G’day, mates! Welcome to my 4th edition of My Fortnightly Movie/TV Thoughts. Last fortnight I reviewed Skyfall (2012). This week I’m reviewing:
- Die Hard (1988), rated M for medium level violence, medium level coarse language
- Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), rated M for moderate violence
Those are the Australian ratings; the American ones are:
- Die Hard – R
- Temple of Doom – PG
As usual, at the end will be the trailers and a clip from each. And of course, the usual disclaimer applies:
WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD. PROCEED AT OWN RISK.
The breakout role for both Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman is a truly thrilling action ride. On Christmas Eve, New York cop John McClane (Willis) arrives in Los Angeles to see his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) and their two kids. Holly is a rising executive at Nakatomi Corporation, and is at the Nakatomi Building for a Christmas party.
Unfortunately for him, a group of European terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Rickman) have picked this night to pull off the mother of heists… at the Nakatomi Building. The terrorists quickly take out security and take over the building, holding all of the roughly 30 people inside hostage.
Except for McClane, who manages to evade capture in the initial takeover, without the terrorists realising he was there. (Hey, no-one said it had to be believable!) After witnessing Gruber and his men murdering CEO Joseph Takagi (James Shigeta), and initially failing to get the cops to believe him (although they soon find out for themselves something’s up at Nakatomi), McClane finds himself forced into a one-man war against the terrorists. And we all know Bruce Willis never loses!
This film is pure action, pure thrill, pure suspense, and pure fun. And not mindless fun, either. It’s brilliantly – not to mention perfectly – constructed on every level, working great as both an action film AND a story. It thoroughly grabs your attention and holds it until the credits roll. Nothing boring or shoddy here!
And then there’s the acting. Considering that this is Bruce Willis’ first action role – and the start of his action movie career – he has no problems getting into the role. Unlike many larger-than-life action heroes, McClane is just an ordinary guy with domestic problems (of which he is not entirely innocent), who just happens to be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and faced with the choice of acting or dying. (Not to mention his bloody makeup is quite realistic and well-done; and his language is even more realistic.)
And then there’s Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber, who is simply the greatest action movie villain of all time – no dispute, period. The following article provides a great description about what makes Hans Gruber (and Die Hard) so great:
Bonnie Bedelia (picked by Willis) does a good job as McClane’s beautiful but headstrong estranged wife.
The entire movie excites – not to mention entertains – from start to finish. The thrill and tension of this movie are incredible – and the near-death scrapes so harrowing (in a fun way!). This is unequivocally the greatest Christmas movie of all time, and one of the greatest action movies (correction: THE greatest action movie) of all time, and overall one of the greatest movies ever – period.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
I know, I know, I’ve already reviewed this film! But I rewatched it last week (ALL of it, as opposed to the first half – and clips from the second half – that I saw the first time), and wish to slightly alter me previously expressed opinion (the original review will be left up for comparison).
I’ll only give a brief summary of the plot, as I’ve already explained it in detail in my original review:
Indy and his young buddy Short Round and new acquaintance Willie Scott narrowly escape a Chinese crime kingpin in Shanghai, but unintentionally escape in a plane he owns, and are forced to crashland over India. There they discover a dying village whose children – and sacred Sankara stone – have been stolen by a resurgent Thuggee cult operating out of Pankot Palace. While spending the night at Pankot, they discover an underground Thuggee temple where humans are horribly sacrificed to Kali, and where the children are enslaved in the mines searching for the remaining Sankara stones, which the Thuggee believe will give them the power to take over the world. The trio are captured. Will they escape?
Yes, it’s still the darkest and most violent of the Jones movies (I looked away at the heart-ripping scene), but it’s a ludicrously entertaining and thrilling and fun-to-watch action-adventure. To quote Rotten Tomatoes’ critics, “It may be too ‘dark’ for some, but Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom remains an ingenious adventure spectacle that showcases one of Hollywood’s finest filmmaking teams in vintage form.” I wholeheartedly agree!
Interestingly enough, this is the most original of the Raiders sequels. The others – awesome and unique as they are – follow the same formula as the original (which is a great formula, by the way; no criticism there from me). But Temple of Doom is the only one to break the pattern, constructing what RT rightly called “an ingenious adventure spectacle”.
By “thrilling”, I mean the very close near-death thrills of Die Hard. It’s thrills certainly don’t quite match those of Die Hard, but it’s still an exciting and worthy Indiana Jones adventure. Actually, I now like it best of the series! Roger Ebert was right: it is “not so much as sequel as an equal”, and I did “stagger out with a silly grin”. (Granted I didn’t stagger, but I was grinning from ear to ear by the time the film ended.)
I understand Temple of Doom isn’t a film for everyone (I hated it when I first watched it!), but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Die Hard trailer:
Temple of Doom trailer:
Die Hard clip:
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom clip: