Monday, January 22, 2018

Vaulting Ambition

With this week's episode of Star Trek: Discovery, I think we've at last come to the end of the plot twists which online fans had sussed out in advance. Now it's official: the Captain Lorca who has been so morally grey (at best) and so different from every other Star Trek captain we've seen before is really from the Mirror Universe.

Of course, the reason why some viewers have been ahead of the plot twists is that the series has been playing fair with them -- laying track that sets things up, taking their time in places, and generally abiding to a logic that earns the new developments. And just because you know the destination hasn't made the journey less fun. Gruesome and morbid fun, sometimes, but fun nonetheless -- such as the unknowing selection by Burnham of her Kelpian dinner, or Emperor Georgiou's violent mass execution by killer frisbee.

It wasn't all surface thrills, though. The revelation that the Mirror Universe Burnham was also adopted, but by the Emperor, set up for great interplay between the two women. Michelle Yeoh perfectly walked the line between hamming it up in a Mirror persona while expressing more real anger over her betrayal by her adopted daughter. Yeoh also played her scenes in a marvelously ambiguous way -- with some wishful thinking, you could imagine the Emperor might honor her agreement with Burnham; you can just as easily anticipate a double-cross in a coming episode.

The Voq/Tyler plot thread continued this week, with Saru prevailing on L'Rell to help resolve his situation. Her idea of "help" could mean a very different thing than what Saru is hoping for, though I'll say that the final moments of this story line in this episode sure felt to me like a good old-fashioned Klingon death yell. L'Rell seemed to be grieving the death of Voq... though even if that's true, it doesn't necessarily mean the death of who we've known as Ash Tyler. If they plan to keep him on the show next season, that certainly feels like the direction they'd take.

It's less clear how long Jason Isaacs' future on the show might be, though. The revelation that Lorca is from the Mirror Universe dredges up a long list of questions. Is Lorca (and Isaacs) meant to be one season and out? Is there any way the Prime Lorca is still alive somewhere? (Or did he die on the Buran? Or by Mirror Lorca's hand?) How did Mirror Lorca cross into the Prime Universe in the first place? Was his original security officer, Landry (who was mauled by tardigrade) from the Mirror Universe too? (She certainly seemed to fit the profile.) I'm looking forward to answers, and hope the writers cook up a way of delivering them that's worthy of the fun they've had with Lorca all season.

I wasn't quite as taken with the Stamets subplot this week. Mirror Stamets didn't seem nearly as manipulative or dishonest as he should have been -- I was expecting most of what he told Prime Stamets to be a lie, but by the end of the episode it seemed like just the opposite was the case. The plot also ended on a bit of a confusing note. Were we meant to assume by the editing that the two Stametses switched bodies when they awoke from their comas? Or was that just an unfortunately misleading ordering of scenes when they were just trying to say that "Mirror Stamets is awake now too, and he's going to be trouble?'" I guess we'll find out soon enough.

More than this, though, I wasn't nearly as moved by the reunion of Stamets and Culber as I'd have hoped. The scene tried to serve the masters of both plot and character, and didn't really excel at either. The weight of Culber's death felt brushed aside as they tried to make us care more about the mycelial network's sudden crisis, and bringing on Culber to dump that exposition rushed information the writers seemingly didn't have time (or a means) to convey in a more natural manner. The meeting ended on a note suggesting that this wasn't goodbye, I guess as a way of excusing how it didn't feel like a worthy goodbye. But I'm beginning to feel a bit strung along by how the writers have been treating this pair. I wish they'd never gone the route of killing Culber, but now that we're on it, I wish they'd just let us grieve the loss and move on.

Separating out that one element, though, I found it a pretty fun episode overall. I'd mark it a B+.

Friday, January 19, 2018

DS9 Flashback: The Storyteller

Going in to my re-watch of the Deep Space Nine episode "The Storyteller," I recalled it being one of the worst episodes of the season. (And the first season being the worst overall, that meant I remembered it being one of the worst episodes of the series.) But while indeed it wasn't what I'd call "good," my feelings about the episode were a bit more complicated this time around.

