Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: David Yates

Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Warwick Davis, Tom Felton, John Hurt, Jason Isaacs, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch, Helen McCrory, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, David Thewlis, Julie Waters, Mark Williams, Bonnie Wright, Natalia Tena, Michael Gambon, Gary Oldman, Ciaràn Hinds, Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent

Synopsis: The final chapter in the popular series of eight films that began ten years ago, based on the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling.   This is the final battle for Hogwarts, and the time when Harry must face his final confrontation with the evil Lord Voldemort.

Given that this franchise has been with us since 2001, it is almost with a sense of disbelief that with this film, it draws to a close.   The film proves a thrilling conclusion, providing fantastic action sequences and special effects, some great character moments and, for those that have not read the books, a few unexpected surprises along the way.   If there is one complaint I can level against the film, it is that it is too short.   The 130 minutes pass very quickly, and not a minute of it seems wasted.

The films have certainly come away since the original Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.   The quality of the special effects are amazing, truly taking advantage of advances in technology in the intervening period.   More significant, however, is the improvement in the performance of the three leads.   Watson’s performances have been of high calibre for many films now, leaving the boys behind, however Grint and Radcliffe have both had substantial acting experiences themselves outside of the Potter franchise, and the benefit of these project shows.   Radcliffe gives a very commanding performance, leading no doubt that this young man is capable of the extreme responsibility on his shoulders.

Fans of the novels may be somewhat disappointed.   Always the price of an adaptation like this is that some of the finer details get left out.   Those fans, myself included, would argue extra time could have been added to this running time to highlight some of these elements more clearly.   This in the end is a minor criticism, given that the film does succeed in giving screen time to almost every single significant character from previous films, both living and dead.   The fact that most of these characters have been played by some of the most brilliant actors in the UK today is an added treat.   They each manage to shine despite many getting scant time on-screen.

In the end, this is the classic battle of good against evil, that addresses thematic concerns as the nature of evil, dealing with loss, and not being too quick to judge others.   Some may question some of the choices made in adapting the novel, but apart from this the film delivers everything one could demand for the final instalment of a beloved story.

4 stars out of 5.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 on IMDB

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5NYt1qirBWg]

 

30 Day Film Challenge Day 20 – Your Favorite Romantic Film

Film Nerd’s Choice: Love Actually

Rationale:

Easiest of easy choices.   Not being a big fan of chick flicks or romantic comedies, the list was quite immediately narrowed.   So of course, I would go for the film that was mainly comedy, minimal middle of the film bulls*** keeping the protagonists apart, and with Alan Rickman to boot.   With multiple intertwining storylines, it becomes difficult to get bored with any single one.   As such, it is the only romantic film I can watch end to end on multiple occasions.   Given the setting of the film, it is not a bad Christmas Eve option either.

For my full review, click right here!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 – A Review by Film Nerd

For details of cast and crew, and links to IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes, and the trailer for this film, please see the review already posted by Urban Fantasist;

UrbanFantasist’s Review

It is with pleasure that I write this review, especially in reflection to the original goals of this blog.   As this film has the potential to be reviewed by at least three different contributors.   As linked above, Urban Fantasist has already provided a fantastic review of the film, and Bride of Film Nerd has promised to follow-up with her own very shortly.   I am also left with a dilemma though.   Urban Fantasist’s review I found to be absolutely spot on, so my challenge is to provide my own comment more specific to my own interests, without covering too much of the same ground and just being repetitive.

Here it goes.   From the absolute outset of this film, a very different tone is established immediately.   In the promotional interviews for ever Potter film from Chamber of Secrets onwards, the claim was made that each film was darker than the last.   Though this proved never a false statement, in the case of The Deathly Hallows, it could not be more apt.   No potter film before this has started on such a drastic note.   It makes it very clear that this is not another year at Hogwarts, that this is war and the odds could not be mounted higher against our lead three protagonists.   All this was achieved before even the Potter logo appearing on-screen.   In a way, i was reminded of how the pre-credits sequence in Bond takes you out of the real world and right smack bang in the middle of the action of the film.   Viewing it was perhaps even a little uncomfortable, but at the same time it is clear that this is what director Yates is aiming for.

