the party, pal", but you're also late to the party, very late.

My acknowledgement of this is the entire reason this thread was created.

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Wed Sep 26, 2018 9:35 pm
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Stu wrote:
I basically agree with you about the original Die Hard; it's held back somewhat by its occasionally uneven story flow (like the way the scene with Carl Winslow's "tragic" backstory is entirely unnecessary and completely murders the pacing, and that's without mentioning how much less sympathetic he seems now in the era of BLM), and its bevy of incredibly stock "Hollywood" characters, but the fundamental claustrophobia, tension, and excitement of it otherwise still manages to make the film, if not one of the best, at least one of the better Action films I've ever seen. Lots of personality, great, quotable dialogue, and I like the way its action scenes balance themselves pretty much perfectly between excitement and realism, being over-the-top enough to get the blood pumping in spades while not completely losing touch with reality, unlike the direction its sequels increasingly went in, unfortunately.

Thanks, I need all the support I can get! :) Your review is very similar to mine. If I'm understanding correctly, that wasn't your first viewing, correct?
Stu wrote:
and that's without mentioning how much less sympathetic he seems now in the era of BLM)

This occurred to me also. "Shooting an unarmed teen" is bound to ring some alarms for the 2018 viewer. What bothered me more was that moment towards the end when he fires the gun. It seemed like the intended reaction was "Yay, he found the courage to shoot people again!" Maybe I misinterpreted though.

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Wed Sep 26, 2018 10:51 pm
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Captain Terror wrote:
Thanks, I need all the support I can get! :) Your review is very similar to mine. If I'm understanding correctly, that wasn't your first viewing, correct?

This occurred to me also. "Shooting an unarmed teen" is bound to ring some alarms for the 2018 viewer. What bothered me more was that moment towards the end when he fires the gun. It seemed like the intended reaction was "Yay, he found the courage to shoot people again!" Maybe I misinterpreted though.


The Powell arc is probably my only standing gripe with the film for various reasons. First, VelJohnson's performance is a bit uneven. I've warmed up to the character with time, but he stumbles a bit in some scenes (plus, there are some editing blunders related to him like how his lines of dialogue change from what we see when he's being shot, and when we hear the recording of it later. Not his fault, but still, I sorta associate it with him). Second, there are some awkward melodramatic moments in terms of dialogue, pace, and delivery when he and McClane share their own emotional stories. And third, his "redemption" at the end feels forced and ultimately unnecessary. Having Karl survive the hanging and the explosion, and how he reappears in the end, with all the slow motion and the slow revelation that it was Powell the one who shot, it just doesn't work that well.

These are all really minor gripes and nitpicks, though. I've learned to live with them.

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Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:26 pm
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Captain Terror wrote:
My acknowledgement of this is the entire reason this thread was created.


A person can acknowledge that racism is bad and then say racist things later.

At the point that we're criticizing the Twinkee loving cop because of the contingencies of history that followed 1988 ("Oh, that looks bad in 2018"), you're entirely outside of assessing the artwork in its environment. Consequently, you have been left apparently baffled by the moment where he shoots someone again in the line of duty.


Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:31 pm
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Melvin Butterworth wrote:

A person can acknowledge that racism is bad and then say racist things later.

At the point that we're criticizing the Twinkee loving cop because of the contingencies of history that followed 1988 ("Oh, that looks bad in 2018"), you're entirely outside of assessing the artwork in its environment. Consequently, you have been left apparently baffled by the moment where he shoots someone again in the line of duty.


I was 17 in 1988. I'm not baffled by any of this. I ignored the 80s while they were in progress, and have spent the past few months watching some of the classics that I missed out on. The fact that I'm approaching them with a 2018 viewpoint is, I thought, a given and indeed was the very point of this project. I'm being sincere when I say I don't understand your complaint. If you're under the impression that I'm completely disregarding the era in which the films were made, I can only say you're mistaken. I would also direct your attention to the post where I said "I enjoyed Die Hard".
I don't come here to have fights, so I hope this satisfies your concerns.