When a small Bajoran village asks for help, O'Brien pilots the runabout to take Bashir there (reluctantly, as he's not keen on spending time with the doctor). But the threat isn't what either man expects. The village spiritual elder, known as the Sirah, is in failing health. The villagers claim that if he dies, no one will be able to tell "the story" that keeps at bay the Dal'Rok, a monster that storms the village for five nights each year. Learning that the creature is in fact real is only their first surprise; the bigger one comes when, just before he dies, the Sirah names O'Brien as his successor. Meanwhile, aboard the station, Sisko hosts a summit between two feuding Bajoran factions. One of the leaders, a stubborn teenager, forges a friendship with Jake and Nog.

I think that much of what makes this episode look "bad" is how is how unenlightened and backwater it makes the Bajorans appear. Star Trek to this point had had only an occasional relationship with religion, and then only to denounce a religious planet-of-the-week as primitive and uncivilized. On this series, "Emissary" made clear that there was both a basis for Bajoran religion (the Prophets are in fact real entities) and benefits to it (it's a source of emotional strength that got the Bajorans through the occupation by the Cardassians). For religion to be an ongoing part of a Star Trek series, these positives would have to be there. This episode marks a regression. As personified by the Dal'Rok, Bajoran religion is still real and is still said to have a benefit, but now seems more dangerous than beneficial. (If you're village is going to be destroyed by something imaginary, it's time to reconsider.) I think this attitude is there because this core story idea came from a Next Generation pitch leftover from its season one that head writer Michael Piller happened to like.

The backwater depiction of the Bajorans infects the B-story too. Sisko must mediate a dispute between two Bajoran factions over what sounds like a rather small strip of land. In the original, pre-wormhole context of the Federation's plans for Bajor -- to groom the planet for Federation membership -- this kind of squabble makes the Bajorans seem too far from ready to ever have bothered. We're told of nothing significant about this land that would contextualize this as an Israeli/Palestinian or Jerusalem-is-holy-to-many-religions type of conflict. It's just a low stakes fight over "just some land." Weirder still is that one of the two factions is led by a young girl. So now, one more ingredient in the "Bajorans are unevolved" stew is that some of them at least have hereditary leaders, even when that means putting a kid in charge?

Now add to all of that the episode completely ignores its most intriguing aspect. We learn that the Dal'Rok was conjured by the villager's original Sirah (with help from a Bajoran Orb fragment) to unite the village around an outside adversary. If you stop to think about it, this is really some serious nationalist, xenophobic stuff. It's almost literally the "Two Minutes Hate" from 1984, gathering everybody together in one place to shout hatred at their common enemy. Maybe it's the times we're living in now, but I really want to see this episode dig into how you undo a hateful tradition like this. I find it shocking that the episode not only doesn't question it, it ends up perpetuating it in the end.

So now that I've sold this episode as thoroughly awful, how am I going to walk it back and tell you it's maybe not that bad? Well, for starters, what we see here of Bajoran society is so inconsistent with what came before (and what would come later), that it's clearly an aberration. That in and of itself is strange and wonderful for Star Trek, which routinely depicts all non-human cultures as monolithic. For Bajor to figure prominently in the life of the series, it also needs to be diverse, and for all its flaws, "The Storyteller" shows there is diversity in Bajoran culture -- a notion that would be almost immediately picked up on and presented far better at the beginning of season two.

Then there's the Jake and Nog aspect of the B-story. It's broad at times, but it continues in what Deep Space Nine has been doing well so far: letting kids be kids. Jake and Nog still figure into the plot, giving the young leader Varis Sul just the advice she needs to solve her problems, but they get into an adolescent rivalry along the way. There's a lot of great subtext in the story here. Nog really likes this girl, but is too uptight and awkward around her to connect. Jake isn't necessarily interested in her in that way, yet is so smooth around her that Nog gets jealous. So Nog comes up with a prank that in his teen-addled mind, will simultaneously impress the girl with its cleverness and take Jake down a peg by making him look foolish. This leads to the first appearance of Odo's bucket, in the actually-pretty-funny oatmeal gag.

But the best part about the episode, the reason not to excise it from Deep Space Nine canon even if you could, is because this where the friendship between Bashir and O'Brien begins. (It's also where the writers' fondness for torturing O'Brien began in its mildest form, an at-least-annual tradition that would yield some great episodes in the future.) The idea to pair Bashir and O'Brien as friends reportedly came from writer Ira Steven Behr, and couldn't have come at a better time. Bashir was the least developed character at this point, boorish by design, and creepy and misogynist by accident. Having O'Brien, the character we've known longest (since he was on Next Generation), warm to Bashir was a great first step in addressing the problems.

