Also known as: Die Hard 2 (simplified title), 58 Minutes (working title) Release Date: July 2nd, 1990 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: Renny Harlin Written by: Steven E. de Souza, Doug RIchardson Based on:58 Minutes by Walter Wagner, characters by Roderick Thorpe Music by: Michael Kamen Cast: Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, William Atherton, Reginald VelJohnson, Franco Nero, William Sadler, John Amos, Dennis Franz, Art Evans, Fred Thompson, Tom Bower, Sheila McCarthy, Vondie Curtis-Hall, John Leguizamo, Robert Patrick, Mark Boone Junior, Colm Meaney, Robert Costanzo
Twentieth Century Fox, Gordon Company, Silver Pictures, 124 Minutes
“Oh man, I can’t fucking believe this. Another basement, another elevator. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?” – John McClane
Why the fuck do people shit on this movie? It’s a solid action flick with a solid action star that also boasts one of the manliest casts ever assembled for a motion picture not named The Expendables.
I love this movie and while I can recognize that it isn’t a perfect masterpiece like its predecessor, it is still a fine motion picture that helped to make the original Die Hard Trilogy one of the greatest trilogies of all-time. That was all undone and fucked up once Hollywood went back to the cow to milk the tits off of the franchise years later but I still consider the first three Die Hards to be a trilogy and that’s that.
John McClane is back and honestly, that’s all you really need. However, they set this one at Christmas, once again, and then padded out the rest of the cast with some of the coolest male actors of the time: Franco Nero, William Sadler, John Amos, Dennis Franz, Art Evans, Fred Thompson, Tom Bower, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Robert Patrick, John Leguizamo, Mark Boone Junior and Colm Meaney. Not to mention that they also brought back Bonnie Bedelia, William Atherton and Reginald VelJohnson in a cameo.
There is so much testosterone in this picture that it is hard to see the movie sometimes as it’ll spill over the top of the screen and ooze down the front of it. If that’s not what you’re looking for in an action flick circa 1990, then go watch Fried Green Tomatoes with your Aunt Millicent!
This film grabs you from the get go and doesn’t let go until the credits roll. It’s packed full of action and when shit isn’t blowing up or getting shot at, we’re treated to solid scenes between the solid cast and thus, there isn’t a dull moment in this entire picture.
I love the chemistry between just about everyone in this film. Bruce Willis, at least in this era, could work with anybody and bring the best out of them. While the guy has unparalleled charisma, it always seems to carry over and rub off on anyone he works with. I absolutely loved his banter with Dennis Franz and I also loved his camaraderie with Art Evans.
Looking at another tandem that’s great in this picture, I have to tip my hat to Bonnie Bedelia and William Atherton. This is their second time playing these characters that are at odds with one another but they work so well together that it kind of sucks that they never came back for any of the other films.
Look, it is hard to top perfection, which is what the first Die Hard was. But, man, this is a really good attempt at trying to follow it up and just give the fans more of what they wanted.
Rating: 9/10 Pairs well with: the other Die Hard movies, as well as other Bruce Willis action films of the era.
Release Date: July 15th, 2016 Directed by: Brendan Mertens Music by: John Avarese Cast: William Atherton, Dan Aykroyd, Matt Cardona (Zack Ryder), Dave Coulier, Paul Feig, Kurt Fuller, Ernie Hudson, Ivan Reitman, James Rolfe, Jennifer Runyon, Sigourney Weaver
Double Windsor Films, Patchwork Media, Don’t Quit Your Day Job, 73 Minutes
There are a lot of specific fandoms out there. In this day and age with crowdfunding, it seems like all of them have their own documentaries. That’s cool though, as I find myself as a part of many different fandoms. Maybe not to the extent of the people in these sort of documentaries but I’m always down to hear from people that share one of my many passions.
I’ve loved Ghostbusters almost my entire life. I first saw it at five or six years-old and I was hooked. Between the two movies, the animated series and the toys, I spent a lot of time with my imagination locked into the Ghostbusters world.
What’s impressive about this specific fandom documentary, however, is that it actually interviews a lot of the people who were involved in the films and in the genesis of the franchise’s creation.
It’s cool hearing from the actors, the filmmakers and even voice actors from the cartoon.
Beyond that, this also focuses on the fans, as most fandom documentaries do because that’s sort of the point.