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Thu Sep 27, 2018 12:25 am
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Captain Terror wrote:

I was 17 in 1988. I'm not baffled by any of this. I ignored the 80s while they were in progress, and have spent the past few months watching some of the classics that I missed out on. The fact that I'm approaching them with a 2018 viewpoint is, I thought, a given and indeed was the very point of this project. I'm being sincere when I say I don't understand your complaint. If you're under the impression that I'm completely disregarding the era in which the films were made, I can only say you're mistaken. I would also direct your attention to the post where I said "I enjoyed Die Hard".
I don't come here to have fights, so I hope this satisfies your concerns.


My concern is only that we give these old tales a fair shake. Styles of story-telling become antiquated very quickly and it is very sad when there is no longer a fusion of horizons between audience and artifact, when it is no longer possible to view the artwork on its own terms. Part of this, I suppose, is growing old and realizing that your old standards are NOT timeless, that they lose their luster and no longer work their magic on new audiences--it reminds us too much of our own mortality, that we too are disposable, and belong to a time long past. Another part of this, however, lies in recognizing what can still be recovered in terms of our exterior understanding (e.g., "Well, I don't like it, but I can get why audiences back then did"), but also our subjective appreciation (e.g., suddenly laughing when you understand the joke about "every old shoe finds an old sock" that your grandmother used to tell about old people seeking love).

Watch just about any TV show from the 60s and 70s and the leading men are almost all written as sexually irresistible to women, physically capable, and cleverer than their opponents. They're Mary Sue's of masculinity. We tend to think of Captain Kirk as a Lothario, but even Richard Kimble was getting a ridiculous amount of romantic attention on The Fugitive. If, however, we can tune-in to the "coding" of the time, there are still very good tales being told and we can tune in without losing the ability to critique the sensibilities of the age. As progressive as Star Trek was, for example, it had some very traditional views about women. If we lose the ability to look past this, we might miss the very competent story-telling that was done on that show. The sets are fake and the lighting is weird, but the blocking is smart! (and well crafted for the 4:3 aspect ratio) and the story telling is very efficient (crisp editing, no narrative fat on the bone with plot, and very clear characterization). Moreover, there are some timeless ideas that are raised in Trek, despite the obvious and casual sexism and paternalism. Viewed today, however, Star Trek simply sucks. It would never cut it as a TV show today. However, viewed as something within its own environment, it is obvious why the show was embraced in syndication with a cult following.


Thu Sep 27, 2018 1:36 am
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Thief wrote:

The Powell arc is probably my only standing gripe with the film for various reasons. First, VelJohnson's performance is a bit uneven. I've warmed up to the character with time, but he stumbles a bit in some scenes (plus, there are some editing blunders related to him like how his lines of dialogue change from what we see when he's being shot, and when we hear the recording of it later. Not his fault, but still, I sorta associate it with him). Second, there are some awkward melodramatic moments in terms of dialogue, pace, and delivery when he and McClane share their own emotional stories. And third, his "redemption" at the end feels forced and ultimately unnecessary. Having Karl survive the hanging and the explosion, and how he reappears in the end, with all the slow motion and the slow revelation that it was Powell the one who shot, it just doesn't work that well.

These are all really minor gripes and nitpicks, though. I've learned to live with them.

Stu used the word "unnecessary" and I'll steal that for myself. The Twinkie cop was one of my favorite characters, and he was immediately likable. He "had me from hello", if you will. So not only did I not need a backstory, it seemed out of character for him to tell his story at that moment. He seems like the kinda guy who would've just said, 'let's make it through this first and I'll tell you the story later." I'm sure the scene is there for a reason. Maybe McTiernan thought a breather was needed at that point. And I agree, it's a minor quibble.

EDIT: You referred to him as Powell and Stu referred to him as Carl Winslow, which caused some brief confusion on my part. Had to Google Carl Winslow, which is how I learned this was the guy from Family Matters, a show I never watched. Did I mention I was clueless about this era??

