Thursday, 24 December 2009

(500) Films of Empire - Day 100

Wow day 100 already. Time flies when you are watching hundreds of movies! And its Christmas Eve so time to crack ou the festive films on the list...

309 - Gremlins - 3 stars
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for the Gremlins making a mess in your kitchen!
Joe Dante, Chris Colombus and Steven Spielberg put a vicious twist on It's Wonderful Life. If you thought George Bailey's trouble were bad, they have nothing on Phoebe Cate's reason for hating Christmas.
Yet the whole town is in trouble after Billy Peltzer fails to obey the rules of looking after Gizmo the mogwai and unleashes a swarm of vicious green monsters on their quiet town.
While most of the violence is slightly comic book and over the top, there is a real mean streak running through the film.
It is nice to look back on a film like this and see that all the gremlins, etc were done using practical effects and puppetry, something sorely lacking in today's filmmaking.
The Wonderful Life references are plentiful; The town of Kingston Falls is based on Bedford Falls, the evil Mrs Deagle is the female version of Mr Potter, the film is even on the Peltzer's TV at one point.
And if Kingston Falls looks rather familiar that is because it was filmed on the same studio backlot as Back To The Future!
So just remember the true meaning of Christmas: keep them out of the light, don't get them wet nd don't feed them after midnight!

29 - Die Hard - 5 stars
The greatest action film ever made? I think so. Do you?
Best Christmas film? Well, its set on Christmas Eve so therefore it qualifies.
During the eighties, action movies were made for big guys like Arnold and Stallone. Die Hard was one of the first to have the hero be more of an everyman type of character, and made Bruce Willis one of the biggest stars in the world.
It also led to a series of imitators; Under Siege - Die Hard on a boat, Passenger 57 - Die Hard on a plane, etc, etc.
I love everything about this film. From a bizarre reason for John McClane to not be wearing any shoes, Agent Johnson & Agent Johnson (no relation), "Now I have a machine gun, ho-ho-ho", the fire hose escape, the vault opening to Ode To Joy, everything.
But the real reason why this film is better than the rest is simply down to Alan Rickman. Hans Gruber has to be one of the best bad guys of all time, and paved the way for all villains in Hollywood films being played by British actors.
When dealing with Takagi he effortlessly switches from charming, "When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no worlds left to conquer. Benefits of a classical education", to ruthless "I will count to three there will not be a four". He is the perfect foil for McClane's wisecracking cop.
Its a role that he took to the next level as Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Yippee-Kay-Aye Mother F*cker

Days remaining - 265 Films remaining - 357

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