This is evident as this is overall a film with comparatively little levity.   Yates chose to prepare the audience early, and I certainly found his methods effective.   He further illustrates what is at stake by an early interlude between Ginny and Harry.   In discussing why a wedding was held at a time like this, Harry rightfully points out that maybe preserving moments like those was one of the most important things they can do.    As an audience member who has seen it to the end, I am inclined to agree with him, given the prices that were paid over the 2 and half hours of this film.    Just as Urban Fantasist did, I cried, at an identical point to which I cried during the book.   At the risk of being beaten up later, even Bride of Film Nerd, who mocked my reaction to Toy Story 3, was affected by the emotion of the moment.

A quick note should be written on what has improved overall with this film.   The lead three actors have all grown into their roles,  and their ability to convey the emotions of each is now at an admirably high level of talent.   Special note I feel should be made of Tom Felton’s performance as Draco.   He really became an acting force in the last film, and though given less to do overall in Part 1, he provides a nuanced performance that makes a three-dimensional character of what had initially been a two-dimensional villain.   The pacing of the film was just what was needed.   We know all the real action is yet to occur in Part 2, so this is in many respects a long preamble, but at no point does it become boring, and I could easily have kept sitting past the end credits for them to start playing the next instalment for me then and there.   The pacing is in itself a huge improvement on the book, which often lagged during the events shown here.   The other improvement was in the CGI.   The house-elves return in this film, the creatures that had previously been incredibly fake, especially in an era of Peter Jackson’s Gollum.    This is no longer the case, with the elves being absolutely amazing, not only gaving softened and life-like facial features, but now blending pretty much seamlessly with the external environment and with the actors.   I am especially glad for this as without these improvements, some of the scenes with the house-elves would not have had anywhere near the same impact.

Urban Fantasist finished her review with a comment concerning what an absolutely wild Potter fan she is.   I should perhaps add to my review that I was also an established Potter fan prior to this film, however I could never compete with my colleagues level of obsession.   I only actually read Deathly Hallows once, much less than any other book in the series, and I had forgotten a  surprising amount.   I do feel though that this extra knowledge did make the film viewing experience richer for me, and there were a few things extra I would have liked to have seen.   Looking dispassionately at what was cut though, it is easy to see how it would have adversely affected the pacing of the film, while adding comparatively little.   I also feel enough information was available for the uninitiated to enjoy.    In the end, the main thing that stops mew giving this 5 stars is because I am petulant and want to see the finale to the series right now!!

4 stars (out of a possible 5)


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – A Reviw by Film Nerd

Director: Garth Jennings

Cast: Martin Freeman, Zooey Deschanel, Mos Def, Sam Rockwell, Bill Nighy, Warwick Davis, Alan Rickman, Anna Chancellor, Stephen Fry, Helen Mirren, Bill Bailey, John Malkovich

Synopsis: A story adapted from the first of the series of books written by Douglas Adams.    Arthur Dent (Freeman) escapes Earth moment before its destruction with the aid of his best friend, Ford Prefect (Def), whom as it turns out was an alien all along.   Ford writes for the renowned Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (voiced by Fry).   Their travels intersect with the those of Ford’s cousin and President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox (Rockwell), and his travelling companion Trillian (Deschanel), who is the only other remaining survivor of Earth.

 

A review by Film Nerd.

I was quite a fan of the Hitchhiker’s Guide as a series of books, the infamous trilogy in five parts.   It was a series that was all about the ridiculous, and not to everyone’s sense of humour.   I was often quite tickled by it, so the prospect of a movie to me was quite a thing of anticipation.   The fact that Adams himself had contributed a lot of the screen play before his passing was promising, the fact he had taken so long to get it successfully off the ground was not.

But on the surface of things, there were a lot of smart choices made with this film.   Freeman has always made the perfect “every man”, and was ideally cast as the always bathrobe wearing Arthur Dent.   Mos Def I was unfamiliar with, which concerned me, and though there is nothing wrong with the performance it was not necessarily brilliant either.    My love for Deschanel is well on record, once again in the type of role she has made her own, the independent woman who is more quirky than harsh.   Rockwell is let off his leash in full crazy mode, and can be a true delight in this film.   Then just look above at a lot of the rest of the acting talent, including Rickman voicing Marvin the Paranoid Android, and Fry’s dulcet tones filling in for both Narrator and the guide itself.   So really, the casting in most cases could not be more spot on.

