Monday, April 8, 2013

Critical Confessions



In the wake of Roger Ebert's sudden passing, I felt I needed to do this entry in order to get some things out. These are my critical confessions: me confessing my critical opinions on widely critiqued works of fiction. Opinions that may or may not be the popular or "right" opinion among most hardcore critics. But hey, Siskel and Ebert didn't always agree with each other, and not everyone always agreed with them. But they're admired, respected, and revered to this day for the passion they had for critiquing movies and talking about opinions, about what should and should not be enjoyed, and judging films as both entertainment and art. In truth, no critical opinion on anything is the Gospel, and these men most certainly knew that. There's rarely ever such thing as a right or wrong view on anything, even though I do think there's such thing as "good opinions" and "bad opinions" depending on how the opinion has been thought out and how much rational sense it makes. And though there may be such thing as "good" and "bad" quality, every thing ever made in the history of mankind holds some value to some select people. In the words of the fictitious restaurant critic Anton Ego from Disney/Pixar's "Ratatouile": "In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so." Critics who knew these words to be true had a huge appreciation for this movie because of this. And Roger Ebert was such a critic. He knew the truth that his opinion was not truth, and he never purported it as such. He only did exactly what his job was: to share his views with the majority. To give them a professionals' word on the subject in hopes that it could help people's own views in any way. For that, the late Siskel and Ebert have my eternal admiration. Even in the supposed eternal perfection of Paradise, I hope they still have things to critique together. But I'm rambling a bit off the rails here. Without further delay, I shall go on with my critical confessions:

- I think that "The Black Cauldron", while not a successful experiment, wasn't terrible and didn't deserve to bomb like it did. Likewise, I think "Treasure Planet" was mostly excellent and REALLY didn't deserve to bomb like it did.

- While I don't believe in a "no more 2D animation ever!" policy for Disney, I agree that 3D animation is the way to go for most new animated movies. It can work just as well as 2D.

- I like Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" just fine. Half adapting the source material book while also half adapting a prequel to "The Lord of the Rings" is pretty much the only way it could go. People will complain that it's too much sillier than LotR, or too serious for "The Hobbit." In my mind, there's a good balance. BUT I do wish it was two films instead of three. Making it a trilogy is just a cheap cash-grab move.

- I don't think the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy was quite as bad as people say it was. Sure, it was a ton weaker than the original trilogy (thanks alot, Lucas!) but they could be okay stories and decent entertainment, which is what the series should be. And I think "Attack Of The Clones" was the worst of the lot, not "The Phantom Menace."

- I think that the 2004 special edition for "A New Hope" is the definitive version of the movie (Han and Greedo both shooting, a better CGI Jabba, and the removal of some unnecessary alterations) while the 1997 special edition for "Return Of The Jedi" was the definitive version for it (no tacked-on prequel locations and Hayden Christenson there!) "The Empire Strikes Back" is just great by default. The recent Blu-ray special edition can go to movie Hell.

- "Kingdom Hearts II" was a great game with a great story. It just wasn't handled in the best way. And of course, it's special edition "Final Mix+" was even better. More on this in a future entry later this month!

- The first two "Harry Potter" movies were good films, keeping with the tone that the source material had at the time. The third film that followed it was the weakest movie: it's pace was rushed, the tone was too dreary, the choices made were wrong, and Alfonzo Cuaron was just not right for this at all.

- I think that Gary Oldman and Helen Bonham Carter were miscast in their "Harry Potter" roles.

- I enjoyed all three "Chronicles Of Narnia" movies, even if they kept getting a bit weaker.

- If you know the full story behind Mewtwo, then "Pokemon: the First Movie" is a good movie. If you don't, ehhhh....

- "Indigo League" is the only great "Pokemon" anime show. "Best Wishes" follows as second best but is merely good. The rest of the original series took a decline in quality, "Advanced Generation" was mediocre, and "Diamond and Pearl" was just abysmal. Needless to say, I'm unsure about the anime's future.

