Tag Archives: 4/10

A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

“You know what I hate about the Americans? Everything. Especially cowboys.”

Cast: Bruce Willis, Jai Courtney, Sebastian Koch

die hard 5He’s back. Again. And after the last instalment, the bad reviews and my already dwindling hopes, A Good Day to Die Hard was going to have to give its all to get me back on side.

This time we are dealing with John McClane and his son, Jack, who seems to be getting into a lot of trouble in Russia. When McClane travels over there to re-establish his relationship with his wayward son, he discovers Jack is actually working for the CIA and in the process of trying to prevent a nuclear weapons heist. And so the film follows as a classic father-and-son-against-the-world type battle, as McClane and his boy fight against the baddies.

However, with numerous cringy scenes, wannabe action heroes, unnecessarily censored clips and predictable plot sequences, A Good Day to Die Hard made me die a little inside.

Well there is no other way to put this, Bruce Willis needs to realise his time being John McClane has long passed, and if Die Hard 4.0 didn’t show him that, we can only pray that this instalment did. Like I said previously, he is a mere shadow of who we once knew as John McClane, censored and conformed to fit within certain regulations. These changes have come about just so the film can be watched by the widest audience and just so the franchise can squeeze out even more money, meaning that this man who graced our screens as the epitome of action heroes, is no more. It has cheapened the qualities that made Die Hard so likeable in the first place and is a sacrifice that can’t be forgiven.

Willis is getting old and he needs to leave McClane behind now, while he still kicks ass it doesn’t look as easy or ‘normal’ (if you can call it that) anymore, fairly reminiscent of Stallone toward the end of the Rocky franchise. Jai Courtney, who portrays Jack, is quite a generic ‘bad boy’ character. He was nothing special in the role and it wasn’t all that memorable. In fact when I think back about his portrayal, all I can remember are these horrible back and forth exchanges with Willis and I don’t know if they were meant to be cute, funny, endearing or what, but I really didn’t like them.

The main element the film was lacking is an obvious bad guy. Previously we have had someone to label the antagonist, and we’ve seen McClane fight to take him down. With no one we can really identify as the baddie, we don’t really know who we are rooting for McClane to defeat. While this is because the film decides to throw in a few twists here and then, it doesn’t fit with the repeatedly successful formula Die Hards 1, 2 and 3 followed.

The big explosions, dangerous car chases and questionable action scenes were still in abundance though, and while it feels more contrived than previous instalments, it is still enjoyable to watch. There were a lot of desperate scenes too, almost as though the film was trying to be what Die Hard once was. Clever, witty and at times, quite comedic, underpinning an action heavy, gun riddled, classic shoot out between the good guys and the bas guys, but Die Hard 5 just doesn’t cut it.

All in all, A Good Day to Die Hard was terrible, there is no other way of really saying it, and I’m certainly not about to sugar coat it. Compared to the other films in the franchise, it’s really disappointing and along with Die Hard 4.0, they should be put in a box, never to be watched in accordance with the others. My advice, just stop after number 3.

Star rating:  4/10

Directed by John Moore.

Running time 97 minutes.

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Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011)

“Let’s start with forever.”

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner

I love it and I hate it. Simply because I read all the books before I saw any of the films, and I was a massive fan immediately, I feel my review may be a bit biased. So, I’ll do it purely from an objective angle and try and be less of a Twilight geek for the next 5 minutes.

Breaking Dawn opens as the final touches of Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward’s (Robert Pattinson) wedding is being put together. While Jacob (Taylor Lautner), shirtless and broody as always, receives an invitation from the happy couple and runs away in a strop all werewolf like. With the lucky girl that Bella is, Edward treats her to a honeymoon on Isle Esme, a private island just off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. Bella – having decided she wanted to remain human to experience her wedding night just like everyone else – soon finds herself in a dangerous and what she believed, impossible situation. She thinks she’s pregnant.

The remainder of the film is largely made up of baby bump, vampire vs werewolf, what’s going to happen to Bella? territory. Very typical of Twilight, though it seems the love triangle between Edward, Bella and Jacob has been toned down and replaced by a vamp-baby conundrum. At least the story actually moves forward and we get to get past all of this “I love her more” nonsense that we had to endure in Eclipse. Though it lingers on the pregnancy throughout, having nothing else to really clutch at.

The acting in the film is very average, though it seemed that Lautner was just that bit better than the rest, mainly because he actually conveyed emotion, even if it was just that of an angry kid. Stewart’s efforts at a withdrawn and anxious teen see her fall a little short in the acting department, and Pattinson doesn’t have that many lines, he just looks pretty and manages to drop his English accent and adopt an American one.