The film also opens brilliantly, taking Adams’ record of the last communication from dolphins to humans; “So long, and thanks for all the fish”, and making an opening credits song out of it, is just what is needed to break the audience out of normality and into the realm of Adams mind.   And yet from that point on, the film is somewhat lacklustre.   Adams comedy does not always shine through, with some of the less famous lines from the novel feeling somewhat flat on delivery.   Despite all the brilliant individual performances, they somehow do not add up to a whole that is entirely enjoyable.   It is hard to pin-point where things go wrong, yet somehow they do.   There are moments that are great, breaking up a rather ordinary film.    It is a real shame, as this had the potential to be gut-bustingly funny, and yet it is just a pleasant time-waster.

My recommendation?   If you are unfamiliar with the books and curious, give it a look, but at your own peril.   This makes some of Adams’ work look kinda boring, so you could unfairly pre-judge the books before reading them for yourself.  If you have an open mind though, there is enough here to enjoy.   If you are already a fan, it perhaps is more entertain knowing the source material, and yet you will be disappointed knowing what this film could have been.

2.5 stars (out of a possible 5)

 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on IMDB

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbGNcoB2Y4I]

Die Hard 2 – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Renny Harlin

Cast: Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, William Atherton, William Sadler, Dennis Franz

Synopsis: Two years after the release of the original film, John McClane returns to, well, basically do exactly the same thing he did in the first film!!

A review by Film Nerd

I have decided to continue through with my reviews of the Die Hard franchise, so doing this in  order, I hear comment on the first sequel, and perhaps the entry in the franchise that is the least spectacular.   Yes, there is great action and great character moments, but there is really nothing to set it apart from the original film.   You could feasibly just replace wherever it says high-rise building in the original with the word airport, and that is Die Hard 2.

This does not mean that it is a bad film, it just often feels repetitive, and we have seen it all before.   Another terrorist, another christmas, McClane’s wife is in trouble, McClane himself becomes a one man army because the authorities are incompetent and will do nothing.    At least the film does comment itself on how unlikely this scenario is, McClane quipping “How can the same thing happen to the same guy twice?”   But the quipping is also the problem.   It made him that little bit different from the action heroes at the time in the original, his running commentary bringing levity to proceedings.   In DH2, however, the jokes often feel forced, and even worse, it is clearly at times overdubbed, almost criminally so when McClane’s voice is not muffled by the parachute he is buried in.

One doesn’t watch these films though to pick apart plot, they are watched purely for action.   On this front, the film delivers, with punch ups, explosions, and McClane progressively getting bloodier, dirtier, and sweatier throughout.   For a sit back and watch it is great, and those who have not seen the original perhaps will not have the gripes with the film that I mentioned above.   But the other main problem is that the lead villain cannot match Alan Rickman’s charisma in the original, and none of the supporting players are quite as memorable as those in the first outing either.

Yes it is a good film, that suffers by comparison.   It was an intelligent decision by the producers to get original director John McTiernan in to direct the next chapter.

3 stars (out of a possible 5)

Die Hard 2 on IMDB

Die Hard 2 on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUg4gWjOgXs]

Dogma – Alan Rickman Week

Director: Kevin Smith

Cast: Linda Fiorentino, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Salma Hayek, Alanis Morissette

Synopsis: The Catholic Church is looking to revamp its image, instituting an event permitting the forgiveness of all sins.   Two angels exiled from heaven take this as an opportunity to be forgiven and re-enter heaven.   However, if they succeed, it will make the demands of God void, and as such spell the end of all existence.

A review by Film Nerd.

At the time of its release, Dogma was considered a very controversial film… a comedy about Catholic Faith which represents the clergy as exceedingly foolish.   To those that took this perception, though essentially being very accurate, have missed an even deeper message that this film is trying to convey.

This is the fourth film in Kevin Smith’s View Askew production series, that began with Clerks, Mallrats, and Chasing Amy, and that was followed by Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Clerks II.   Aside from Smith directing, and many of the lead cast returning from various films in each of these to play different roles, the one clear connective thread in this series are Jay and Silent Bob, here cast as “prophets” to help guide Fiorentino’s Bethany on her heaven-sent quest to prevent two exiled angels, Bartleby (Affleck) and Loki (Damon), once again gaining access to heaven and ending existence.

