I don’t get Len Wiseman. Sure, he’s a big, dumb action director who got his start in the art department on Michael Bay/Jerry Bruckheimer kaboom-fests, but he’s not totally incompetent behind the camera. Some of the good things about action filmmaking rubbed off on him, but so did a lot of the bad things. Unlike the triple 20 negatives last week (which no one in their right mind could possibly argue with), this Dartboard will be more based on what may be, rather than what is. Of course, scores can change at any moment, and darts is not a game for drunken amateurs (well, it is, but that’s beside the point).
Len Wiseman, you may have potential. You may be the worst thing to happen to action cinema since Jackie Chan decided to exclusively make films with Chris Tucker. Either way, until you make me eat my words, please step into the spotlight and take your place in front of the Den of Geek Dartboard.
Mind the blood on the floor; it’s from the last fellow. One would hope Leigh Whannell appreciates the irony of his bloody evisceration, but he’s probably too dumb to understand what ‘evisceration’ means. Come to think of it, you may be too dumb as well, Len, but I’ll be nice and cut you a bit of slack.
Dart One: (60 points)Okay, we get it. You like seeing your wife in latex cat suits. Maybe you can buy her one to wear about the house, so we don’t have to see her in yet another Underworld sequel. You took a concept that should be fairly idiot-resistant (vampires fighting werewolves in big action sequences) and completely ruined it beyond all comprehension. The mythology of the Underworld universe was hopelessly confused, the acting was miserable at best, and the action scenes sent me into a narcoleptic coma rather than the desired paroxysms of explode-gasms. The film was entirely too dark to be properly seen, too polished to have any level of grit and texture, too brainless even as action movies go, and went on to spawn what is one of the worst sequels ever, Underworld 2. And this is coming from someone who has seen Speed 2: Cruise Control.
The only thing notable about the second return to the Under-verse is the fact that Underworld 2 features the second most uncomfortable sex scene in movie history, surpassed only by the copulation of pasty Keanu Reeves and skeletal antique Carrie-Anne Moss in The Matrix Reloaded. It manages to be even more boring and insipid than the first film, but that’s to be expected. What was unexpected were Kate Beckinsale’s lousy breast implants and the uncomfortable grinding session between Kate and Scott Speedman. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go be sick.
Dart Two: (80 Points)When I saw who was helming Live Free or Die Hard (AKA Die Hard 4.0), any excitement about seeing John McClane return wilted like Emil Antonowsky after a toxic waste bath. Surely, it was going to the suckiest suck that ever sucked! Len Wiseman and the obnoxious Apple guy (Justin Long) in the same space at the same time bodes ill for everyone. Not even Bruce Willis could preserve the Die Hard legacy.
Or so I thought.
As it turns out, aside from a few moments that keep the dart from totally missing the board (most of which involve a jet fighter and probably aren’t Wiseman’s fault since he didn’t write the script), Live Free or Die Hard was the best human-centric action film of the summer. Touché, Mr. Wiseman. Die Hard 4.0 was witty, fun, well-paced, and very successful at upholding the John McClane tradition of excellence and quips. Hell, I looked at Justin Long for an hour and a half and didn’t stab myself once; that’s a memorable achievement even before you factor in how good the film was!
Dart Three: (140 points, most likely)Then you screwed up, good sir. All that good will I had towards you? My willingness to give you slack for flogging the Underworld franchise to death with two unnecessary sequels? It’s all gone. And what, pray tell, did you squander your capital on?
You’ve decided to join in the plundering of John Carpenter’s catalogue and remake Escape from New York. John Carpenter is one of the greatest cult-movie directors in history, and you, with your three directing credits, is going to remake one of his most loved films that just so happens to star one of the great, iconic characters in movie history. If it wasn’t one of my favorite films, I’d be impressed with your testicular fortitude.
There is no way in hell you can ever possibly improve on Carpenter’s original film. The best anyone can do remaking a classic movie is to be as good as the predecessor, and given your history that’ll never happen. Sure, you didn’t screw up the Die Hard franchise, but that’s because it was obvious you’re a life-long fan of Bruce Willis’ iconic New York detective and slaved to get things right because you knew this would be McClane’s legacy. I can’t presume to know your feelings on Snake Plissken, but I can tell you that there are legions of Carpenter fans who will be waiting outside your mansion with William Shatner masks and butcher knives should you screw this up.
You’ve been warned.