- "Pokemon Special" is a brilliant and high quality manga, but I did not like the Ruby/Sapphire, Emerald, and Black/White arcs much at all. Kusaka ought to throw in the towel.

- The special edition "Pokemon" games (Yellow, Crystal, Emerald, and Platinum) are always better than the first two versions, and deserve to be rated as such. And the two remakes deserve to be rated lower, especially Heart Gold and Soul Silver. I agree with the placement of "Black 2" and "White 2", however, even if those games were a good finale.

- I think that "The Legend of Korra" has gotten way too much flak due to the pitfalls of the first book of the first season (which still had a really good storyline in there if you look past the romantic subplot and wasted potential). It's become a full show now, so let's give it time rather than act as if it's over already!

- While "Batman And Robin" might technically be the worst Batman movie ever made, I think "Batman Returns" was worse in a number of ways. "Batman Forever" was just average: it didn't seem to know what it wanted to be.

- I think that Akira Toriyama's original manga of "Dragonball" deserves it's critical praise. Not so much the anime adaptation. I also think that "Dragonball Kai" was better than the original "Z" anime in a number of ways, particularly in the music department and the pacing of the Freeza saga. It didn't deserve to bomb as badly as it did either.

- I think that neither "Twilight Princess" or "Skyward Sword" are better than "Ocarina Of Time",but they're better than "Majora's Mask" and "Wind Waker."

- Many "Mario" titles are overrated and score to high with critics just because they're "Mario". This is ESPECIALLY true for "Super Mario Galaxy 2."

- I think all three movies of Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" trilogy, even "Spider-Man 3", are better and more enjoyable films than Mark Webb's "The Amazing Spider-Man." To me, the criticism for the Raimi films are like those for "The Hobbit." Too "campy?" Too "melodramatic?" A balance of serious drama and corny, goofy superhero fun is exactly how "Spider-Man" was originally like, and the creative liberties that deviate from that source material often have to be done: it's an adaptation, not the source material itself!

- I (like Doug Walker, James Rolfe, Lewis Louvhag, MadGoblin, and others) like "Spider-Man 3", it's various glaring flaws and all. The things it did well, it did really well.

- Toei's anime adaptation of "Yu-Gi-Oh!" needs more love. It was just as good as "Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monster" at it's best.

- "Digimon Adventure 02" was a mess, but a fun mess that deserves more praise for the things it did right rather than only focus on criticism of what it did wrong.

- "Digimon Savers" was average. Not too good, but not that bad until the last arc. Got that, JesuOtaku?

- "Digimon Xros Wars: The Young Hunters Leaping Through Time" is the biggest insult to the franchise. Worse than "Adventure 02", "Frontier", and "Savers" put together!

- The "Sonic The Hedgehog" video game franchise has indeed Jumped The Shark, as have the Archie comics series. That said, I think the SatAM series deserves it's praise and it would've been interesting to have seen it continue.

- "Superman Returns" was average. Nothing outstanding, but an enjoyable way to pass time.

- "Smallville" Jumped The Shark beyond repair after the fifth season. It stopped being "Smallville" and just became "Young Superman."

- "Spongebob Squarepants" earned it's popularity during it's first few years. After the movie....no. It deserves to die.

- "Gargoyles" deserved to get at least one more season, and then have it's stories continue through spin-offs.

- "Final Fantasy VI" and "Final Fantasy IX" are good, but overrated on the Internet. "Final Fantasy VIII" and "Final Fantasy X" are good, but underrated on the Internet. "Final Fantasy VII" deserves it's love, while "Final Fantasy XIII" deserves it's hate. "Final Fantasy XII" was just mediocre.

- "Crisis Core" was the only truly good thing produced for "The Compliation Of Final Fantasy VII" (not counting the original "Advent Children"), but it's far from perfect. Had they only removed that dumbass original storyline...

-Three theatrical movie adaptations of Dr Seuss' stories were good. Only "The Cat In The Hat" was truly awful.