All in all, it seems like these films are a dime a dozen. But this is definitely one of the better ones I’ve seen.
The Ghostbusters fan community really goes all out on the cosplay and in trying to deck out their own personal vehicles to resemble the iconic Ecto-1. It’s hard not to appreciate that sort of enthusiasm.
Rating: 6/10 Pairs well with: other documentaries about specific fandoms.
Release Date: August 7th, 1985 Directed by: Martha Coolidge Written by: Neal Israel, Pat Proft, Peter Torokvei Music by: Thomas Newman, The Textones Cast: Val Kilmer, Gabe Jarret, Michelle Meyrink, William Atherton, Robert Prescott, Jon Gries, Ed Lauter, Patti D’Arbanville
Delphi III Productions, TriStar Pictures, 108 Minutes
“This? This is ice. This is what happens to water when it gets too cold. This? This is Kent. This is what happens to people when they get too sexually frustrated.” – Chris Knight
Real Genius is one of those comfort movies from my youth. I loved this film when I was a kid but I was always really into tech stuff and my love for G.I. Joe and sci-fi had me really interested in military weapons science. Although, the kids in this film didn’t know that they are building a superweapon until it was too late.
Val Kilmer, who was the “king of cool” for quite some time between the ’80s and ’90s, felt authentic in his role as Chris Knight, a super genius that was a bit burnt out and just wanted to party and enjoy life. Gabe Jarret was also really good as Mitch, the younger super genius that came to the college at fifteen and roomed with Chris. The rest of the kids also felt real and all of them played their roles to perfection.
William Atherton, quintessential ’80s adult super villain, was up to his old tricks as the authoritative and vindictive heel to the heroes. He was a celebrity scientist with a hit show who was using the university as a means to get super smart kids to create a killer laser for the U.S. military. Atherton’s Professor Hathaway was the Joker to Kilmer’s Batman. Wait… Kilmer would eventually be Batman. Whoa! Imagine an Atherton Joker. And hell, what if Mitch became the Riddler? Okay, I’m distracted… sorry. But now I can’t get the thought of Michelle Meyrink as Catwoman out of my head. Or the Asian kid being Mr. Freeze because he freezes stuff. And Lazlo could be Two-Face… mainly because he’s tall. And well, Kent could be Scarecrow because he’s a jerk and a total pussy. Damn it! Get back on topic!
Anyway, Real Genius is a film that’s a hell of a lot of fun and has a good solid message.
It’s about kids fighting authority and a system they really don’t want to be a part of. A system that exploits them for their talents. And it is a cool movie because the kids fight back and outwit the adults that think they’re smarter than the geniuses they tried to dupe. Ultimately, this is a coming of age movie that deals with the youth’s inability to trust a scary adult world that existed before them and corrupted their parents.
Real Genius is much more than a standard ’80s teen comedy. It is well written with lots of talented young actors that play their parts convincingly. Val Kilmer has done a lot in his long career but this is still my favorite role that he’s ever played.
Can we maybe get a sequel featuring an old, even more burnt out Chris Knight living in Mitch’s basement where Mitch has to deal with “cool uncle” Chris teaching his kids how to have fun because Mitch grew up to be even lamer and more uptight? And Kent could be the district manager over a dozen Radio Barns that are closing down because we live in an Amazon world. And Lazlo could be like a hybrid of Mark Cuban and Bill Gates. I should really just write pointless sequels for a living, I’ve got a lot of unrefined and ambitious ideas, y’all.
Rating: 8.5/10 Pairs well with:WarGames, D.A.R.Y.L., Revenge of the Nerds and Weird Science.
Release Date: July 12th, 1988 (Los Angeles premiere) Directed by: John McTiernan Written by: Jeb Stuart, Steven E. de Souza Based on:Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp Music by: Michael Kamen Cast: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Alexander Godunov, Reginald VelJohnson, Paul Gleason, De’voreaux White, William Atherton, Clarence Gilyard, Hart Bochner, James Shigeta, Al Leong, Robert Davi, Rick Ducommun, Mary Ellen Trainor, Wilhelm von Homburg
Gordon Company, Silver Pictures, 20th Century Fox, 132 Minutes
“This time John Wayne does not walk off into the sunset with Grace Kelly.” – Hans Gruber, “That was Gary Cooper, asshole.” – John McClane
I ended the year and the holiday season on a bang, as I got to see Die Hard on the big screen. I saw the second and the third ones in the theater but seeing the original on a 3o foot tall screen wasn’t something I got to experience when I was nine years-old in the summer of 1988. I’m glad I got to rectify that injustice, as Die Hard is purely perfection.
