Monday, February 18, 2013

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD - what the what?

Good grief, what a hideous mess this was. Where do I even begin? Like Indiana Jones part 4, or any number of other action reboots as of late, Die Hard part 5 is not even worth watching.

The Die Hard franchise is easy for me to decipher. The quality steadily decreases with each subsequent film—this complies to a relatively high objective accuracy. What do I mean by objective? I mean that irrespective of your 'opinion'—a statement or claim is true or as true as we can use anthropocentric logic etc to epistemologically know. If you happen to believe there is a Santa Clause, thats all well and good but I can offer numerous empirical observations in evidence against the belief which in turn gives a much higher objective probability to my belief—that is—there is no Santa, sorry. If Die Hard part 1 is a 10 out of 10 in the action movie genre (I would argue it nearly is) then Die Hard part 5 is most surely a 1 on a sliding scale. I'm sure if a 1000 people were asked to give their favorites in order you would get a nice bell curve confirming my prediction. 

You may not care about the ratings of anything aesthetic along the gamut from paintings to wine, and yes many times these evaluative systems have flaws with huge margins of error, but given the proper statistical analysis and using the law of large numbers in addition to the central limit theorem you have a decent reason to put heed in such scales. Thus, I think it possible to judge aesthetics objectively using proven mathematical methods. Many find this absurd and wish to say that it just my opinion vs yours. I happen to find this brand of relativism preposterous yet it's so prevalent in our American culture. Do you really think that someone who has 30 years of devotion, experience and passion (super important) evaluating paintings equivalent to the opinion of a 20 year old that thinks Picasso is garbage? What is the probability that the so called 'expert' contains the more accurate 'right' answer? The objectivity will raise significantly the greater the number of experienced people who offer their 'opinion'. This data could be used to come to a pretty actuate conclusion.

I think it's vital to realize a couple of things. If you wish to compare objects of artistic value, many factors should be considered. So for instance, say you wanted to compare who is the greater painter of Post Expressionism, Monet or Manet. This would be a good comparison but a bad question. It's a good comparison because both painters were French, dabbing in similar styles during a relatively short time (these are just a few factors that could be considered). It's a bad question, I think, because like any question of this nature it will not adhere to reality and would surely reach a nonsensical verdict. Manet is not necessarily better than Monet or vice versa. But you could make a sliding scale, that has all those painters of a period, tell you probabilistically who could be considered the 'greatest' painters and who were the 'worst' or the least seminal. But to say Monet is the greatest is absurd. Likewise to compare Warhol to Monet would be somewhat absurd, unless the right type of questions were addressed. Like, who had more influence or who was more prolific or who was the 'better' craftsman. All these questions, though, would need much deliberation and qualitative as well as quantitative assessment. We all wish to debate whose greater but we must begin to realize that this type of thinking never really yields much of anything but animosity. I therefore think that it's possible to have an objective opinion to some degree over that of 50%.

To extrapolate these ideas to film, now take this scenario. If 1000 film experts got in a room, a very large room that is, they will disagree about many many things. One thing almost all of them will agree on is what films have been the 'most' influential over time. These periodically get turned into "best lists" or the "greatest films of all time lists" like Sight and Sound polls and what have you. Maybe it's misleading to take "most influential" and morph it into "best". This surely is the cause of many stupid arguments. However, what I would wish to get across is this. If someone with a lot of experience in a field has an 'opinion' or even a proclamation, that person's opinion should be held in higher estimation of the 'truth'. Not everyone's opinion is of equal value and should thus be critiqued by virtue of what they wish to say—not always by credentials. If someone of any age claims A Clockwork Orange is stupid or horrible or wishes to promulgate any other vacuous comment, I can safely disregard their opinion as objectively false. I can really only prove this here using heuristic probability but If I were to do a proper study I would bet my life that I would be 'right'. 

I write all this to illustrate that ratings and lists can be very useful and important as long as you can view the sources and understand how the numbers came into being. I hope you can see then why giving a movie like Dead Alive a 9.5 and Citizen Kane a 9.5 is ok as long as your not comparing the two against each other but within their respective genres. Enough already. I realize my thoughts above are not fully fleshed out or comprehensive but hopefully I get my point across to some extent. 

Back to Die Hard. Everything in this particular movie sucked—the script, the acting, the direction, the editing, the camerawork and even the makeup! Maybe it was everyone's first movie. Except for Bruce that is. He could not even hope to save this one. During one scene Bruce walks into a room and is shocked that his son is a spy then 10 minutes later asks him why he hasn't heard any contact from Langley in a while. There are numerous glaring inconsistencies of this kind. I don't even want to think or write about them all but I'm sure their will be a YouTube video depicting the myriad errors. 

Die Hard is a great movie. No question. This movie is inimical to to your pleasure senses and will leave you feeling dull and dumb. Please, studio gods, don't make anymore of these unless you can get a mass of talent behind it. Please!  

Recommended Viewing: Die Hard - Die Hard II - Hart's War - The Fifth Element

              Bob Scale: The Critic: 1.5   -   The Fan: 1.0
             MetaCritic: 29
 Rotten Tomatoes: 16
                    IMDB: 6.0

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