- The original anime of "Neon Genesis Evangelion" was great, but far from perfect. The "Rebuild" movies are far from perfect, but are good. Sandamoto's manga adaptation is the definitive version, despite it's terrible release history. Thank God it's ending very soon!

-"The Care Bears Movie" was genuinely a good children's movie. The two "sequels" that followed both sucked ass, especially that "In Wonderland" one. The second one at least had DARKHEEEAAART!

- Ian Brill's "Darkwing Duck" comic series was not that bad at all, even if it played it's best arc first.

- The "Yu Yu Hakusho" anime adaptation is much better than the original manga.

- "Teen Titans" was a great animated series from start to finish, and in many areas better than the source material Wolfman/Perez comics. And it's much more enjoyable than "Young Justice".

- The anime adaptation of "Death Note" was not as good as the original manga. But the Japanese live action "Death Note" movie duology contain the definitive version of the story. Got that, JesuOtaku?

- To this day, I am pissed about the Grand Finale movie for "Hey Arnold!" that we could have had, but didn't get. After the last episode built to it so well, it deserved to have it's closure.

- The "Powerpuff Girls Z" anime was decent, even if not as good as the original US cartoon.

- "The Looney Tunes Show" is a decent effort, but it still can't quite appeal to today's kids.

- "The Slayers Revolution/Evolution R" is a disaster of an anime that should've never been attempted.

- "The Wanderers" anime series is, in some areas, better than the original "El Hazard" OVA.

- "South Park" is kind of starting to wear thin these days, though it's still not bad.

- "One Piece" stopped being a solid manga during the CP9 saga and is being dragged out way longer than was needed, to the point where it's no longer the series it began as. As such, it's incredibly overrated and I've lost interest.

- Willie Aame's "Bibleman" is a hilarious Guilty Pleasure that deserves more love.

- "Haruhi Suzumiya" novel series was great for a while, but needs to end soon. Also, the anime adaptation does some things better than the books, ignoring the "Endless Eight" and "Sigh" episodes.

- The ending of "Cowboy Bebop" was perfect. It cannot continue now. Spike is dead, dead, dead!

- "Sailor Moon" and "Sailor Moon R" anime are arguably better than the original manga. "Sailor Moon S" is mediocre, yet terribly overrated. "Sailor Moon Super S" is laughably bad, yet terribly underrated. "Sailor Moon Stars" is an abomination that deserves the scorn the original manga writer gave it.

- "Naruto" and "Bleach", while they started off okay, are bland, dragged out, and overall terrible shonen anime/manga series and are not worth investing time into. There are far more interesting and enjoyable series' out there.

- "Gurren Lagann" is a fun anime, but way, waaaaay overrated. It's not the anti-"Evangelion", nor is it better than it.

- As with "Eva", the manga adaptations of "Code Geass", "Gurren Lagann", and "Scry-ed" are better than their animes.

- The "Gundam" franchise, with few exceptions, is a really freaking boring franchise.

- The original "Full Metal Alchemist" manga is better than both anime adaptations. The first anime is way overrated, while "Brotherhood" is too underrated due to it's underwhelming early episodes.

- Anime like "Eureka 7" and "Tommorow's Nadja" need more love. Keep watching: they get better once the plot kicks in!

- The works of Rumiko Takahashi start good only to fall into repetitive crap. She's a brilliant creator, but a hack writer.

- George R Martin's "A Song Of Ice And Fire" Jumped The Shark after the third book. It's TV adaptation, "Game Of Thrones", Jumped The Shark even earlier...in it's second season! Yet I'd still say that the latter has more potential than the former as of now, assuming the "shark jump" is really just a Sophomore Slump.

- The "Twilight" book series by Stephanie Meyer is just awful, but the movie adaptations are total Guilty Pleasures. I enjoy the people involved, and seeing how they translate Meyer's work to the screen is comedic gold!

- "Buffy The Vampire Slayer", like "Smallville", Jumped The Shark beyond repair after the fifth season. Joss Whedon is a good writer, but a creative sellout and not a good person to be running a show for long. I just cannot always approve of his style and methods.