The turn happens without compromising anything of what we've seen about Bashir so far. He's still blissfully unmindful of social decorum, demanding his subordinate call him "Julian" and asking him point blank: "Do I annoy you?" (An impossible question to answer.) But then when O'Brien lands in hot water, Bashir does everything you'd expect a good friend to do: he finds great entertainment in O'Brien's struggles and laughs at his expense, while still being there to support and help when it matters and things get really serious.

Other observations:
  • Quark has only a small part in this episode, but it's a satisfying one for anyone who's been put off by his boorish behavior to this point: he gets a drink thrown in his face.
  • A few episodes back, I mentioned that Rene Auberjonois realized early on that Odo had a soft spot for children. You see that here, when Odo hassles Jake and Nog multiple times throughout the episode, and is clearly having fun doing it.
  • Let's face it, if you could throw a revival like the Sirah, complete with the demon cloud descending from the sky, lightning and wind whipping around, and magical "good feelings" lights saving the day, you'd have followers too. I think the costuming and staging of all this is quite deliberate in evoking serious "Moses in The Ten Commandments" vibes.
  • The Sirah checks Bashir first before declaring that O'Brien is his successor. The "common man" O'Brien is clearly the right character to build the story around. But what's the in-universe explanation for the Sirah shoving Bashir aside to pick O'Brien? Does he recognize that Julian is so un-humble that the villagers would never even temporarily embrace him? Or is he a batty old racist who wants the guy with lighter skin?
  • Cirroc Lofton hit a major growth spurt in the months just between the pilot episode and this one. And unfortunately, it doesn't look like the costume department did the best job tailoring Jake's outfits to keep up.
  • I don't know that it's really as funny as I find it to be, but I love how O'Brien begins his telling of the story: "Once upon a time, there was a Dal'Rok."
  • Some Deep Space Nine trivia: this is the first episode in which baseball player Buck Bokai is mentioned by name. (Though you can go all the way back to The Next Generation's "The Big Goodbye" for the first reference to him, "a shortstop for the London Kings.")
The plot of "The Storyteller" has plenty of flaws. Still, in how all the main characters are written and how they interact with one another, it feels quite authentic and interesting. So I feel like this episode just squeaks into B- territory.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Man Behind the Camera

Among directors with a huge body of work, there's probably no one whose movies I've seen more of than Steven Spielberg. (And I suspect that's probably true of many film enthusiasts of my generation.) Because of this, I both had to watch and was a bit hesitant to watch a new documentary about him, Spielberg.

The "had to watch" element is probably self explanatory. Spielberg directed some of the most beloved movies of multiple decades. Any chance at insights about what makes him tick would surely be interesting. Any tidbits about the making of a famous film in particular would be the kind of stuff movie fanatics live and breathe.

The "hesitant to watch" bit was the chance that there wouldn't be anything at all revelatory here. That, and the chance that the documentary would spend a couple hours just telling us what we all already know: that Steven Spielberg is a damn talented movie maker with countless great films to his name.

Spielberg (the film) existed a bit between those two possibilities, though ultimately (unfortunately) landing more on the latter. It talked a fair amount his family background and how he was raised, and while Steven Spielberg gave generous and candid interviews about it all, he really didn't reveal much that isn't readily apparent from his films (particularly the earlier ones). As you would guess, his relationship with his father was a defining one for him. As you'd also guess, the divorce of his parents cast a long shadow on his attitudes about family and love.

The documentary did have some interesting and surprising sections, though. Many of those came when the filmmakers tempered their understandable and deserved enthusiasm for the director to examine his less successful efforts. There's a section about the making of The Color Purple (which I myself have never seen), where Spielberg talks about how his desire to see that movie made may have blinded him to the reality that maybe he himself was not the best person to have made it. He talks about his decisions to scrub some of the original novel's more controversial elements from the film, and admits that he wished he could have been more daring.

Also interesting is to hear about how other people in the industry talk about the director. The documentary features pieces of interviews with a wide range of actors who have worked for him, and a number of directors whose careers blossomed around the same time. When they talk about what Steven Spielberg does and how he does it so well, the documentary makes great use of film clips to highlight exactly what they're talking about. As in any industry, it's interesting to hear how professionals talk about others in their field.

