Posted by: playingthedevil | July 31, 2011

die hard: year one, vol. 1 – die hard-ish 12

here we are at the official ending of die hard-ish month. i had a few ideas to wrap up the theme.

one was to review all four die hard movies, another was to write about bruce movies that i haven’t seen before (16 blocks and hostage), one was to include die hard-ish products like video games and other medium. but i only got around to seeing 16 blocks but not hostage, and the two die hard videogames (die hard trilogy 2: viva las vegas and die hard: vendetta) turn out to be pretty sucky (i even hook the ps1 back up).

with the clock ticking, time is of the essence, and the one thing i don’t have, i have to settle for a post on die hard: year one, vol. 1, a prequel in picture book form about john mcclane. there are several other die hard-ish movies that i wish i have the time for[1].

so this is kind of an anti-climatic ending, like die hard 3: with a vengeance. if it feels rushed and not quite satisfying, just muse over that tylenol bottle in the phone booth and jeremy irons in a helicopter.

die hard: year one, vol. 1: the graphic novel picture book contains the first four issues of the die hard: year one comic books, with the second volume holding issues 4-8. the publicity uses the batman and the bond casino royale as comparison. probably so you won’t think about other origin stories and prequels like x-men origin: wolverine, hannibal rising, or star wars episode i, ii, or iii. it also feels less forced because unlike all the above, it was not made because the franchise is running out of steam or someone trying to milk more money out of a dead horse (yes that’s my new 2-in-1 metaphor). it not a die hard-ish product where someone is simply capitalizing on the die hard scenario but rather it feels more like a genuine exploration of john mcclane as a character. die hard: year one came out in 2010, after the last die hard movie, live free or die hard, which is the highest grossing entry in the die hard franchise.

die hard: year one, vol. 1 takes place during the 4th of july in 1976, the bicentennial celebration, in new york. john mcclane is a rookie cop back from vietnam. so i guess he’s an analog hero in an analog world. the first few chapters we get snapshots of various characters throughout the city. it’s a device that’s been used in many die hard-ish and action movies. in fact, we don’t really get that much john mcclane in the first half. it is more like an ensemble that happens to have mcclane in it. it’s also kind of like those 70s cop-in-a-big-city type movie that probably would have been directed by the likes of sidney lumet or john frankenheimer.

though i was a bit worried about that introduction, the supporting characters turns out to be as interesting and important as mcclane, which doesn’t happen very often in die hard-ish movies. mcclane eventually works as security on a ship that’s owned by a wealthy businessman during the celebration. of course the bad guys show up and take over the ship and their plan would have worked too if it wasn’t for mcclane meddling. and that’s before the apes take over [2].

this is probably the second teenage picture book i’ve ever read in my life and i have to say, it’s a pretty enjoyable experience. the color schemes and drawing is in tune with the 70s new york time period. i like the fact that not every single shot of mcclane looks like bruce willis, which people complain about. bruce’s likeness appears just enough times that he feels like a new character instead of a total tie-in to the movies. plot wise, it’s interesting to see mcclane doing routine police work like busting pickpockets and flashers. he also gets love interests, which we never really get in the die hard movies. i also like the hard boiled noir-ish narrations and attitudes. and in the final pages, there’s a little bittersweet ending that we feel for mcclane as a character, rather than a relived triumphant movie ending that only cares about the resolution of the die hard situation.

i do think that the 24-ish time stamps on every other page is unnecessary. the only other criticism i have is that maybe i’m too used to the film medium, but in the last chapter when the die hard situation finally appears, the panels seem to skip over what had happened. for (action) movie fans who want to see everything that happens, it seems to work against the die hard scenario. it’s a fault that’s common in most current post action/avid fart/quick editing/too close zoom dtv action movies.

it’s not a bad way to spend an hour or so, especially for die hard fans. i haven’t been able to get ahold of die hard: year one, vol. 2 yet. it’s decent enough until die hard 5 come out. though i’m sure the inevitable eventual movie adaptation (sans bruce willis) will suck.

1. instead of doing a whole month of video game based movies because of penny arcade expo, in august we’ll instead do a mixture of video game movies and die hard-ish movies that we didn’t get to during die hard-ish month.

2. no, the apes don’t take over anything in the book. in fact, there are no apes.





die hard: year one, vol. 1
the pitch: die hard on a ship, in the 70s.
bruno, the mcclane surrogate: um, john mcclane in picture book form. he only looks like bruce willis at times. he has a full head of hair, which until now has only been seen in bad bruce movies, except maybe surrogate.
the gruber factor: there’s not really a single lead villain, the villains group has numerous members who are just as important as characters as john mcclane. i guess the hippie bicycle-riding environmentalist is more or less the leader but he’s nowhere as memorable as any of the die hard movies villains.
the hans objective: eventually money, under the guise of saving the environment.
wrong place at the wrong time: mcclane is supposed to act as security on the ship, and he didn’t show up late. so i guess he’s actually at the right place at the right time.
the help: none.
the family element: not really there. the girl mcclane finds attractive is a witness to some crooked cops murder and she becomes hostage on the ship. but this is 1976, so mcclane is a single man.
bonfire of the weaponry: fist, pistols, two guns, dynamite, one liners.
last man standing: there are some punches thrown and shots fired but it’s a pretty brief one on one. the bad guy actually lives and is arrested instead of killed, which i don’t think happened in any of the die hard movies.
unbearables: the story takes place during the 4th of july, which is the release date of die hard 2: die harder. all the die hard movies were released in the summer season. two of them take place during summer. mcclane is in new york as in die hard with a vengeance. the bruce-amongst-crooked-cops reminds me of striking distance and 16 blocks. also like 16 blocks, he protects someone who witnessed crooked cops killing. though it eventually takes place on a ship, it doesn’t really look like under seige since the ship is different and it’s in picture book form. interestingly, they considered making die hard 3 as die hard on a ship. i love that they make the point of killing the chef on the ship, since seagal plays the chef in the die hard-ish under siege. mcclane and the bad guys communicate through walkie talkies at one point, as in most die hard movies. the villains motive starts out as a political statement but turns out to be about money. as in die hard 1 and 3. mcclane retains his grim views, sense of humor and one liners. the noir-ish narration reminds me of sin city. there are authority and class issues that are more apparent here than any of the die hard movies. mcclane doing all the works unnoticed for a wealthy, famous man kind of reminds me of the last boy scout.

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