The plot sounds pretty heavy, but it is shot in the same tone as the other comedy’s in this series, with big ideas conveyed with buffoonery and a great sense of fun.   Bethany is the straight guy in the proceedings, surrounded by absurd characters.   She receives the quest from the Metatron, the angel that acts as the voice of God, and delivered in Rickman’s unique tones.   He is a character full of sarcasm, especially as he is not permitted to imbibe alcohol after Bartleby and Loki’s drinking antics that got them expelled from heaven initially.   Jay and Silent Bob have already been mentioned, and are no different from any of their other outings, so fans of that schtick, like myself, can sit back and enjoy.   Chris Rock is as ever brilliant, playing the thirteenth disciple, the one that was never mentioned in the bible because he was black.   For me the real surprise of this film when I first saw it was Affleck and Damon.   The shine had started to wear off of their run post-Good Will Hunting, but here they do show the depths they have to offer, Affleck included, putting the viewer in the position of wishing to see them defeated, but also completely understanding why they are willing to go to such lengths.

If easily offended, especially in matters of faith, it is nor worth your time seeing this through, given that it is very irreverent.   If you are curious on another perspective on faith, however, this film has something for you.   As in the end, this film is actually not against people having a system of Faith, the source of its satire being more specifically organised religion.   So of course the Catholic clergy would be concerned about their patrons viewing it…

4 stars (out of a possible 5)

Dogma on IMDB

Dogma on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20CRw3XdETA]

Galaxy Quest – Alan Rickman Week

Director: Dean Parisot

Cast: Tim Allen, Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver, Sam Rockwell, Justin Long

Synopsis: Follows the story of a group of washed up actors that starred in the science fiction series Galaxy Quest 20 years earlier, now languishing in careers spent touring the convention circuit.   Than is of course until they are recruited by a group of aliens that have modeled their lives and technology on the “historical documents” transmitted into space from Earth.   They hope their heroes can save them from an imminent threat.

A review by Film Nerd.

This is a film that was always destined to be reviewed here on Film Actually.   As if Alan Rickman week was not enough cause, the fact that this show lovingly lampoons my favourite original cast of Star Trek means it was always going to be on my “tobe  reviewed” list without question.   I say lovingly lampoons, as though the characters do appear obvious caricatures of Shatner, Nimoy, and co, it also has a level of depth to it as well, as we learn that they are all languishing in want of something more, something that is offered to them when they climb aboard the fully functional  NSEA Protector.

Though Allen’s career was somewhat languishing post Home Improvement, aside from his Buzz Lightyear voicing duties, his Jason Nesmith just screams Shatner.   He is a character of swagger, of self-importance, who almost truly believes he is the legendary starship commander he played on-screen.   He continuously upstages his cast mates and takes all glory for himself (as Shatner at the time was often reported to be guilty of, though in his Boston Legal years I am seeing two sides to that story now).   His confidence is shattered however when he overhears himself being mocked, and sees the walls he has built around himself.   So far, so sombre.   From that point on we hit space, and the true comedy starts.   The comedy mines every Trek cliché… the red-shirted crewman that is the expendable one sure to die on the planet, the captain losing his shirt in fight scenes, no one quite sure what the female on the bridge is doing, but she sure does look good, and the character actor now more well-known for the alien crewmember he played rather than his Shakespearean background.   All very obvious comedy points, but all delightfully portrayed here.

Aside from Allen, he is strongly supported by Rickman in the Nimoy-esque role, so frustrated with being typecast he refuses to repeat his character’s catch phrase.   It is a character full of bitterness, and Rickman has always had that skill to just spit out lines loaded with sarcasm, but also with the perfect comic timing.   Perfect casting then!!   When you add sci-fi veteran Sigourney Weaver playing a very un-Ripley role as the series sex object, the juxtaposition is ripe for comedy.    The smaller roles are also delightful, with the helmsman who has no idea how to fly a real ship, the engineer unable to operate a real transport beam system, and the always amazing Sam Rockwell as the red shirt… “Crewman Number 6”.   They maintain this gag so well, even his character’s real name is just “Guy”.