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Thu Sep 27, 2018 2:13 am
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Melvin Butterworth wrote:

My concern is only that we give these old tales a fair shake. Styles of story-telling become antiquated very quickly and it is very sad when there is no longer a fusion of horizons between audience and artifact, when it is no longer possible to view the artwork on its own terms. Part of this, I suppose, is growing old and realizing that your old standards are NOT timeless, that they lose their luster and no longer work their magic on new audiences--it reminds us too much of our own mortality, that we too are disposable, and belong to a time long past. Another part of this, however, lies in recognizing what can still be recovered in terms of our exterior understanding (e.g., "Well, I don't like it, but I can get why audiences back then did"), but also our subjective appreciation (e.g., suddenly laughing when you understand the joke about "every old shoe finds an old sock" that your grandmother used to tell about old people seeking love).

Watch just about any TV show from the 60s and 70s and the leading men are almost all written as sexually irresistible to women, physically capable, and cleverer than their opponents. They're Mary Sue's of masculinity. We tend to think of Captain Kirk as a Lothario, but even Richard Kimble was getting a ridiculous amount of romantic attention on The Fugitive. If, however, we can tune-in to the "coding" of the time, there are still very good tales being told and we can tune in without losing the ability to critique the sensibilities of the age. As progressive as Star Trek was, for example, it had some very traditional views about women. If we lose the ability to look past this, we might miss the very competent story-telling that was done on that show. The sets are fake and the lighting is weird, but the blocking is smart! (and well crafted for the 4:3 aspect ratio) and the story telling is very efficient (crisp editing, no narrative fat on the bone with plot, and very clear characterization). Moreover, there are some timeless ideas that are raised in Trek, despite the obvious and casual sexism and paternalism. Viewed today, however, Star Trek simply sucks. It would never cut it as a TV show today. However, viewed as something within its own environment, it is obvious why the show was embraced in syndication with a cult following.

All of my favorite films were made before 1940, so I'm completely on board with this. Giving old tales a fair shake is my specialty. (that sounds dirty)
It just so happens that during the 80s I was a miserable teen that hated all relevant pop culture, whether it deserved it or not. So it's only this specific decade that I struggle with.

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Thu Sep 27, 2018 2:20 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
It just so happens that during the 80s I was a miserable teen that hated all relevant pop culture, whether it deserved it or not. So it's only this specific decade that I struggle with.


The 80s were a bit of a disappointment, especially considering the cinematic achievements of the 60s and 70s. Our leading man was an oversized Austrian bodybuilder who, as James Caan once complained, cannot even say the word "Ambulance." But there were some near-perfect little amusements in the decade too. Back to the Future. Ghost Busters. ALIENS. Poltergeist. Not really intellectual films that made you think, but great little rides that were just fun. I count Die Hard among these films, but seeing it for the first time in 2018 takes the fish out of the water a bit. It feels timeless to me, but I know that it isn't. It's hard to admit that a film was only perfect for its time and that while others might still like it on a first view today, that it no longer fires on all cylinders. Nevertheless, even if the magic is fading, I still feel compelled to argue for judging it relative its time and place--with an audience that largely thought of cops more as people who get cats out of trees than who shoot black kids on the street (this image was starting to be challenged with the emergence of hip hop like NWA and Ice-T, but this moment was still well before Rodney King and the riots) and with shitty stock characters who were simply accepted as part of the story (e.g., reporters who only exist to be punched in the face).


Thu Sep 27, 2018 3:07 am
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Captain Terror wrote:
My acknowledgement of this is the entire reason this thread was created.

Eh, I wouldn't say it was the entire reason, but your woeful lack of 80s experience (for someone who was there) kick started another convo on another thread and from that I thought that an all-80s thread would be a good idea.

But I'm here to teach, Capt. A candle in your darkness.


Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:35 am
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I will not be putting any onus onto Carl. I have to agree that using BLM to demean his character is flawed at best.

I also will not be apologizing for enjoying myself as a small, eagerly precocious lad of the 80s. Oh, there was plenty of bullshit thrown into little Jinni's path at the time (looking at you, ALF), but I've just never been much of a proponent for collective (ie, zeitgeist) punishment.


Thu Sep 27, 2018 6:42 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
Eh, I wouldn't say it was the entire reason, but your woeful lack of 80s experience (for someone who was there) kick started another convo on another thread and from that I thought that an all-80s thread would be a good idea.

That's what I meant. :) :up:

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