A Good Day to Die Hard: Review

 

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Twenty-five years after first hitting our screens, John McClane (Bruce Willis) returns with the fifth instalment of the Die Hard franchise.

Regarded by many as one of the best action films of all time, Die Hard (1988) is looked upon as containing the magical ingredients to make a memorable action film: an evil genius with a master plan, his team of gun-wielding henchmen and a hero to save the day, with plenty of explosions and stunts along the way.

As with many sequels, Die Hard 2: Die Harder (1990), Die Hard 3: Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995) and Die Hard 4.0: Live Free or Die Hard (2007) failed to live up to the standard of the original. Although Die Hard 2 itself was a good effort, the latter additions to the franchise have continually veered from what made Die Hard so popular. A Good Day to Die Hard has followed suit.

Written by Skip Woods (Hitman, The A-Team) and directed by John Moore (Max Payne) the film is let down by its lack of dialogue. Gone are the quirky, memorable one-liners that made the character that is John McClane. There are several attempts at humour, some of which work, but the repeated “I’m supposed to be on vacation” and its variations are noticeably overused and have little effect.

Obviously lacking is the development of the villain. There is no real explanation as to why Komarov (Sebastian Koch) is intent on taking uranium locked away in Chernobyl. It isn’t addressed, nor is his past in-depth. Compared with villain Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) in Die Hard, there is no real connection or understanding of his plan. The focus is instead on the father-son relationship of McClane and McClane Jr. (Jai Courtney).

There are several elements however that will please fans of the franchise. There is the obligatory fast paced car-chase through the streets of Moscow with a seemingly endless amount of vehicles being damaged, a kill count that is well into the triple figures and a final showdown at Chernobyl complete with a gun-firing helicopter.

A Good Day to Die Hard will no doubt be a hit at the box office with older fans hoping to rekindle the magic of the earlier films and with younger fans keen to see a Die Hard film on the big screen. There are currently no plans for a sixth instalment, so it is probably a good day to call it a day for John McClane.

 

Album Review – Beady Eye: Different Gear, Still Speeding.

LIAM Gallagher has done it again.

After Oasis split, it looked to all the world that the front-man’s career was buried alongside the dodo.

Few expected new band Beady Eye, basically Oasis without Noel, to have any success, but have they lost any of the panache that made Oasis so successful without their songwriter in chief?

If their first album is anything to go by, the answer is a resounding no.

That unmistakable Mancunian voice still bounds through the speakers as Liam loses none of his force but the new band’s sound is a bit of a throwback to his heroes of old. Think Oasis meets the Beatles. In fact the penultimate song, ‘The Beat Goes On’ could have come straight out of the Cavern, and Lennon wouldn’t have been ashamed of it either.

The band themselves target a place alongside their heroes in this album, as their songs promise that it’s the beginning of something special. “I’m gonna stand the test of time, like Beatles and Stones” proclaims Gallagher in his typically brash fashion.

This offering has all the wistful guitar riffs needed for a link to the 60s, with songs like ‘Kill for a Dream’ and ‘The Morning Son’ adding a new sensual dimension to the Oasis sound and showing a whole new side to Liam’s erstwhile harsh Mancunian tone. He even sends out a heart wrenching invite to out-in-the-cold brother Noel. “Life’s too short not to forgive… I’m here if you wanna call,” he sings pensively at the start of ‘Kill for a Dream.’

Not that they’ve gone all soft on us. The forceful guitar intros are still there and the band are arrogant as ever. A statement of intent, the opening track “Four Letter Word” kicks it off with a convincing riff and “Bring the Light” showcases that unique mix of potent guitar and extreme self-confidence perfectly.

Not to forget the best of the lot, “The Roller” which shows just what the band are capable of, and just why there’s life after Oasis.

It may be a different gear, but Liam and the boys are definitely still speeding.

Rating: 9/10 – A must buy for any Oasis fan or anyone looking for a link back to the sounds of the 60s.

Andy Warhol exhibition review by Clodagh Rice

Warhol gets more than “fifteen minutes of fame” in Belfast

Andy Warhol exhibition at the MAC

A collection of pop art pieces by the iconic Andy Warhol can now be seen in Northern Ireland for the first time.

It is particularly impressive for the new MAC gallery to be hosting his work given the gallery opened in Belfast less than one year ago. This exhibition is part of the ARTIST ROOMS collection, jointly owned by Tate and the National Galleries of Scotland.

More than 500 guests attended the launch of this collection including deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness and the Minister for Regional Development Danny Kennedy.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness with Anne McReynolds, Chief Executive and Len O'Hagan, Chairman of the MAC during the Warhol preview

First time visitors will notice the unusual structure and layout of the modern building which is currently housing Warhol’s work. Chairman Mao, Hamburger, Cow Wallpaper and Marilyn Monroe are among Warhol’s most recognisable pop art pieces in the exhibition.

The tall gallery is filled with some of colourful prints displayed in busy clutters of different sizes of frames. In contrast, the large gallery displays his later work in a stark setting – a large open, white space.

The visual work of Warhol is also displayed in a room with his ‘silver floatations’ which consists of metallic balloons shaped like pillows that float in the air due to the presence of an electric fan. Clips of his most famous films can also be seen in the basement gallery.

A programme of Warhol-inspired events has also been created as part of the Warhol season including a Studio 54 club themed night. The full programme can be found here.

As one of the artists who had the greatest influence on popular culture, Andy Warhol’s pieces appeal to people of all ages. The significance of his collection being in Belfast will promote Northern Ireland as a cultural tourist destination, coupled with the City of Culture being held in Londonderry this year. Entry is free to visitors and the event will run throughout all three galleries until 28th April. For more information check out the gallery’s website: http://themaclive.com