Movie sequels are strange beasts (and trust me, I know strange beasts)! For Valentine’s Day, I treated myself to a Die Hard marathon at the AMC Northpark. It started at noon and I watched all of the Die Hard movies, including the new one, in order, one after another. It was 12 hours of awesome. What was really intriguing about it was how it changed my opinions of the sequels. I won’t bore you with a full review or anything (If you are interested: Die Hard 1 – 9.5 Die Hard 2 – 9 Die Hard 3 – 9 Die Hard 4 – 7 Die Hard 5 – 6) but if you’ve got a little time this weekend, pick your favorite movie series (Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, whatever….) and before you watch them, write down a little bit about what you think of each one. Then watch a couple of them in a row. Now look at what you wrote down. Still feel that way?
But who cares, right? “Give us movie reviews,” you say! Well, friends, I have two good ones for you this time. One old and one new. Let’s go in chronological order.
Where Eagles Dare (1968) – [Rated PG]
Shot on location at a castle in Austria, Where Eagles Dare is a World War II, “tough guys on a mission, action movie. It heavily influenced Inglourious Basterds and is probably one of those movies your dad likes to watch when it comes on A&E. So why am I watching it? Because it is really good.
The plot follows a group of British soldiers led by Richard Burton who team up with Clint Eastwood on a mission to save an American general who has fallen into the hands of the Nazis. While this doesn’t sound like anything special, I can assure you, how it plays out is quite special indeed. The pacing may be a bit slower than you are used to but it is deliberate. The director, Brian Hutton, (who gave up directing to become a plumber, by the way) really does a great job creating a true roller coaster of a movie. The first half of Where Eagles Dare is spent climbing the hill. He shows you how the men find the castle, how they integrate into the town, how they get into the castle …. At the same time, he shows you bits and pieces of how they will escape once they’ve managed to reach the general, just like you would see the drops and turns you are about to experience as you head up the hill of a roller coaster.
Of course, not everything goes according to plan. Once they reach the top, both of the coaster hill and the mountain where the castle is perched, the plot starts to hurtle toward bends and twists. I promise, I won’t give anything away, but it is a great ride. And did I mention that Dirty Harry himself is sneering and shooting his way through the whole thing? Some of you may be saying, “Collin, war movies aren’t my thing.” I understand. They aren’t my thing either. I’m not saying this is a date movie, but I do think it can be enjoyed by almost anybody. At least give the trailer a shot.
While you are watching it, keep in mind, these actors are really out there slogging through the snow. There is a whole set of crew members who have somehow carried equipment up the side of a mountain in snow to get a 30 second shot only to tear it down and carry everything back later that day. The disc I got from Netflix had a great “making-of” documentary on it and it was almost as good as the movie itself.
8 Paws out of 10
Hodejegerne (2011) – [Rated R]
The title, Hodejegerne, is Norwegian for “Headhunters” (which is coincidentally the English title of the movie, how you’ll find it in Netflix and how I am going to refer to the movie for the rest of the review so I don’t have to type Hodejegerne anymore). On it’s surface, Headhunters is a simple caper movie. Roger Brown (played by Aksel Hennie who was great in Max Manus: Man Of War as well, by the way) is a corporate recruiter who has gotten himself in over his head with debt trying to maintain a lifestyle for himself and his wife. Obviously, his salary doesn’t cut it alone, so he is an art thief on the side. As luck would have it, his wife just opened an art gallery and ran into a man who has a rare Reubens painting at his house worth millions. Aha! Sound like a standard caper movie so far?
Now the movie takes a twist. I’ve read folks call it “Bournesque” and I’ve heard folks call it a dark comedy about “the worst day ever.” I suppose I see shades of both of those. Headhunters is a wild, dark, funny, violent ride that reminds us that our actions have consequences. It’s also just plain entertaining.
Now, I should warn you. There are a few disturbing things in the movie. First, there is the dog. There is a scene where a dog is killed, on screen. They didn’t really kill the dog. It’s a movie. But I can’t tell you how many reviews I have read where people dismiss the entire movie because of that scene so I just want to get it out there so you can go into it with a clear head. Then, there’s the outhouse scene. It’s gross, I agree. Different cultures have different values and tolerances. It comes with the territory.
There, now that we’ve put those things out there, I have to tell you, I really recommend giving this a shot. It may not be some genre-defining classic, but it is more than worth your time and effort to check it out.
7.5 Paws out of 10