Clint takes a look at the ‘watered-down’ sequel
Why is it that Hollywood seems to water down their franchises by the time they get to the third or fourth instalment?
Is it because they know the film is going to make money and as a consequence fuck the audience over in exchange for a few more receipts?
By cutting out all the language – and no, that truncated “Yippee-Ki-Yay” doesn’t count – and bloodshed from the latest “Die Hard” movie, “Live Free or Die Hard” (or “Die Hard 4.0” as it’s known here in Australia), the studio was able to get away with a PG-13 movie. What that means is that the youngsters can get into see it – as opposed to the first films in the series which, in the states, were R rated and restricted to audiences a little older.
I’m sure it worked, I’m sure they did get a few more bums on seats as a result of the film being a kinder, softer “Die Hard”.
But, the trade-off?
“Live Free or Die Hard”, though entertaining, didn’t resemble the first films at all – it was closer in tone to say, a “Superman” movie.
A “Die Hard” movie without an unedited version of that famous catchphrase and some grisly action is like a “Porky’s” flick without jugs.
As I said in my review, “This Die Hard – surprisingly, it’s the only Die Hard film that didn’t start out as another movie; isn’t that ironic? – belongs in a whole different box to the other films in the series. Whereas the first three films were about a normal guy being caught up in some rather inopportune situations and having to sweat his way out of them, this one’s more or less a superhero adventure in the Schwarzenegger mould (it’s almost Commando meets True Lies). This John McClane can jump from trucks onto stealth fighter jets (I kid you not, its actually very corny), this John McClane doesn’t hurt at all when his body’s bashed behind fix, and this John McClane never feels the urge to swear – in fact, the worst he’ll call his opponent is “Jerk” or “Dickhead”. So no, it definitely isn’t the suspenseful this-could-happen Die Hard series we’ve become to know and love. For some reason, writer Mark Bomback forgot that John McClane was a normal guy and not the Terminator.”
To be fair, I don’t know whether adding a few more fuck’s and pumping up the violence factor in the movie would’ve helped the movie any more – but it definitely would’ve felt a little more like a “Die Hard” movie. Watching John McClane have to restrain himself here was just unbearable at times… it was like Colin Farrell guest-starring on “Sesame Street” (He’d be all “Hey, Big Bird, great to see you – lets sing a song”, when what he really wanted to say is “Wassupmanggoodtofuckinseeyamehay?gettingdirtyyellowbitches,eh? Brother?).
FOX did the same thing with “Alien Vs. Predator”. They extracted all the action and gore out so the ankle biters could see it. WTF?
I was watching “Lethal Weapon 3” the other night and was thinking the same thing – sure, it had its share of swearing and violence, but it was nothing compared to the first two movies. For the most part, it was a comedy. And a flat one of that.
Is it Joe Pesci’s fault? Yeah, kinda. He turned that series into something it didn’t start out as – it was originally dark, aggressive and hardcore; but by bringing Pesci’s Leo Getz into proceedings (in “Lethal Weapon 2”) it suddenly became, well, a lampoon of itself.
Leo Getz was funny for about ten minutes. But he didn’t need to make a return appearance in the subsequent sequels. The moment he turned up in “Lethal Weapon 3” – as the real-estate agent selling Martaugh’s house! – you knew something wasn’t ripe in the fruit bowl. Obviously lacking a good script, and some knockout action sequences, they decided to go the ‘funny sidekick’ route…. And made that the central attraction for the whole movie.
“Lethal Weapon” and “Lethal Weapon 2” were hardcore action movies. Both had brilliant scripts. Both featured so many unforgettable moments. I can’t think of one standout moment in “Lethal Weapon 3”. I mean, there’s moments like when Riggs and his motorcycle fly off the edge of a construction site and the bit with the skirmish in the fire near the end… but there isn’t really any stand-out action sequences in it. It’s all too soft.
Unlike “Die Hard” though, “Lethal Weapon 3” wasn’t soft because it wanted to attract a bigger audience – it just had a shitty script. Much like “Terminator 3 : Rise of the Machines”.
Considering how epic “Terminator 2 : Judgement Day” was, “T3” was always going to have it’s work cut out for them but nothing about the film is grand. Nothing. It’s very average. There’s some OK stunts, and the storyline is interesting enough, but once again… it just feels flat. It doesn’t belong in the same category – let alone series – as the first two films in James Cameron’s series. The pilot for “The Sarah Connor Chronicles” probably had about as much punch… and it cost a fifth of what “T3” cost.
And don’t even get me started on “X-Men : The Last Stand”. What a piece of shit. Bryan Singer must’ve been shaking his head when he saw that thing in previews. Brett Ratner took what was an unbelievable film series and turned it into a rushed, unexciting bit of junk. Not even Hugh Jackman could save it.
Thankfully, Universal didn’t kiddie-up the latest “Bourne” flick – that’s reportedly one of the only franchise pics of the past twelve months that’s actually got a dead-on link and tone share program with the previous instalments in the series.
For the love of god, please don’t let “John Rambo” lose his muscle, please don’t make “Indiana Jones 4” ‘all about the new, younger character’ and let’s have a “Terminator 4” that actually makes us wanna whoop-whoop in the aisles again.
The Movie-Going Experience : “The Grudge 2”
What : One of the worst sequels ever made.
When : On a Saturday afternoon in suburban Melbourne. Last year.
Details : Having missed the media screening, the wife and I decided to catch the sequel – we were hopeful that it was better than the forgettable original; and when I say original, I mean the Sarah Michelle Gellar starring American remake – in-season. We picked the wrong cinema. The cinema was packed with loud smart-ass kids who were much more interested in speaking on their phones and yelling to each other from across the other side of the cinema than sitting down and watching the movie. Considering I was there to ‘review’ the movie, I was steamed. Ended up complaining big time. I left about half-way through the movie; just couldn’t take it anymore.. I walked out with a handful of cinema vouchers thanks to the manager. Sometimes it pays to crack a wobbly.
Movie any good? : Fucked.
Night any good? : Fucked.