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Now Playing 2: Now Playing Harder

By: Jeff Ford
By: Jeff Ford

Previewing the Good, Bad and Ugly of A Good Day to Die Hard, Beautiful Creatures, Safe Haven, Escape from Planet Earth and Amour

 It’s Valentine’s Week, the holiday that allows one to show their loved ones how special they are.  If one should opt for the dinner and a movie route, there is a wide variety from which to choose.   For the guy, though, there is only one correct option.

 

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD

 

John McClane travels to Russia to help out his seemingly wayward son, Jack, only to discover that Jack is a CIA operative working to prevent a nuclear-weapons heist, causing the father and son to team up against underworld forces. *

 

The Good – Bruce Willis returns in the role that defined his career (not to say Moonlighting didn’t help, but he is more remembered for Die Hard).  He also represents the latest aging action hero to attempt to make it in this decade.  After Sly and Arnold crashed and burned on their latest efforts, one has to question if Bruce Willis can survive in this day of bland action films.  John McClane is an icon, the everyman forced into the role of hero by circumstances.  The original Die Hard is a classic action film and set the standards for all subsequent films in its genre.  Can Bruce Willis reclaim his position on top of the older action heroes?

 

The Bad – While I liked the last Die Hard film, Live Free or Die Hard, I will readily admit that it is NOT a Die Hard movie.  The action was too over the top and McClane lost his everyman status to become an almost invincible superhero.  The film itself was neutered down to a teenage friendly PG-13 and ended up losing its edge.  Now this new film is rated R but from the previews, it looks to be more like Live Free than Die Hard.  It’s a direction the previous film should not have taken, in my opinion.  Maybe this new one will right the wrongs of the last.

 

The Ugly – Little known fact.  The original Die Hard was actually conceived as a sequel to the awesome 1985 Schwarzenegger masterpiece, Commando.  When Arnold turned it down, it was reframed to the film we know today.  So in honor of that, “Let off some steam, Gruber.”

 

A Good Day to Die Hard is rated R for violence and language.

 

For the Twilight fan, there’s…

BEAUTIFUL CREATURES

 

Ethan longs to escape his small Southern town. He meets a mysterious new girl, Lena. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town. *

 

The Good – It’s Twilight with witches that stars Jeremy Irons (Die Hard with a Vengeance) and Emma Thompson (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). 

 

The Bad – It’s still Twilight with witches.  Take that for what it’s worth.

 

The Ugly – Every time I see this title, I immediately break out singing the Marilyn Manson song, “Beautiful People”, replacing People with Creatures.  I hate that song.

 

Beautiful Creatures is rated PG-13 for violence, scary images and some sexual material.

 

What Valentine’s Day weekend would be complete without a Nicholas Sparks film…

 

SAFE HAVEN

 

A young woman with a mysterious past lands in Southport, North Carolina where her bond with a widower forces her to confront the dark secret that haunts her. *

 

The Good – Julianne Hough is cute and there’s always the smoking Cobie Smulders from How I Met Your Mother and Avengers fame.  That’s about it for me.

 

The Bad – I’m not the audience for this.  To me it looks like a retread of every other Nicholas Sparks movie, with little variation from the last.  As previous box office shows, this kind of film does bring in a crowd and it is choosing the proper release date.  At least it doesn’t star Channing Tatum. 

 

The Ugly – After watching the trailer, I never thought I would be missing Fleetwood Mac.  I guess I’ll keep going my own way.

 

Safe Haven is rated PG-13 for thematic material involving threatening behavior, and for violence and sexuality.

 

For those whose babysitter ditched them this weekend…

 

ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH

 

Astronaut Scorch Supernova finds himself caught in a trap when he responds to an SOS from a notoriously dangerous alien planet. *

 

The Good – Kids may love it.

 

The Bad – My guess is not many others would.  The trailer makes it to be extremely wacky and crazy.  To me, it comes off as a desperate attempt to retain attention.  It just does not look good.

 

The Ugly – Perhaps the only one who can help the aliens Escape from Planet Earth is Snake Plissken.  After all, he was the only one to successfully Escape from New York, Cleveland and LA. 

 

Escape from Planet Earth is rated PG for action and some mild rude humor.

 

And for those looking to complete their Best Picture viewings…

 

AMOUR

 

Georges and Anne are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack. The couple's bond of love is severely tested. *

 

The Good – Finally, the last of the Best Picture nominees comes to Lexington and shortly before the Academy Awards to boot, where this French-language film is nominated for 5 Oscars: Best Foreign Language Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Picture.  Emmanuelle Riva is the stand out performer, being the oldest person to ever be nominated for Best Actress.  She portrays a woman who has suffered a stroke that paralyzes one side of her body.  Emmanuelle has earned rave reviews for her performance in an all-around great reviewed movie.  It currently sits at 93% out of 150 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, which is tied for second of this year’s crop of Best Picture nominees (it’s tied with Zero Dark Thirty and comes 3 percentage points below Argo).

 

The Bad – This film is in French with subtitles, which will drive away the less willing participants.  I can’t fault someone for not wanting to go see a subtitled film but they would probably be missing out on a fantastic movie.  One cannot be afraid to read in a theater.

 

The Ugly – Once again, I must blast the limited theater release arrangement that certain films follow.  This film should have been opened wide immediately after the announcements to best capitalize on potential market share.  Now it is banished in between the times of the nominations and the ceremonies, in kind of a no man’s land.  You lose the immediacy of the surprise nomination and you are too far away from the ceremonies that the film may be gone from theaters by the time the Oscar telecast begins.

 

Amour is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material including a disturbing act, and for brief language.

 

That will do for this week.  Tune in next time when the Rock looks to the skies.  Until then, yippee ki yay, Mister Falcon.

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