Yes, I know that using a word like “perfection” is pretty bold but Die Hard made a bold statement when it came out in a time when the action genre was ruled over by the two kings of the ’80s: Stallone and Schwarzenegger.
Bruce Willis was a nobody in 1988, other than being Cybill Shepherd’s sidekick on TV’s Moonlighting and for playing a good villain in one episode of Miami Vice. This is the film that made him a star and a household name, almost instantly.
This film has a pretty amazing ensemble cast as well. You have two of the ’80s biggest weaselly character actors with Paul Gleason (The Breakfast Club) and William Atherton (Ghostbusters and Real Genius). You have the ’80s and ’90s quintessential lovable cop, Carl Winslow himself, Reginald VelJohnson. You’ve also got Robert Davi as an FBI agent and Al Leong as an evil henchman, which was his modus operandi back in the ’80s.
The two biggest parts, after Willis’ John McClane, are Bonnie Bedelia, as his wife, and Alan Rickman, as the German terrorist Hans Gruber. As great as Rickman always was and even considering his iconic run as Snape in the Harry Potter films, this, to me, was always his greatest role. Having just seen this again, I still feel that this was the greatest and coolest role that Rickman ever had. He played it so well, even with his fairly funny scenes faking an American accent.
While the 1980s gave us the best action movies of all-time, many of them have flaws and a certain level of cheesiness to them, especially now, three decades later. Die Hard, however, still brings it. And while it has its funny lines and moments, they never got cheesy. It all still works and works well. The plot is solid, the action is amazing, well thought out, well executed and there are a lot of layers to the film that all weave together in a sort of brilliant way that you just don’t see in straight up action flicks.
Die Hard is perfect. And the reason why is that it is damn near impossible to pick it apart and to try and figure out a better way to make it work. It doesn’t feel dated and it should when looked at within the context of when it came out and what the standard was at the time. The vast majority of Stallone and Schwarzenegger’s movies feel dated but somehow, Die Hard feels truly timeless. It’s a smarter and better executed film than one would probably assume at first glance. It is greater than the sum of its parts and all the elements of the film come together seamlessly and impeccably.
For those who haven’t seen these films, you have wasted your time on this planet. In fact, these are films that should be beamed into the brains of unborn babies. This would eliminate any chance of horrible humorless babies coming into the world. America, or the world for that matter, doesn’t need anymore humorless jerks being born to boring parents.
These films are great. The first is much greater but the second is still damn good. So let me get right into these movies.
Release Date: June 7th, 1984 (Westwood premiere) Directed by: Ivan Reitman Written by: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis Music by: Elmer Bernstein Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, William Atherton, Slavitza Jovan, Casey Kasem (cameo)
Black Rhino, Delphi Productions, Columbia Pictures, 105 Minutes
I was five years-old when this came out. I didn’t see it in the theater because my mum thought it was “too intense”. She was wrong, as I saw it when I was six and fell in love with the film and its cast.
My young mind was exposed to Bill Murray, as well as Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. From that point forward, my lifelong allegiance to those three was solidified. Hell, I also had an allegiance to Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts after this film.
Few films, even great comedy ensembles, are able to assemble a cast this good. Originally, John Belushi was set to play Murray’s part but his death changed things. Eddie Murphy was also cast in the role that went to Ernie Hudson while John Candy had Rick Moranis’ part. All things considered, I’m glad the film turned out the way it did. I think Murray is the gel that makes this unit work.
Great cast aside, the film was fun and original. The story sees three failed scientists and a hired fourth guy go against the paranormal forces that are ravaging 1980s New York City. It is a pretty nonstop film that moves fast from the first scene through the climactic final battle with Gozer the Gozerian.
Peter Venkman is Bill Murray’s greatest character, even though many can just say that he’s playing Bill Murray with a bit more intelligence in the realm of science. It is also Ramis’ and Aykroyd’s most iconic roles. The film is a perfect storm of talent, comedy, action and storytelling.
