So I didn’t feel like doing shit yesterday. Instead I watched Die Hard, Die hard 2, and Die Hard with a Vengeance. A perfect trilogy in my mind.
Then I got to thinking, wait there is a new Die Hard out there. And it sucks!
Then I got to thinking how so many great trilogies suffer the same fate: some uninspired exec starts thinking, “Hey we made a lot of money on those great movies 10, 20 years ago. Lets do that again!”
So this is a list of some of the best Trilogies Hollywood has offered us in the past 25 years or so, and how they were ruined by the fourth installment.
The original came out in 1988 and revolutionized the action genre. No longer was the hero a super ripped, ultra killing machine. Jon McClane, as immortalized by the amazing chops of Bruce Willis, is a NY cop caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s trapped in a building where terrorists have taken hostages, including his wife. He sneaks around, hunting the bad guys down one at a time and getting all kinds of fucked up in the process. Great action, killer special effects (no CG thank you very much) and perfect doses humor and gore, Die Hard is one for the ages.
It was followed up by Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Die Hard with a Vengeance. Same basic rules apply. McClane kills baddies, makes jokes, smokes cigarettes, repeat. The villains are great, the sidekicks are great, the movies are GREAT.
Then about 12 years later, someone starts thinking, Bruce Willis hasn’t been in an action film for awhile. Sure he does some Unbreakable types and some comedic stuff, but what we really want to see is a bald 50 something blowing shit up. So enters Live Free or Die Hard. By far the stupidest title of the series. LForDH is a jumble of incoherent action, lame one liners and impossible scenarios. Justin Long as the sidekick doesn’t hold a candle to past allies, which included Sam “Bad Mother Fucker” Jackson and Carl Winslow. Carl Winslow people! And Timothy Olyphant is a stilted and unimpressive villain. He doesn’t even compete with Alan Rickman, Jeremy Irons, or even William Sadler. That’s right Sadler, you do that Yoga naked!
The action is totally CG’d making it fake. Not cool, fake. There is a difference. You know that scene in Die Hard where the roof blows up and the helicopter goes down? It was miniatures! That’s film making. CG comes off as lazy and cheesy. In short, LForDH just doesn’t do it for me. The plot is ridiculous. The action seems lifeless and sometimes I just can’t get over the PG-13 rating. All that toned down, bleeping out the catchphrase shit kills it. Really kills it.
Pitting a crazier that all Hell Mel Gibson with an “I’m too old for this shit” Danny Glover was movie magic about 20 years ago. And even when they threw in an “Ok Ok Ok” Joe Pecsi I didn’t mind. It was Lethal Weapon, and it basically did everything Die Hard did on a broader scale. Lots of action, humor, the works.
Then Lethal Weapon 4 comes along and gets all judo chop on us. Gibson is like a family man, Glover really IS too old for this shit, and freakin’ Jet Li is the bad guy? I like Jet in karate movies, I guess. He’s cool. But him kicking the shit out of Mel Gibson is just kind of weird for me. Just fucking shoot him!
The Karate Kid
Ralph Macchio is the Karate Kid. Not Hillary Swank. Got it? Good. Moving on.
Yea, Alien was the shit. And then its sequel, Aliens (and yes I know that’s the poster featured and not the original), was even more awesome! It was like Alien on crack. Sigourney Weaver was born to play Ripley, hands down the baddest girl on the block.
Space marines? Yes Please.
Ian Holm AND Lance Henrickson as androids? Thank You.
Jon Hurt with an alien popping out of his chest? Booya!
Even Alien3 had its merits. I know it wasn’t all that great, but it tried to take the story in a new, yet familiar direction. David Fincher gave it his all, and the action was rightly stylized for the picture. Then you had Ripley die at the end, all wrapped up and acceptably satisfying.
So what the fuck was up with Alien Resurrection?
A cast that includes Ron Perlman and Dan Hedaya and Brad Dourif should never be this awful. But it was. It really was. Sorry to all of you, “It wasn’t that bad. Stop whining” people out there. But it was that bad. And I’m not whining. I’M YELLING!!
With so many critics already bashing this shit fest so much I feel I have little to contribute, but I will. You ruined my trilogy Alien Resurrection. For that I will curse you all the days of my life. Curse You!!
You see there is something special about the trilogy. It feels right. Its enough and it can fully explore one story or character through three acts. Or it can serve as a glimpse into three entertaining points in one character’s odyssey. But to “Resurrect” that character pointlessly for obvious financial gain and thus ruin the previous entries in a way that cannot be undone is unforgivable. Thus…
Fuck you Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. All you did was soil Indy’s rep and spawn the catchphrase “Nuking the Fridge.” And we already had “Jumping the Shark.” You were unnecessary in every way possible. Aliens? Not my Indy. Shia LeBarf? the most laughable sidekick EVER. The killer ants? Kind of funny, but stupid, very stupid. Never speak to me again Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, don’t even look at me. I hate you.
First Blood was a great film. It had Stallone doing what he does best, killing dudes and yelling shit out at random. “They drew first blood!” Rambo: First Blood Part Two took it back to the jungle in an iconic film that practically defined action in the 80’s. Rambo III took it to another level. Short of parody, it embodied the lesser aspects of the 80’s action genre, like big poofy Stallone hair.
A Rambo anecdote, if you will permit me:
Once, I was watching a copy of First Blood on Laserdisc. ( I have a laserdisc collection, jealous?) and as soon as it stopped the channel my TV happened to be on started playing the opening SECOND of Rambo: First Blood Part Two. The timing was so exact, I looked at my LD player, thinking it was possessed. I had not planned on watching R:FBPT, but I had to, just had to right then and there. That is how great these movies were.
So along comes Mr. Movie Exec and he’s going, “Hey Stallone’s career just got a jolt from Rocky Balboa. Lets put that overweight has-been back in the jungle for more ethnic cleansing.” And we get Rambo. Not Rambo 4 or First Blood part whatever, just Rambo. All continuity thrown out the window. And basically they put Rambo in an elite killing group, throw him behind a Gatling gun and say, “have at it.” Yea, it’s bloody and the body count is higher than Stallone’s cholesterol, but its just not the same.
Basically, it comes down to the time and thus quality between films. Five or six year gaps are one thing, but to re-instate a franchise (that had a great run by all accounts) 12, 15, or even 19 years after its wrap up, and making it sub par at best is an abomination. Stop it!
Whats next? Godfather 4? Back to the Future 4? It has to end. Please stop killing off our beloved trilogies with mindless retools and unwarranted sequels. It hurts the head.