This is a funny movie in its own right, with the situational comedy enough to entertain all audiences.   But for complete Trek novices, I would give this a rating of 3 out of 5.   However, knowledge of Trek-dom really brings this film to life, and being a self-proclaimed expert in that respect myself, it deserves another star.    “By Grabthar’s Hammer… by the Sons of Warvan… you shall be… avenged!”

4 stars (out of a possible 5)

Galaxy Quest on IMDB

Galaxy Quest on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1ZUxZsUKuM]

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – Alan Rickman Week

Director: Kevin Reynolds

Cast: Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Alan Rickman, Christian Slater, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

Synopsis: Almost two decades before Rusty pulled on the tights for a more realistic interpretation, Kevin Costner grabbed a bow to become the most legendary of archer’s.    The film has perhaps been more recognised as the source material for Mel Brooks’ film Robin Hood: Men In Tights.    All together now… “Unlike some Robin Hoods, I speak with an English accent!”

A review by Film Nerd.

I re-watched this film over the weekend with Bride of Film Nerd, who had never previously seen it.   Being the comedy fan that she is, though, it was amusing to hear her get mixed up between Blinkin and Duncan.   So yes, I introduced her to the source material that Mel Brooks so successfully lampooned.   I think that satire of the film is now more prominent in public memory than the film itself, and though the satire is fantastic, it is easy to forget how entertaining the original is.

Not to say it is not without flaws.   Some of the plotting is ridiculous, and the script is often laughable.   But the cast actually kind of seem to know this, and they deliver some more absurd lines with almost a sly nod to the audience that they are having fun with it.   Costner is very guilty of this, playing his Robin as a prodigal rebellious son type, almost in the frat boy mould.   Yet given that frat boys can be considered very anti-establishment, for Robin Hood, this is quite appropriate.   Morgan Freeman is always on form in whatever role, so his Azeem brings some gravitas to proceedings, but is also abl to introduce his own sly humour, being in a perfect position to point out the ridiculous habits in Western attitudes and rituals.   For me though, the film does belong to Rickman, so much so that thinking of this villain role alongside Hans Gruber was all I needed to initiate Alan Rickman week.   His sheriff of Nottingham is delightfully OTT, making full use of his lanky frame and unique vocal inflections.   Many times have I personally quoted his line “I’m gonna cut your heart out with a SPOOOON”.

This film cannot be considered history, it cannot be considered a direct interpretation of myth, it can’t even be considered as authentically English, as the hollywood gleam to it is clear, even forgetting Costner’s accent.   But it is good, escapist fun, with enough drama to keep the plot moving, yet with a regular element of tongue in cheek preventing it from ever getting heavy.   Sure, it was ripe for satire, but where Mel Brooks is concerned, wasn’t Star Wars also just as ripe??

4 stars (out of a possible 5)

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves on IMDB

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCxzyVfAz3E]

Love Actually – Alan Rickman Week

Director: Richard Curtis

Cast: Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Bill Nighy, Laura Linney, Keira Knightley, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Martin Freeman, Martine McCutcheon, Billy Bob Thornton, Rowan Atkinson

Synopsis: An ensemble film set in the weeks leading up to christmas with multiple story threads all based around the concept that “love actually is all around”.   Though a large part of this focus is on romantic love, affection between father and son, an d brother and sister are also canvassed in this piece.

A review by Film Nerd.

Richard Curtis is the absolute king of this genre.   The modern Brit rom-com largely is a result of his pen, as well as Hugh Grant’s dominance in this field.   His screen writing credits include both Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Notting Hill.   For this outing, he has also stepped into the director’s chair, for what I feel is his most satisfying film to date.   More than this, despite seeing the flaws in the film, it has true heart, and I can’t help getting carried away.   So much so that my colleagues and I named this blog in homage to the film, selecting this is one film loved by us all despite our different interests in film in general.

For me, part of this success stems from the fact that with so many story lines occurring, you never get bogged down in the usual third act will they/won’t they tragedy element.   In a film with a primary storyline, this device is often used to introduce the final scene act of absolute love to win over the object of desire.   Unfortunately this often feels contrived as the script in most cases slows in these instances.   Rather than get stuck though, we get enough to indicate the hurdles that must be passed before moving to the next story, so there is no element of dragging to reach a 90 minute or 2 hour running time.