The special effects, for their time, are top notch and well executed. The diversity in the types of ghosts and supernatural characters is pretty astounding. While this film could’ve played as well with typical one-dimensional ghost characters, the filmmakers got insanely creative and took a lot of liberties.
Ghostbusters isn’t a perfect film.. no, actually, it is.
Ghostbusters II (1989):
Release Date: June 16th, 1989 Directed by: Ivan Reitman Written by: Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd Music by: Randy Edelman Cast: Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver, Rick Moranis, Annie Potts, Peter MacNicol, Kurt Fuller, Wilhelm von Homburg, Mary Ellen Trainor, Christopher Neame, Chloe Webb (uncredited), Kevin Dunn (uncredited)
Columbia Pictures, 108 Minutes
It took five years to get a sequel. Many think that it is inferior to the original, and they aren’t wrong. But it is still great and although it doesn’t capture lightning in a bottle a second time, it does retain some of the magic of the first film.
At its worst, it is a continuation of these characters’ lives. With a talented cast, such as this, it is hard to make a bad film, even if a sequel wasn’t necessary.
The entire cast that I mentioned in my write-up about the first movie, returns in this installment. We also get the addition of Peter MacNicol, who was brilliant and really steals the scenes that he is in – a tremendous feat when sharing the screen with Murray, Aykroyd, Ramis, Hudson, Weaver and Moranis. I’m surprised that MacNicol hasn’t done more comedy like this.
This chapter sees the Ghostbusters go against Vigo the Carpathian, who is an homage to Rasputin and Vlad Tepes (the real Dracula). He is in search of a baby to be his vessel for reincarnation. It just so happens that Weaver’s character is now the mother of a baby.
While not as outright funny as the first film, the humor is still top notch, the gags are funny and it is just nice to see these guys together again for another two hour romp.
Ghostbusters II isn’t an example of a bad sequel, it is a good sequel. While it wasn’t needed, we got it. It could have been much worse but I am happy with the finished product, regardless.
I just re-watched The Crow and all of its sequels. I watch the original film about once a year or so but it has been a long time since I have seen the sequels. Instead of just reviewing one of them, I figured I’d give my two cents on each film.
The Crow (1994):
Release Date: May 13th, 1994 Directed by: Alex Proyas Written by: David J. Schow, John Shirley Based on:The Crow by James O’Barr Music by: Graeme Revell Cast: Brandon Lee, Ernie Hudson, Michael Wincott, Bai Ling, Rochelle Davis, David Patrick Kelly, Jon Polito, Tony Todd, Jeff Imada
Dimension Films, Miramax Films, 102 Minutes
The first film in the series is by far the best, that isn’t even debatable. The cast was pretty fantastic, as director Alex Proyas (Dark City, I, Robot) strung together a nice team comprised of Brandon Lee (Rapid Fire, Showdown In Little Tokyo), the late son of Bruce Lee, as well as Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, Oz), Michael Wincott (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Basquiat), Tony Todd (Candyman, Platoon), Bai Ling (Anna and the King, Three… Extremes), David Patrick Kelly (The Warriors, Twin Peaks) and newcomer Rochelle Davis, who has only appeared in one other film.
The tone of the film was perfect, the music was perfect, the casting of Brandon Lee was perfect. There aren’t a lot of negatives that one can find in this near masterpiece. For its time, it was one of the best, if not the best, comic book films of all-time. The only comic book films that one could possibly put in front of The Crow are the Richard Donner Superman films and the Tim Burton Batman films. In 1994, when this movie was released, comic book movies were very scarce.
This is a film that has a strong cult following and deservedly so.
Brandon Lee died on set due to a firearm accident and it had to be finished without him. There was a lot of debate as to whether or not the film should even be released but it was and has had a certain degree of mystique attached to it. The real-life tragedy added to the emotion and darkness of the film in a way that didn’t make light of Lee’s death or try to capitalize off of it. Everything, in my opinion, was done tastefully and in a way that honored the actor and gave people a look at his best work.
The chemistry between Lee and Davis, as well as Lee and Wincott was pretty strong. Brandon Lee gave this his all and it was a good display of his talent, which never got to grow and reach the heights it could have.
Plus, there is a performance by My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult in the film.
