John McTiernan

Last Action Hero

Year: 1993
Directed By: John McTiernan
Written By: Zak Penn and Adam Leff (story), Shane Black and David Arnott

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was nine years old when this movie came out and I was this kid Danny Madigan.  I spent a lot of time in theaters watching movies alone, I lived for action movies, and I would have given anything for them to suddenly become my reality like they did for Danny in this movie. Naturally I loved the movie and still do despite how it was received when released.  It was a big budget movie that Schwarzenegger had invested a lot in but it was a critical and financial flop being released in the wake of Jurassic Park hitting the big screen.  The epic movie about dinosaurs immediately made box office history and largely overshadowed everything else that came out in the summer of 1993. Despite all that this movie was right up my alley and I still enjoy watching it today.

I have always been a fan of Arnold Schwarzenegger and admire the life he has lived. As an immigrant to this country he rose to become one of the biggest celebrities in the movie business and then went on to govern the largest state in the union. I grew up during his power years in the movie industry and came of age during his sabbatical into politics.  I call it simply a sabbatical because he has immediately tried to reassert himself into the movie industry after leaving office. He has had an interesting life and I have always loved his films, especially the ones in which he takes a comedic approach.  This movie gave him a chance to take a lot of shots at himself and make fun of what had come to be expected from him as an actor. I love how over the top his performance as Jack Slater is because that in itself was taking shots at his career and he seemed to have a lot of fun with it.  I really like how he can’t pronounce his own name correctly when he gets into the real world. In his efforts to say the name he is actually using an Austrian word that means something I can’t remember.

This movie was made by a great action movie director in John McTiernan who is probably known most for directing one of the greatest action movies of all time, Die HardWhat I have learned now is that not only was a great director behind camera but two of the writers involved have made significant splashes the last couple of years. This was the first story written by Zak Penn who just recently wrote the script for one of the most successful movies of all time, The Avengers.  Serving as screenwriter for this movie was Shane Black, who is living large right now after directing the third Iron Man movie that I am hearing good things about. We will probably wait for it to hit DVD before seeing it, it’s so hard to get out to the theater these days with two kids and our jobs.

Charles Dance was cast as the lead villain when Alan Rickman was unavailable.  I am a big fan of Alan Rickman but I’m glad he wasn’t able to do this one.  I think Charles Dance is a complete badass both in this movie and in his current role on Game of Thrones as Tywin Lannister. One of my favorite parts of the movie is when Danny threatens him not to hurt one hair on Brdigette Wilson’s head.  Dance tells his henchmen to stop and then pulls a hair from her head and breaks it in two right before his eyes.  “You were saying?” he asks, such a great villain.  I love a bad guy who is ruthless yet still has a sense of humor. With a cool selection of awesome glass eyes that also double as bombs to go along with his wit I think he fits the bill for great bad guy. I think it’s awesome how quickly he realized what happened when he crossed over realities, and how he was able to exploit the situation. On Game of Thrones he was perfect casting for the part of Tywin Lannister.  I particularly like how the show introduces his character in season one when he talks down to his son as he is graphically skinning a dear.

I’m sure there are plenty of things a strong critic could say about this movie but I don’t care.  This is a fun movie and sometimes having fun is the most important thing about viewing a film.  This movie had a big influence on my imagination as a kid and for my growing love of films.  While it is without doubt not Schwarzenegger’s best film it has always been one of my favorites from him.  It’s fast paced, funny, and it brings back old memories for me so naturally I would recommend it to anyone.  I have a biased opinion obviously but maintain confidence in the recommendation.  I think if you give this movie your time you will find that it was worth it.  Leave us a comment if you are so inclined and let us know how you feel about the film.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I remember the first time that I watched this movie. I wasn’t really sure what the hell I was actually watching at first, but then it sucked me in and I realized I actually liked it. Watching it today, I can’t help but imagine that little boy as Ryan. It is totally how I see him having growing up in the movie theater. The movies raised him and he lived to see movies. Shit he still lives to watch movies. This one is really fun and entertaining, and even makes fun of the action movie genre in itself.

lastactionhero

I had to take a double take to make sure that I wasn’t posting the Back to the Future review. This is just another one of those posters from this time. The awesome gradient in the typography, and the caricature-like images of the actors. This poster is cheezy, the movie is cheezy, so grab yourselves some cheetos and watch this cheezy ass movie. It’s worth a fun time.

