Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Inane and Banal - but one is better than the other

I'm a big fan of movies, and Hollywood has certainly delivered some quality classics over time.  Gone With The Wind and Casablanca from a bygone era and Master And Commander and The Pursuit Of Happyness are a couple of my  contemporary favourites. One is a courageous story of leadership and the other a heartwarming tale of success despite extreme adversity. 

So it was time after a recent flight that I felt compelled to write this blog about a film I saw on board. A Good Day To Die Hard. 

I enjoy a good action movie, and in general, the Die Hard franchise has provided some pretty good movies to date. But this one,  even though I inexplicably sat through all of it,  was utter tripe. 

Tripe - no other word to describe it!
To give credit where it's due,  some action some action sequences were pretty incredible,  especially the car chase through Moscow,  but how stupid and ignorant do the producers and directors think their audience is for making the plot the way it was? 

I'm sure I will miss a number of points,  but I will try and recount the number of scenes where reality takes a complete back seat in this movie (and I'm not going to include parts were the baddies get hold of helicopter gunships and chase Bruce Willis through the streets with it,  destroying half the city,  while he still escapes unharmed,  save for a scratch on his head and a slightly dirtier white t-shirt.. because that is the essence of an action movie). But with this action,  there has to be some semblance of reality to keep the movie credible,  and to me this is the "art" behind good film making of this genre. 

Anyway,  so here's the list:

The central courtroom in Moscow is blown up and a subsequent car chase takes 3 cars (including an armoured vehicle) on a wild chase around the central streets of Moscow,  but there is a complete absence of any police presence... anywhere! 

Bruce Willis grabs a tough Muscovite in the middle of the street to commandeer his car,  and at 60 years old,  manages to knock the Muscovite out with a single punch... Yet later in the movie,  our "hero" is smacked in the head with the butt of a rifle (something that should have cracked his skull), but Bruce Willis just shakes this off with a chuckle. 

The plot then takes us to Chernobyl.  A place in Ukraine (that's a different country for those with the intelligence of which the movie was aimed),  and they reach there by car!  from Moscow!  in a couple of hours (let's not even get into the issue of them having to cross borders in a stolen car without documentation and carrying weapons!) !!!

Some of the baddies enter the closed reactor of the power plant wearing radiation suits,  but those immediately outside seem to think they are safe in normal clothes. Better still,  when those inside the reactor measure the levels of radiation (which shows as extremely high on their iPad... what app is that they used by the way?) they spray a magical liquid around and instantly the radiation levels drop to zero instantly so that they can remove their suits! I bet Gorbachev wishes he had access to that 25 odd years ago! 

During the climactic last fight, Bruce is thrown sideways from helicopter (from at least 50 feet high and more than 100 feet sideways, through a glass windows,  landing and sliding across rubble) and just gets up and shakes off the mild shock to the system and runs back into action. 

And at the end,  Bruce Willis and his son (his partner through the movie), just return home... after destroying huge sections of Moscow (and Ukraine) without any issue.... As we are supposed to take for granted the incompetence of the Russians that they must have let them go "scot free" and probably even thanked these two individuals for dealing with a problem that the entire Russian law enforcement and intelligence community were unable to. 

Now I am not a formal movie critic, and don't even claim to be a connoisseur of fine productions,  but I know crap when I see it,  and this was it! Action blockbusters are mostly pure fiction and meant for entertainment,  and I'm the first to defend holes in plots as they make the storytelling easier,  but taking it to a level of insulting the intelligence of the viewer just makes me angry. 

I'll readily admit that  sometimes, I quite like watching brainless rubbish,  but the plots need to have some level of credibility. Indeed,  on the same flight as I just mentioned, I watched (and enjoyed)  another movie of questionable cultural relevance called Cockneys Vs Zombies... and to prove I can appreciate inane rubbish, I'll confess that I loved it! 

Great entertainment!

Set in East London,  zombies take over the area and a couple of immature wide boys and a group of OAP's (pensioner's) in an old people's home fight off the invasion. 

It's banal to the extreme, but made with good humour so you don't need to question it. You just laugh at the situation,  like how a man on a zimmer frame out runs a pursuing zombie. 

great comedy
Cockneys Vs Zombies caught the essence of London's East End culture and stereotype like any good guy Ritchie flick and gelled it with the violence and gore of a Tarantino offering,  and put it all together with some classic British humour to make a thoroughly entertaining movie that you could watch and enjoy without needing it to be credible. 

So much so, that ironically,  I bought more into believing the zombies movie than I did the Die Hard movie.

Come on Hollywood, time (and audiences) have moved on. You need to do better!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

My moan for the month!

So I played my son at Call of Duty (COD) this weekend and got suitably battered!

I still love playing video games myself, but am more a fan of sports games (versus my son's love for battle games). Also, because of my lack of time I play quick games and mostly on my mobile devices with touch screens, so what chance did I have against my battle hardened son on our PS3 and a game like COD?


I like to think I am still young (at heart and physically), but picking up that controller ages me instantly! I grew up in the early days of TV consoles and my "weapon" of choice was the classic Atari controller. A simple 8 way joystick and one action button. The controllers of today leave my mind boggling. What is going on with those things? I cannot understand how "youngsters" these days can get to grips with them and work with them so fast (and I feel aged by simply discussing this and having to refer to the next generation as "youngsters").

COD controls on the PS3

perhaps the only answer?
I try to get a hang on the functions beyond the basic functions of motion, looking around and then shooting, but by the time I work out in my head how to reload, select a weapon, crouch down or simply  understand where I am on the landscape, my son has pounced down a hill, come up behind me and slit my throat with his knife. He also commands drones and A10 bombers at will, and has an Arsenal of weapons on call depending on the situation and how he would like to execute his opponent. It's a tremendous act of concentration, hand to eye coordination and finger dexterity and I question how the humble human had of only 5 fingers can manage this kind of control at all.

It's actually very cool to see in action  ... the only reason I'm moaning about it is because I am jealous I can't do the same!