If you’re not already a fan of the franchise or on Team Edward or Team Jacob, the chances you will enjoy this film are slim. Because it’s pretty flimsy and involves a lot of close up glances, sideways smouldering looks and awkward exchanges, it doesn’t stand alone as a great film. There are also quite a lot of awkward visuals in the film. Ranging from a montage of flashing bright lights as werewolf Jacob runs through the woods, to flashbacks of previous films that don’t really add anything to the story. Then there’s a conversation between the pack of werewolves, which although much more visually improved, is just awkward and cringy – their mouths don’t move and their voices very suddenly become coarse and angry. It doesn’t fit with how we’ve seen them previously and interrupts the flow (if it can even be called that) of the film.

Breaking Dawn does get a bit more exciting towards the end of the film though; Bella goes into labour, the werewolves and vamps prepare for a fight and just as it reaches this point, the film stops, making way for the next instalment. Typical of a franchise, especially a teen franchise, but then this is how they’re going to cash in massively. Breaking Dawn raked up an estimated $138 million around the globe on its opening night alone, so there is no doubt that even if the film is crap (which it kinda is), those dedicated Twi-hards – including me – will always be there to watch it.

Star rating: 4/10

Directed by Bill Condon.

Running time 117 minutes.

Footloose (2011)

“You think I speak funny? You should hear you from my end!”

Cast:  Kenny Wormald, Julianne Hough and Dennis Quaid

It’s like the original, but with modern music and young actors who probably needed a break – they might still be looking for their break after this.

After a tragic car accident takes the lives of 5 high school students, Bomont outlaws the factors that they believed contributed to this horrific event, dancing and rock music. Enter Ren McCormack, a city kid with a cheeky attitude.

After the passing of his mother, Ren is sent to live with his Aunt and Uncle in Tennessee. When hearing of these ridiculous bans he decides something needs to be done, so begins his mission to have these laws abolished. Along with complicated love interest Ariel and his best friend, homegrown cowboy Willard, Ren and the gang are pretty much the same as they were in 1984.

Now I haven’t actually seen the original Footloose, but after watching the remake I can only wonder why they decided to modernise this film. From what I have heard, they really didn’t have too. The only differences are the music, the dancing and the decline in acting (though this point is arguable!).

I can vouch for the bad acting, it was terrible. To me it seems like the casting department were just looking for good dancers and thought that it would make up for the terrible performances. Well it didn’t. Wormald just couldn’t carry the script or make anything he did seem believable, never mind organising an uprising against Bomont’s authoritative figures. In most scenes he seemed uncomfortable and it was only through his dancing did he shine. Still, he’s no lead. Julianna Hough was better than Wormald, but only by a fraction. Again her dancing was spot on and she was well paired with Wormald, though they lacked chemistry when it came to dialogue which was a massive error for the lead romance.

As for Dennis Quaid and Andie MacDowell, they really didn’t fit in with the script. Whether it was through embarrassing facial expressions or overacting to try and compensate for their terrible judgement to be in the film, it just wasn’t meant to be and they knew it too. The only hope at saving the film was in Teller who was actually a joy to watch. Playing the loveable Willard, his transformation from klutz to smooth mover was great to see play out on screen. He had a charisma and appeal that Wormald lacked severely.

As a whole the film needed more charisma, better actors, more dancing scenes and to seem much less desperate. Maybe they should have just left the original Footloose as it was, it definitely didn’t need remaking if this was the result.

Star rating:  4/10

Directed by Craig Brewer.

Running time 113 minutes.

Bad Teacher (2011)

“From now on, my full time job is finding a guy who’s gonna take care of me.”

Cast: Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel and Justin Timberlake

Bad Teacher. Bad acting. Bad film. I had to force myself to watch this, and I’m not exaggerating.

Elizabeth Halsey is a foul mouthed, inappropriate, 7th grade teacher. All she is looking for in life is a man with a big bank account that can get her out of her dismal day job and let her live a life of luxury. When a new, handsome, substitute teacher, who happens to come from a weatlhy family catches her eye, she finds herself battling for his affection along with super-nice Miss Squirrel.

The plot is thin, the acting is worse and I found myself wincing at some of the laugh-it’s-meant-to-be-funny parts. Even Jason Segel couldn’t really put a smile on my face, I was shocked.

While Diaz tries her hand at playing the femme-Bad Santa, 20 minutes in and I knew there was no coming back, I had lost interest and then all my attention was turned to the acting – or lack thereof. Timberlake has been in some good films lately – The Social Network, Friends With Benefits – but Bad Teacher has seen him slip down in my estimations landing him back at the singer-wannabe actor level, not a good look.