But, at the end of the day, this documentary isn't nearly as revealing or fascinating as I would have hoped for. It feels geared toward a more casual moviegoer, the sort who would recognize Spielberg by his ubiquity, but who doesn't usually like to glimpse behind the scenes. That's not me, nor do I suspect it's most of my readers. This is one you can probably skip. I'd give Spielberg a B-.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What's in a Name?

It's unfortunately not too rare a thing for a mostly good movie to have a weak ending. I feel like I've adjusted to that, and generally know how to process a move that stumbles at the finish line. (It generally works out like gymnastics scoring; you give a deduction for not sticking the landing, depending on how much it undermines what came before.) I'm having a much harder time sussing out my thoughts on a new movie that does the opposite, delivering 15 minutes of concentrated amazing right at the end, after a boring snooze of a story.

Call Me By Your Name is in the Oscar mix this year, said to be a likely Best Picture contender and certain to get a Best Actor nomination for its star Timothée Chalamet. Set in the Italian countryside in 1983, it's the story of Elio, the 17-year-old son of an archaeology professor. He's been brought to Italy for the summer as his father works, but he doesn't have much to do with his days but read and flirt. (Hard life.) When a graduate student named Oliver arrives to support his father's work, Elio is awash in confusing feelings. But over the next few weeks, things become much more clear -- he's utterly smitten with the man.

I think it's hard to know whether this is a movie that would be in the Oscar mix on its own merits were it not for the fact that Moonlight took home the Best Picture statue last year. It is nice that stories with LGBT protagonists can actually get noticed and appreciated now; I just wish this one weren't so relentlessly boring. Moonlight at least was narratively interesting in its three-act construction, and had a reasonable sense of stakes -- of risk -- because of the life its main character had built for himself.

Call Me By Your Name feels about as low stakes as you can get. Brought to Italy from America, Elio is quite free to explore whatever he wants in relative isolation; few consequences are likely to follow him home. His parents (particularly his father) are so consumed by their own day-to-day routines, it feels like he's free to do whatever he wants and they're never going to find out -- what they might think of his coming out to them (as gay or bisexual; the movie leaves some ambiguity on this) hardly seems like a concern either.

The movie's pace is as lacking as the stakes. I'd say it's a "slow burn" getting to the blossoming of the relationship between Elio and Oliver, but that would imply there was any sense of "burn" to it at all. The passion seems wholly absent for well over an hour, as the camera seems more in love with the scenery than in the prospective couple. To be fair, this movie makes Italy look gorgeous, but I don't think scenes need to linger on for 10-15 seconds extra just to pan over a vista.

Even once the relationship begins, there aren't many sparks in it for another long stretch -- partly due to the script and partly due to the casting of Armie Hammer as love interest Oliver. Hammer is charismatic, for sure, but he looks like he's in his 30s (though his character is meant to be in his early 20s); pairing him with Timothée Chalamet (who is in his early 20s, but looks like the 17 his character is supposed to be) makes for an uncomfortable age gap.

What passes for plot in this story is so thin that it has to be doubled up. The movie serves up two or even three scenes with exactly the same narrative purpose, again and again. It's as though the writer believes that this movie is being so subtle, so subtextual, that he thinks the repetition might be  needed just to make sure the audience gets it. He needn't have worried; we do. So little is going on that you're force to mine every tilt of a head for whatever meaning it might carry. It's work to stay engaged.

Put simply, the first hour and 55 minutes or so of this two hour and 10 minute movie are borderline terrible.

But then there's that last 15 minutes.

Call Me By Your Name concludes with a run of four scenes that all pack a stunning emotional wallop. First, there's a moment in which Elio's facade crumbles completely; you realize you only think his mask has dropped before this. Then comes what might just be the single best scene in any movie all year, between Elio and his father, where actor Michael Stuhlbarg absolutely crushes a moving monologue. Next comes an epilogue in which the recently exposed emotions of both the audience and Elio are buffeted again. Finally, as the end credits play, the camera lingers on Timothée Chalamet's face in an unbroken close-up that lasts several minutes and is a silent and powerful journey all unto itself.