The Crow: City of Angels (1996):
Release Date: August 30th, 1996 Directed by: Tim Pope Written by: David S. Goyer Based on:The Crow by James O’Barr Music by: Graeme Revell Cast: Vincent Perez, Mia Kirshner, Iggy Pop, Richard Brooks, Thomas Jane
Dimension Films, Miramax Films, 84 Minutes
The first sequel in the series was pretty bad, which would become the trend. It starred Vincent Perez (Queen of the Damned) as the title character and I still can’t recall anything noteworthy that I have seen him in besides this. It also starred punk rock legend Iggy Pop (Dead Man, Tank Girl), Thomas Jane (The Punisher, Hung) and Mia Kirshner (The L Word, The Black Dahlia).
Iggy was fantastic and just completely Iggy, which made his character great. Kirshner was angelic and beautiful with a real genuine level of sweetness but she was also more or less a statue propped up in the background to add allure to a very ugly looking film. Tom Jane basically just played a weird pervert and he was unrecognizable in the role.
I would consider this film to be the second to worst in the series. And there really isn’t much one can say about it. It is empty, soulless and an awful rehash of the classic before it.
But again, it features Iggy Pop and I will watch him in anything.
And I love Mia Kirshner, who has never looked better than she does in this.
The Crow: Salvation (2000):
Release Date: January 23rd, 2000 Directed by: Bharat Nalluri Written by: Chip Johannessen Based on:The Crow by James O’Barr Music by: Marco Beltrami Cast: Eric Mabius, Kirsten Dunst, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Fred Ward, William Atherton, Walton Goggins
IMF, Edward R. Pressman Film Corporation, Jeff Most Productions, Pacifica Film Development, Dimension Films, 102 Minutes
The second sequel was better than the first sequel. After the original film, this is the best installment of the series. It starred Eric Mabius (Ugly Betty, Cruel Intentions), Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man, Melancholia), William Atherton (Real Genius, Ghostbusters), Fred Ward (Tremors, The Right Stuff) and Walton Goggins (The Shield, Justified).
Mabius was much more personable and likable than his predecessor, Vincent Perez. Dunst was good but nothing extraordinary. Atherton and Goggins were both presences in the film but didn’t leave me with anything all that memorable. Fred Ward, one of those lesser-known actors I’ve just always liked for some reason, did a pretty solid job of playing the scumbag evil bastard in this film.
From a storytelling standpoint, this offered so much more than City of Angels. It involved a conspiracy, a cover-up and evil dudes sending an innocent kid off to die for their sins. It wasn’t as straightforward and as simple as the previous films in this series. Granted, it wasn’t a storytelling masterpiece but it had depth and a bit of mystery.
The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005):
Release Date: June 3rd, 2005 Directed by: Lance Mungia Written by: Lance Mungia, Jeff Most, Sean Hood Based on:The Crow: Wicked Prayer by Norman Partridge Music by: Jamie Christopherson Cast: Edward Furlong, David Boreanaz, Tara Reid, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Dennis Hopper, Tito Ortiz, Danny Trejo
Dimension Films, 99 Minutes
The final film in the series was god awful, and that might be an understatement. It starred Edward Furlong (Terminator 2, American History X), Tara Reid (American Pie, The Big Lebowski), David Boreanaz (Angel, Bones), Tito Ortiz of UFC fame, Danny Trejo (Machete, From Dusk Till Dawn), Dennis Hopper (Speed, True Romance) and a very brief appearance by singer Macy Gray.
Furlong just looked ridiculous as the Crow. I think the hair had a lot to do with the sloppy shitty look. Also, Furlong by this point, had grown too old and looked like a washed up forty-something Robert Smith wearing his Cure makeup instead of an awesome twenty-something Robert Smith wearing his Cure makeup. Furlong’s acting was horrible but so was everyone else’s.
Boreanaz was deplorable, Tara Reid was annoying and not naked enough, Tito Ortiz was a dipshit and Danny Trejo was the worst I’ve ever seen him and I really love that guy. Dennis Hopper took the cake, however, as he stumbled through some of the worst written lines I have ever heard in a film. It sucks that such a great actor was working on shit like this so late in his career.
Technically speaking, the special effects were disastrous, the cinematography was nightmarish and the editing was shit. There isn’t anything nice I can say about this film.