Diaz’s attempt at a sexy, inappropriate bad teacher was great, she knocked the nail on the head and was pretty believable in the role, but the character as a whole was cringy and I didn’t like her. Crude and very one dimensional, there was no space for character development or explanation as to why she was such a ‘bad’ teacher, other than that she was just living for a materialistic lifestyle. As for Segel, he is one of my favourite comedians on the big screen but in this film though he really didn’t live up to my expectations. I found myself trying to look for his classic funny-guy character which unfortunately stayed concealed throughout.

With all the terrible things about the film, there were some good bits. The only people that sort of saved the film were Punch, who played the highly annoying Miss Squirrel to perfection and Phyllis Smith, who played Diaz’s sidekick Miss Davies, delivering some of the best lines in the film.

Basically with the whole premise of the film, you knew it wasn’t going to be pretty. Cheap gags, potty mouths and sexy scenes; it seemed like Kasdan was trying desperately to distract from the weak plot with smoke and mirrors. It did work in some cases and when you could see that the film was trying hard, all you could do was sit back and try to enjoy it.

In the end though it all really came down to whether it was worth the watch. For me, no it wasn’t. I won’t be seeing it again and all I can really say is that Bad Teacher was a mistake that actors like Diaz should try and avoid in the future. She can do better.

Star rating:  4/10

Directed by Jake Kasdan.

Running time 92 minutes.

Kidulthood (2006)

“I’m gonna bang ’em up blud. Trust me.”

Cast: Aml Ameen, Red Madrell and Noel Clarke

Kidulthood

Kidulthood is a hard-hitting, raw depiction of teenage life today. The film follows a group of 15 year olds on just one day of their adolescent lives. We watch as 5 teenagers find themselves being wrapped up in prostitution, drug abuse, physical abuse, self-harm, pregnancy, suicide and murder.

The film takes no mercy in showing the tougher side of growing up in today’s society and does so in a very brash fashion, surely to leave the audience with something to think about. While the premise of Kidulthood sounds enticing and full of potential, the script hasn’t been transcribed to screen as well as I’d hoped, which is unfortunate.

The first thing about the film that had me cringing was the dialogue and to some degree, the characters. The first thing we are introduced to is a mass of stereotypical, hardened London school-kids, bullying, smoking, spitting, swearing and way overusing “man, dude, blud” and other derivations in every sentence. It totally turned me off and I felt like switching the film over.

My initial reaction was met with the mindset that this was because it wasn’t a typical Hollywood production though. The film had a very small budget of just £800,000 to work with and being based and produced in London, it was obvious that there would be no blockbuster glamour or A-List type acting from the start. I then thought I’d give it a shot, but I think I was more hopeful than anything. If anything Kidulthood feels like it was made for TV, not cinema, like a longer version of a Skins episode.

The film does try to employ stylish editing and interesting camera angles so a definite A for effort, though I wasn’t that impressed with the results. If anything I was frustrated that it was trying to do something ‘special’ and failing miserably, it could have been so much better if they had thought of a simpler way to make the editing transitions smoother, but they were more concerned in making it look like a Hollywood production. The characters were annoying, clichéd and highly exaggerated. I get that if you were to film a group of teenagers on a single day, they would probably just sit around twiddling their thumbs, but there could have been a better way to approach certain issues in the film rather than overloading on content.

There are some good points about the film though. While I didn’t like all the actors – some were dreadful – there were a couple that really stood out. In particular Jaime Winstone who plays Becky, in my opinion she was the best actor in the film. Battling with prostitution and drug abuse I felt her performance was the only convincing one. The film also tackles some very important issues within society and does so with a weighty punch. It makes sure to raise awareness in troubling areas that are becoming increasingly common among the younger generation which is fantastic.

Unfortunately the majority of characters don’t undergo any sort of development or progression with themselves and in the end, they seem to be back right where they started. It gives the impression that this is what every teenager goes through on a daily basis. Is the message of the film that teenagers are beyond help? That they don’t learn from their mistakes? That society has degenerated to a state of lawlessness?

Overall it’s a very negative and unrealistic portrayal of the younger generation. While it tries hard and does succeed in raising awareness, tackling issues such as bullying and drug use, they really shouldn’t have attempted to pack absolutely everything into one film, nevermind one day. While the issues in the film do occur in society, the film seems like one big push to get everything across to the audience which then makes everything seem far too exaggerated and unrealistic, detracting from the important messages that seem to be drowned by the content.

Star rating: 4/10

Directed by Menhaj Huda.

Running time 89 minutes.