Ratio-wise, we're barely talking about 10% of the movie. But pound for pound, it's the most brilliantly executed four scenes I've watched in quite a while. It's amazing, perhaps even more so for suddenly wringing a reaction from the audience after numbing it so thoroughly by what came before.

I've really wrestled with how to rate this movie, and I'm not even sure I've reached a real conclusion. But for the purposes of this post, I think I'm going to call the movie a B- overall. I'm not sure I can really recommend it; I'm not sure the juice is worth the squeeze, as they say. But I also think that all considered, I'm glad I did see it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Together or Not at All

The latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pulled a bit of a bait and switch. After the previous installment killed off most of the recurring players in the story arc and concluded with an escape attempt by Fitz, Simmons, and Daisy, it seemed as though our time on the station was imminently coming to a close.

Suddenly, things seem less certain. Mack had a perfect storm of do-gooding -- his need to help others to preserve his morality intersected with the need to protect young Flint as (perhaps deep down) a sort of proxy for his own twice-lost daughter. He decided to stay behind as the group fled to the planet surface, and so Yo-Yo decided to stay with him. So our days of cat-and-mouse on the station are not quite over.

Still, most of the group is moving on to the planet surface, where they'll presumably meet up with May in short order. The few scenes we got tracking May gave us the first taste of what we may be in for in the weeks ahead, as her life was saved by the handful of survivors still making it down there. Their leader appears to be the all-grown-up version of the little girl who glimpsed the future in Fitz's flashback episode, a fun and unexpected linkage in the story. Whether her modern coherence comes because she has lost her future visions or has simply learned to manage them may be an interesting plot point ahead.

But the episode arguably focused most of all on the villains, Kasius and Sinara. We'd already heard snippets of Kasius' back story before this, but this episode served up a heaping helping of "what drives this guy." His persecution complex finally wound up so tight that he broke, killing his own brother. Meanwhile, if you thought that last week's decision to force Sinara into the gladiatorial ring meant the end of the relationship between Sinara and Kasius, then you don't know them very well. (And hey, neither did I.) We learned exactly what binds them together, and saw that the bond was too strong to be broken -- strained, briefly, but not broken. Sinara was a cool badass in her non-speaking phase, but I'm glad they've now moved on to giving her dialogue so that she can advance from being a one-dimensional villain to the more well-rounded character the story needs now.

Perhaps this story arc is now moving (or at least drifting) in the direction of some answers? What is it our heroes are supposed to do here that made sending them into the future a necessity? The stealth and capers have been fun, but I'm ready for a little more meat on the bone next week. I give this episode a B.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Wolf Inside

This week's Star Trek: Discovery continued the "Mirror Universe arc" in fine fashion, with a story filled with both tension and emotional heft. It tracked parallel efforts by Burnham aboard the Shenzhou to complete her espionage mission and by Tilly aboard the Discovery to restore Stamets' sanity. The Mirror Universe continues to pay great dividends to the show. We got to spend just enough time with the characters before this story line began, enough time to establish who they all are so that we can fully appreciate what they're compromising to masquerade as murderous fascists.

It all took a particularly hard toll on Burnham. It began with her having to watch a trio of executions by about the grisliest means I could imagine in Star Trek -- spacing via transporter. (It makes you not want to trust being beamed anywhere by anyone in the Mirror Universe.) But the real torment was in carrying her relationship with Tyler farther, having her specifically articulate that he was the one tether holding her to reality, and then cutting the tether. (More on that in a bit.)

Even the good instincts people had in the Mirror Universe had dark streaks, as shown in that first communication between Burnham and Saru. Each lied to the other, Burnham withholding her encounter with Saru's doppleganger, Saru withholding the sudden and gruesome death of Culber. Each did it ostensibly to spare the other some pain, but ultimately both withheld information that could have been very useful to the other.

We got to meet the "resistance" of this mirror reality, and it was pretty great. First, there was more location shooting (supplemented by digital matte effects), creating another very credible alien world. Gone are the days of dressing a sound stage with ferns bought at the local hardware store, and it's great. More fun still were details for the fans, including an updated Tellarite and Andorian (though neither as redesigned as the Klingons), and the too-perfect goatee sported by Mirror Sarek.

