Wednesday, December 21, 2011

25 Days of Christmas Movies, Day 21: A Die Hard Double Feature (Archive Post)

 I don't have much headspace today for an original post, so I'm breaking out another archive post for you guys.  I will add that I'm happy to say that Christmas in WV was a success and I received a great many things I wanted...I am also happy to report that my gifts were well liked and at least one illicited a squeal of glee.  I had a really FAT day yesterday too...I mean I ate so much food that I went over my calorie count by something like 1000 calories.  However, I am happy to report that I am back on the wagon today and that it was a one time incident in celebration of the holiday (I think its ok to overeat one or two days at Christmas).  Anyway, today I decided to post some archives of two posts on my favorite holiday action flicks.  So sit back and re-experience Die Hard and Die Hard 2.

"Yippie Kay Yay, Motherfucker!" - Those of the immortal words of Detective John McClane...one of action's premiere characters and the star of the surprise hit of 1988, Die Hard.  Most people probably don't think of Die Hard as being too Christmassy, what with the explosions and blood squibs blasting out our surround sound speakers, but the film and its first sequel both take place on Christmas Eve...allowing the film to transcend preconceptions of what can happen in a Christmas movie, or what a Christmas movie can actually be.  Families all over the USA have written to movie magazines when polled on their favorite holiday films, and have said that Die Hard is one that they watch every December, sometimes even on Christmas Eve.  You may be scratching your heads and wondering why, but honestly few violent action films have ever truly been as FUN as Die Hard manages to be, and I think that is the reason for it becoming a holiday mainstay (besides its Christmas Eve setting).  This fun is due to director John McTiernan's handling of the material.  Yes its violent and yes its upsetting that terrorists would hold a bunch of people hostage on Christmas Eve (Alan Rickman's Hans has some truly cold and heartless moments) but at the same time, he has McClaine cracking wise, winning against insurmountable odds, and has cast several very amusing secondary characters such as Arguyle (De'voreaux White), Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson) and Holly McClaine (Bonnie Bedelia) that we are rooting for in the process.  McTiernan once said that the film was so dark that he wanted to be sure to put the joy back into it, the fun if you will.  This is why you hear the Ode to Joy in the score periodically.  Needless to say, this is one of the best action films of contemporary times and its one I always see every December.

Its time for another holiday sequel to follow this wonderful original, and it of course features our favorite everyman action hero John McClaine.  Yes friends, tonight I'm viewing Die Hard 2 which truly does, though you may not believe it, take place on Christmas Eve.  Yes, yes, I know that this film is yet another example of a sequel that simply repeats the formula of its predecessor almost to the letter...terrorists in an isolated area in total control vs. John McClaine on Christmas Eve with some fat headed obstinate cops thrown in for good measure...oh and Reginald VelJohnson, Bonnie Bedelia, and William Atherton reprise their roles as well.  Talk about convenience right?  Its almost too perfect...the kind of perfect that only the movies can do.  There are a lot of people who really hate Die Hard 2 because it merely repeats its formula and does little that is new or different...they also hate how the writers manage to conveniently reunite characters from the last film in ways that would never happen in reality (so they say).  Oh, and they think the airport control plot is much too complicated to be realistic.  I think these people are missing the big picture here...in the same way that people missed the big picture with Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (oddly enough, also from Fox).  Audiences wanted more of the same...and then when they got it, they criticized it for being the same.  Frankly, I think that while part 2 shares a great deal of common factors with part 1, it offers enough new suspenseful situations for us to be involved in to make me enjoy the film as a popcorn action film.  I think its fun and plausible (aside from the icicle death in the 3rd act...which I'm sure is possible, but my mind wants to reject it anyway) and a fair enough diversion as a sophomore sequel.  Sure the 3rd and 4th films are better, but you could do a lot worse as far as action films are concerned (Van Dahme or Segal anyone?).  Bruce Willis can just about carry any film anyway. (Watch for Robert 'T1000' Patrick as one of the terrorists in a gun battle)

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