This is not to say that this the cause of the film’s success.   Pacing is fine but you need a story(ies) to keep you interested.   Though some are a little contrived or over the top, they are generally all heart warming.   For some added realism though, not all story finishes well, sometimes showing the mistakes one can make in a marriage (Rickman and Thompson, both sympathetic in difficult roles), the self-sacrifice we sometimes go through for family responsibilities (Linney, brilliant as ever, and this film’s Curtis American muse, following Andie MacDowell and Julia Roberts), and even the simple, pure, unrequited love (Knightley, Ejiofor and Andrew Lincoln.   These scenes, though upsetting in comparison to the others, add a dose of realism and depth to the proceedings, which is not found in many rom-coms of the modern era.

Three brilliant stories dominate, however.   Grant’s newly elected Prime Minister falling for his catering staff member, Firth as the recently jilted author falling for his Portuguese house-keeper in his French villa (as you do), and Neeson establishing his relationship to his step-son following the death of his wife.   The first two on paper sound a bit twee, and all three have an almost outlandish crescendo of an ending, but at this point the characters have been likeable enough to barrack for, and to be honest, to not have a crescendo ending would feel like the audience was being robbed.

This is not a film for the romantically cynical, but if you believe in romance, this is a great film to share with a partner (Bride of Film Nerd, it is on our re-watch list!), or to enjoy by yourself with a lot of popcorn and chocolate.   This film convinces me of its unifying concept.    Love actually is all around.

4.5 stars (out of a possible 5)

Love Actually on IMDB

Love Actually on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYCkFTyADJ0]

Die Hard – Alan Rickman Week

Director: John McTiernan

Cast: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Alexander Godunov, Reginald VelJohnson, William Atherton

Synopsis: New York cop John McClane has taken a trip to LA for Christmas to visit with his estranged wife and children.   After arriving at her office building, a well organised, armed group of men  takes the employees remaining in the building for Christmas drinks hostage.   McClane eludes capture, and starts a one man war to bring these law-breakers to justice.

A review by Film Nerd.

The original Die Hard is a film that I don’t imagine we will see anything similar to it again, at least in the near future of this post-9/11 world.    A group of suspected international terrorists and high-rise buildings being shaken with massive explosions is not the type of project many major studios will now be jumping to give the green light.   A sentiment I certainly respect, but a reflection that in the modern era, movies have now lost some of their innocence.

As this is certainly to this day a very fun, action packed film.   Now having spawned 3 sequels of varying quality, with a fifth apparently now pending, there is no denying its popularity.    In addition, at the time of writing, the films holds spot 110 on the IMDB Top 250 films list.   The plot is pretty basic, and the film knows it.   It delights in putting McClane in to increasingly improbable and proportionately enjoyable (for the viewer) levels of danger… and all this with our star wearing no shoes!

There are three clear elements to the success of this film.   The first is director John McTiernan.   His presence was certainly missed in Die Hard 2, so much so that he was called in for the top job again by the time Die Hard: With a Vengeance was to come into being.   McTiernan’s two offerings are arguably the best in the franchise, with Die Hard 2 to this day proving the weakest link.   The next element was of course the man  of the week, Alan Rickman.   His villain, Hans Gruber, presented a new type of criminal to your classical actioner of the ’80s.   He is a man of style, substance, and intellect, with an initially unclear agenda.   Watching him unravel as McClane’s antics increasingly interfere with his goals is an absolute delight, in what was clearly a star making performance.   The final element is of course Bruce Willis, the one constant of the franchise.   His “every man” is out of place in the world of the Hans Gruber’s, but his pragmatic approach and sense of humour are what the film relies on.   It is like he is in on the “you have got to be kidding me” joke of the film, and with this presence guiding us through, the story never gets too bogged down or dour.

Most readers would have already seen the film, so I invite you to revisit it, and spend two hours forgetting reality and all the consequences and real life politics it entails.   To those who haven’t seen it, shame on you!!!   It is time you did something about that!!

Die Hard on IMDB

Die Hard on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qxBXm7ZUTM]