Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Work Hard, Die Hard

If Life is the wellspring of writing, then no wonder I’ve been dry this past week. I had no freakin’ life! Argh. Last week was all about work and functioning at low-batt.

The whole week I was sick with a bad case of the flu but I didn’t have the luxury of taking a sick leave because of a couple of deadlines. Monday I knew I was in trouble because my throat was already itchy, but I could still function. Tuesday my throat condition worsened; I was sniffing and coughing the whole day; still I could function. Wednesday I felt feverish on top of everything; that was the warning signal. So Thursday I took the morning off because on Saturday I was scheduled to host a wedding reception. Friday the itchy throat disappeared, thanks to a couple of days of NyQuil-induced sleep and lots and lots of water and orange juice. Saturday I pulled off the hosting gig, though I wasn’t at the top of my game.

* * * * *

So Sunday I decided to get a life. How? I watched Die Hard 4.0.

I loved the first movie, especially because the set-up was brilliant and very focused—everything happens in one building. And Alan Rickman is one of the best, most memorable villains in movie history. The second was a step down. It was more of the same—a singular location (in an airport), but, but, BUT the villain was a lousy nobody. The third had Samuel Jackson, but his presence didn’t help add sass and pizzazz. Worse, they totally squandered the talents of Jeremy Irons as the villain; he had twice the brand name and star power of Rickman but half the latter’s wit and devious menace.

When they announced 4.0 with cutey-pie Justin Long (“Hi, I’m a Mac!”), I wanted to give this franchise a chance. And so I did.

The movie turned out to be PC. And I don’t mean politically correct. It was full of crashes and lots of hanging too, just like a PC. Sometime during the third time Bruce Willis’ aging John McClaine fell/flew/crashed/smashed into something then stood up a few seconds later with no broken bones (what kind of calcium is he taking?!), my mind gave up suspending its disbelief and told me, “I refuse to believe all this.” C’mon guys! John McClaine could whup Optimus Prime and Megatron and still get up with a few scratches, some blood cinematically smeared, and a smirk on his face.

My main problem with this movie is that it took itself too seriously. The main premise (really now, are we that interconnectedly wired?) and the action sequences are so out-of-this-world unbelievable, they make Transformers look like a reality show. Yes folks, I actually believed in Vehicles-That-Turn-Into-Robots more than Mr. Yipee-kay-yay Motherfucker. That’s because the former movie had enough wit to wink at the audience and say, “C’mon, alien robots? Just hang on for the ride.”

Plus 4.0 wants us to believe in its characters by putting committee-scripted stuff to Make The Characters Sympathetic (of all the characters, it was McClaine’s daughter who I found most real). Oh, and puhleez spare me the “one man can make a difference” and “that’s what makes you that man” platitudes. “More than meets the eye” was pulled off way, waaay cooler than that.

What made McClaine endearing in the first movie is that he was an ordinary man who did ordinary stuff that put a damper on the extraordinary plans of the villains. In the latest installment he became Rambo 4.0, a throwback to 80s excesses that really should remain firmly in that decade. Die Hard 4.0 works so hard, but in the end it never felt like a summer movie at the top of its game.

5 comments:

badinggerzie said...

ate. sa totoo lang nakaorlok ako sa 4.0. ewan ko ba . . . . nagpapakatrying hard akong maging die hard fan dahil may kadate akembang. pero wit pa ren kineri ng powers ko . ending . borlog!

cant_u_read said...

ang sipag naman nito! may sakit na, trabaho pa nang trabaho.. at kinakaya pang mag-comment sa TD&RS! wagi!

salamat sa suporta, joel maca*****! :-)

Brian Cua said...

nAko Joella, nanood kami kagabi ni ricci and we immensely enjoyed it, especially after 3 weeks of pomeranz craziness. care na namin sa plot. WE loved the death tunnel scene and the trailer vs. jet scene, na parang optimus prime vs. starscream and dating! and we especially LOVE the token EVIL ASIAN GURL VILLAIN!

Kai Santorino said...

Yup, it's only fun to watch when you're too tired and bored and braindead.

joelmcvie said...

BRIAN: It's the David Pomeranz withdrawal effect: even if I show you "Horsey-Horsey, Tigidig-tigidig, I Love You Daddy" you and Ricci would be giddy with amusement.