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Volume 77, Number 8 | July 25 - 31, 2007

Koch On Film

By Ed Koch

“Live Free or Die Hard” (-)
From the moment the screen lights up until over two hours later when the screen goes black, there is unending action, violence, shooting, deaths, car chases, an elevator falling and roads buckling worse than any seen in any earthquake. There is so much action that it becomes ridiculous and even boring. The one thing that does not occur throughout the film is anything approaching acting.

The plot involves John McClane (Bruce Willis), a New York City detective caught up in apprehending a group of terrorists led by Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) who were originally patriots but now are bent on destroying the United States because the government ignored Gabriel’s advice about flaws in the country’s security system, so he is now involved in hacking into all of the country’s secret operations. Frankly, I don’t think there was even a chance of saving this picture from total self-destruction and distain by anyone with a modicum of common sense. The clear central idea and purpose was to have this flick go over the top. It did, and it came out ridiculous. Bruce Willis’ mortal enemy, the wunderkind Gabriel, whom I’ve never seen before, is so lacking in gravitas that it is impossible to think of him as bringing the country to its knees. Willis’ screen daughter, Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), an independent woman who both hates and loves her dad, is also someone I have never seen or noticed before. I wish her better roles in the future.

All in all, for me this was a wasted evening and I promised myself that I’ll never go to another Bruce Willis “Die Hard” movie. He is getting old and should look for another role. Only Arnold Schwarzenegger, now governor of California, can go on forever. He’s earned my respect, not only as an actor, but as a public officeholder, at the top of his form.

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (-)
I have not read any of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, and I have only seen one other Potter movie. This fifth film in the series received rave reviews, so I decided to see it.

From the first scene I knew I was in trouble. I had no idea what was happening or why. I gathered that Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) was leading a student revolt against the villain, Lord Voldermort (Ralph Fiennes). Harry teaches his friends how to fight the rogues with their magic wands and, of course, good conquers evil. The characters who appeared in the earlier films are back again in this movie, played by the same actors, although some of them, like Maggie Smith who plays Minerva McGonagall, have lesser roles.  One of the new characters is Dolores Umbridge who plays Imelda Staunton, the new head of the Hogwarts school who is evil and ultimately gets her just deserts.

The producers of this extraordinary money machine need no advice from me, but that won’t stop me from offering some. I would suggest that occasional narrations be provided to explain to those of us unfamiliar with the story what is taking place. Since it is too late to provide them for this film, I urge you to read the book before seeing this movie. Otherwise, you might be as disappointed with it as I was.

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