NEXT MOVIE: The Last Boy Scout (1991)

Die Hard

Year: 1988
Directed By: John McTiernan
Written By: Roderick Thorp and Jeb Stuart

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is one of the greatest action movies of all time.  It set the bar for action films for a generation to come.  I wrote to some length about what I call the “Die Hard genre” in our Cliffhanger review, if you would like my thoughts on the subject click on the link.  This movie spawned both a franchise and a career for Bruce Willis that are both still going strong today.  Willis is still making action films and there is apparently a fifth addition to the franchise currently in the works.  I don’t particularly like what was done with the fourth film; it was just a pathetic effort to make money. This one is a classic though, and while the second was just a simple sequel I did think the third film was exceptional. This one, as well as the third was made by a good solid action director with one of America’s favorite action stars in the lead role.

This is probably John McTiernan’s most famous film and also his best.  He has made several action films of notoriety such as  Predator, The Hunt for Red October, Last Action Hero, and the third Die Hard film among others.  When this movie came out action films were dominated by these ultra-ripped muscle bound men like Schwarzenegger and Stallone. I think the casting of Bruce Willis made the character of John McClane easier for the audience to relate to. I’m talking about the cop we see in this Die Hard, not the one driving motorcycles into helicopters the fourth time around. Willis has made many great movies throughout his career and played many memorable characters. In this role of John McClane he proved to be believable, to be a reasonable down to Earth hero that the audience liked. He was able to parlay his success with this film into many opportunities. He has had a long and active career to say the least.  I have always been a fan of Bruce Willis, he is a badass.

Alan Rickman is terrific as the main antagonist Hans Gruber.  He has such a sinister sounding voice; he is always a good choice for the bad guy.  I am not a huge Harry Potter fan but I did like the films and he did a great job playing Professor Snape.  I watched a lot of Family Matters when I was a kid, and I have always liked the part Reginald VelJohnson plays in this movie. An interesting name RVJ has, I have always liked to think of him as “Reginald VelvettaJohnson” during my years killing time with Erkel.   Go figure the role Carl Winslow manages to snag in a film is that of a police officer.  Paul Gleason is also on board as an annoying authority figure, a role he has experience playing.

I have likened this movie to the male version of Pretty Woman before, as having a theme that was redone over in over again with a different cast.  I have spoken at length before about the many action movies made in the aftermath of this movie that have been just like it.  I think the fact that so many others emulated this film stands as a testament to how good the film actually is.  This movie is actually based on a book believe it or not.  The book was titled “Nothing Lasts Forever” and it was originally picked up as a sequel to Commando, but when Schwarzenegger turned it down Willis was cast and the story was rewritten a little bit.

I have heard before that this movie is called into question on whether it is or isn’t a Christmas film.  I do not know how anybody can deny that it is in fact a Christmas film.  It has Christmas music, a Christmas party, Christmas references, and I do believe Santa Claus is seen in multiple scenes. What more do you need for it to qualify? And who doesn’t find themselves feeling all Christmasy after seeing a classic American hero kill a bunch of greedy terrorist? When John McClane sends a dead terrorist down to the bad guys he doesn’t just say “hey thanks for the machine gun.” He follows his little quip with “HO HO HO”, to spread the Christmas cheer.

Like many of the movies we own you don’t need me to tell you why you should see this film, it’s freaking Die Hard. This is a great action movie that is always fun to watch.  I would suggest you see it at any and every opportunity and definitely around Christmas time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I am really sorry guys, but I just had a baby and with the lack of sleep I couldn’t make it through this movie. And as sad as it is [apparently], I have never seen this move. GASP! I will re-watch this movie and post an updated review later.

NEXT MOVIE: Die Hard 2