This story line served for the best possible reveal of the Tyler-is-Voq story line that many fans had anticipated. Many shows and movies have done a Manchurian Candidate type of buried personality; only Star Trek could add the uniquely sci-fi twist of having the personality revealed by a confrontation with your own doppleganger. For anyone left who might have doubted that actor Shazid Latif was playing both roles, we got a last few technically sophisticated split screens to put two of him in the same scene (and have him fight himself!) before the big reveal.

That reveal served as a final twist of the knife for Burnham. Voq remembers everything he did as Tyler -- he just renounces it at all. Given Burnham's private confession of a few episodes earlier, that she'd never been in love before this, that makes it an especially painful ending to the relationship and a particularly horrible time for her. She's lived a life of repressing emotion, and can in no way be prepared for the ones now storming inside her. That said, though, if you pause for a moment to think about what Lorca is going through during all this time, you suddenly (however inappropriately) can't help but feel that Burnham needs to suck it up

One aspect of the Voq reveal rubbed me the wrong way a bit, though -- the flashback snippets of Voq/Tyler's memories spliced in. Showing us the gratuitous Klingon boobs again seemed unnecessary, while showing Culber's neck being snapped again just seemed cruel.

Stamets spent another episode lost in a semi-comatose state. Tilly tried to be sly slipping in the information that fungii are a mingling of death and life, but it wasn't sly enough for us not to anticipate "dead" Stamets being resurrected. One option would be for the same tech to somehow be used to revive Culber down the road, though I think another less far-fetched option might simply be that Stamets' access to the spore network somehow serves as a bridge for him to connect with memories of Culber at any time. But first, it's helped him connect with his Mirror counterpart, a development that intrigues me for the next episode.

At the very end came the reveal that the Emperor is Georgiou. It's of course the perfect choice to tighten the screws on Burnham, but a possibility I'd dismissed because of the gendered honorific "Emperor." Alright, Discovery, you got me on that one.

All together, a strong offering I'd mark a B+. I remain eagerly baited for what comes next.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Trying Two Hard

After watching the original Die Hard on Christmas night, I followed up a few days later with Die Hard 2. This one I knew I'd never actually watched before, in whole or in part. I also knew I was in for a disappointment, from what most people have said. (It's from craptastic director Renny Harlin; that really says a lot.)

The truth is, Die Hard 2 isn't actually that bad a movie, it's more that it comes off quite poorly in comparison to the original. There are times it strays closer to remake than sequel; it's certainly operating from a place of "here's more of exactly that thing you liked." Though set at an airport in a blizzard, the plot still positions John McClane as a one-eyed man in the kingdom of the blind -- not terribly well-equipped to deal with the terrorists he finds himself pitted against, but far better for it than the inept cops (who are also his adversaries). Many characters from the first film return in the second, even when they're a bit tough to shoehorn in. The ones who don't return are replaced by identical archetypes who behave in pretty much the same ways.

Even if you're perfectly fine with watching "Die Hard, Again," the real problem is that this sequel doesn't do nearly as good a job as the original at maintaining the suspension of disbelief. It feels like the movie gets wrong every single detail about airport security and air traffic regulation, even without viewing things through a post-9/11 lens. With modern sensibilities, the whole movie feels like it's taking place in a ludicrous fantasy land that never existed and never could. Not that thrill ride action movies are usually beholden to reason, but part of what made the first Die Hard noteworthy is that it felt like it was being a bit more realistic than other movies (at least in regards to the vulnerability of the hero).

Die Hard 2 is the "cotton candy" version of Die Hard -- empty, sugary calories. It's so far over the top, you can barely see the top anymore. Planes empty of fuel explode in ginormous fireballs. Characters deliver the cheesiest of one-liners, most of which feel like first draft filler meant to have been punched up later. Do you like naked martial arts? We've got them too!

Yet even in the campy construction, the actors are giving it their all. They seem to be having fun, and thus it's hard for the audience not to have some fun too. Bruce Willis is at his most wry. Bonnie Bedelia exudes bemused cool under pressure. William Atherton is (as always) the consummate asshole -- though Dennis Franz does give him a run for his money here. And while Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber is an irreplaceable villain, William Sadler does manage to make the hole seem not quite as gaping as it might have.

Still, the bottom line here is that there's really no need for Die Hard 2 in a world where Die Hard exists. Everything it can do, the first film can do better. I give Die Hard 2 a C-.