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Thursday, May 3, 2007

The unfortunate case of Live Free Or Die Hard (Or How I Learned to Stop Having Faith and Hate Hollywood)

PART I (originally posted on April 5th 2007)



And so we see why cinema is getting worse and worse every day. This trailer looks terrible. Sure, if you're into 'splosions and the kind of 'realism' reserved strictly for Michael Bay type films, the trailer probably gave you a hard-on. But this, and every trailer for 'Live Free or Die Hard' look NOTHING like a John McClane film. Die Hard was about a blue-collar cop facing off against a bunch of international thieves. He was in WAY over his head. He was an average guy, flaws a-plenty, losing his temper, almost crying at points, but still, overcame the obstacles and saved the day.

Now, we have this superman. Crashing cars into helicopters, taking down harrier jump jets, blowing shit up and cracking wise. Sure, the cracking wise is essential to McClane's character, but the rest of it is bullshit. Where's the wife-beater? Where's the alcoholism? Where's the dirt, grime and fu ck you attitude we've come to know and love from this character? Instead we have a shadow of McClane. A leather-clad, grinning imitation of his former self, PC-d up and shaven headed for this brain-dead generation. God forbid he'd have thinning hair. That'd be too real. And then, the worst part is, they throw in a dumb-ass computer geek character to ya know, appeal to the younger demographic. To bring in the kids. Someone they can identify with. We identified with McClane in Die Hard. All you have to do is stay true to the character, and all will be well.

Now, I'll admit, Die Hard 2 and Die Hard With A Vengeance had elements that were different from the McClane of Die Hard. But it was still McClane. This new version has nothing but the wise cracks. And that ain't good enough.
I'll admit, I may be jumping the gun. We've yet to actually see the film. But what we have seen of it is a bad indication of what is to come. I sincerely hope that the film proves me wrong. I want to see Johnny boy fight his way out of another mess. I want him to overcome the odds and beat the Euro-trash bastards with a yipee-ki-yay motherfucker! But I fear that what we'll be seeing will be a caricature of our former hero. A shadow of the bare-foot, thinning hair, wise cracking, Roy Rogers loving blue collar cop. You want to make a Bruce Willis over-the-top action flick? By all means, I'll pay to see it. But don't call it Die Hard.


PART II (originally posted May 3rd 2007)


Last month, I posted a little tirade on the state of the upcoming Die Hard sequel, Live Free or Die Hard. Having given out about the piss-poor state of the trailer, and how the film was shaping up to be a Die Hard imitation rather than a Die Hard film, I signed off with the following quote-

I'll admit, I may be jumping the gun. We've yet to actually see the film. But what we have seen of it is a bad indication of what is to come. I sincerely hope that the film proves me wrong. I want to see Johnny boy fight his way out of another mess. I want him to overcome the odds and beat the Euro-trash bastards with a yipee-ki-yay motherfucker!


Well it seems, we wont even get to see McClane kick some ass. Well not some hardcore kicking, anyway. Maybe a bit of a slap, and a telling-off. For, according to a quote from McClane himself, Bruce Willis in trade publication, Vanity Fair, Live Free Or Die Hard may very well be tailored to appeal to a PG-13 audience. That's right. All you parents are going to able to bring your kiddies along to the film as it is being cut for an age group that weren't even born when Die Hard was released in 1988.
It seems that Fox aren't willing to take the chance on a film rated R (or 15's here in Ireland and the UK, depending on the film). Because, you know, there's just way too much money to be made by tailoring the film to a younger audience. It doesn't matter that ALL THREE PREVIOUS DIE HARD FILMS were rated R. In this age of money obsessed film studios, making something with cahonies, just isn't going to bring in enough green.



Now, I was pretty pissed with the way Live Free Or Die Hard was shaping up. But man alive, I was more than willing to go see it for myself. However, now that the film is being neutered for a young audience, I will find it hard to bring myself to attend. I mentioned before how [Fox] throw in a dumb-ass computer geek character to ya know, appeal to the younger demographic, but I seriously did not expect them to take it this far. People my age, heck even a few years younger than me, grew up with Die Hard movies. Yet now we're being subjected to this shoddy treatment? We should be the ones the movie is aimed at. We're the loyal fans. And Fox is willing to sacrifice our loyalty for the sake of a few bucks? For shame.



Sure, the movie wont diminish the quality of Die Hard. But forever, fans will mention the Die Hard saga with a little grimace of pain. Live Free Or Die Hard will be associated with the previous movies. It's inevitable. If it's just a bad film, so be it. But one that's stripped of the balls of it's older brothers for the sake of cash? Unforgivable. This is Die HARD we're talking about. Not Die Soft.

And then we have Grindhouse. Many of you Yanks will have had the privilege by now of seen Messrs Tarantino and Rodriguez double feature complete in it's 191 minute entirety. 2 feature films, 3 fake trailers, absolute value for money. Something original. Reviews have been mixed, but for the most part, very positive in terms of the scope and originality of the film (for an homage to a long-dead genre, that is).



Yet somehow, the film didn't do too well at the box office in the States. And in a move that is absolutely appalling in it's indifference towards the art of cinema, Dimension Films, the studio behind Grindhouse, has decided, in all it's wisdom to ship Deathproof and Planet Terror to the rest of the world as two separate features. The whole purpose of the venture was to recapture the essence of the 1970's exploitation double feature. But none of us in Europe or the rest of the world will get this opportunity. Because in a move that is motivated purely by money (and don't pretend for a second it's something else), the film is going to be cut up and shown in different releases.

I, for one, was looking forward to paying to see two movies for the price of one. I wanted to get absorbed into the experience these directors were trying to bring to us. But now, I, and everyone else outside the US wont get the opportunity. Is there a possible solution to this dilema? Yes. But it's not ideal. It's barely acceptable. The solution, as I see it, is to wait until the Region 1 DVD release of Grindhouse (presuming it wont be butchered in that format too) and watch it on the small screen. So no cinema viewing for me.

Why is it that Hollywood is so motivated by cash and not art? Everyone would love to be rich, that's true. But would releasing films as they are originally envisioned really mean that the studios would lose money? Would having a little courage to release movies that aren't suitable for children mean that the film would be a failure? I really don't think so. Ticket prices are high as they are, and most people take a trip to the cinema quite often. There's money to be made here, without having to take the safe route.

Film-making is an art. But when money becomes the primary focus of those with the means to create art, the art itself is going to suffer. Sure, these are just two films. But they are just examples of a bigger problem. The sacrifice of originality and courage in film-making for the promise of a quick buck. And it's a very very sad thing to see happening to an industry that can produce such amazing works of art.

1 comment:

Ed Smith said...

Hollywood is a retard! You tell 'em Pete!