- "The Twilight Zone" is still one of the best TV shows ever made.

- Everything bad critics say about "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" is true. "Futurama" and "American Dad" are pretty decent, despite sharing the creators of the other two.

- I enjoy the first Michael Bay "Transformers" movie as a Guilty Pleasure, and it does not make me retarded to do so. But I can barely stomach the two sequels, where Bay got waaay too much "creative freedom."

- Shows like "The Spectacular Spider-Man" did not deserve to get canned after 26 episodes. But some shows that met the same fate, like "ThunderCats", did.

- I did not like "Young Justice". It's first season started off badly, then got better in it's second half, but then the "Invasion" season (which started off with a bullshit timeskip) was just awful. With bland characters, hilariously bad writing, and needless comic book fanservice all around, this was, in my opinion, the weakest show that Greg Weisman was at the helm of.

- Speaking of Weisman, while I greatly appreciated his efforts to save the "W.I.T.C.H" animated series, I don't think he succeeded. That finale was just lame.

- "Kim Possible" was a good but overrated modern Disney series. The likes of "Recess", "Fillmore", and "Phineas and Ferb" are easily better.

- All shows created by Man Of Action are decent, though their work on "Ultimate Spider-Man" is terrible.

- "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic", while a brilliant reboot of an old show, is WAAAAAAAY overrated. Bronies fucking scare me.

- "Scooby Doo: Mystery Incorporated" is the best Scooby Doo series and was the greatest animated series in a long time. No, seriously. I cannot recommend this show enough. Go check it out, you will not regret it! And you will NOT believe that THIS is a Scooby freaking Doo show!

- Stephen King is a great writer, but he's not perfect, nor is he the best.

- "Epic Mickey" is better than all "Kingdom Hearts" games that came after "II." The first "Epic Mickey" game is also the best of it's series, followed by "Power Of Illusion", followed by "Epic Mickey 2."

- The "Metal Gear" franchise started really going down hill as of "Metal Gear Solid 3" and has totally gone to crap now. Hideo Kojima might be a mad genius, but he's also the architect of his own undoings.

- "The World Ends With You" is not great or original, but a fun little time-waster that Nomura ought to be sticking with instead of "Final Fantasy" and "Kingdom Hearts".

- "T2: Judgement Day" was a great, wonderfully done movie, but it's story was terribly executed.

- "Forrest Gump" is indeed better than "Pulp Fiction" and deserved to win the Oscar. While I enjoyed "Pulp Fiction" alot, I found it to be a deliberately stupid movie. Tarantino did it brilliantly, but it's still not Oscar-worthy in my eyes.

- "Beauty And The Beast" is better than "The Silence Of The Lambs", even if that latter movie's Oscar was well earned.

- "Se7en" is a fucking terrible movie, and the epitome of "dark and cynical for the sake of it."

- On a similar note, "The Seventh Seal" is also a fucking terrible movie that's needlessly grim and depressing. This one barely even has a coherent narrative to it!

- The "Scream" series Jumped The Shark in the second movie when Randy died but Dewey lived.

- "Titanic" was a really good movie, despite any of it's flaws. "Avatar", on the other hand...

- "Unbreakable" was M Night Shyamalan's best movie. "The Sixth Sense" comes in second next to it.

- "X-Men 3: The Last Stand", while bad, was not a terrible movie. It had lots of saving graces, particularly Kelsey Grammar as Beast.

- "A Bug's Life", "Cars 2", and "Brave" were Pixar's weakest movies. "Wall-E" is overrated, and the first "Cars" is underrated. Heck, "Pixar" in general can be a bit overrated.

- "The Dark Knight" trilogy is fantastic, but is not the end-all, be-all for Batman and Superhero movies.

- Aside from Roger Ebert's spot-on criticisms, everything else about "Cruel Intentions" worked. Got that, Lindsay Ellis?

- The Slasher movie is a sub-genre of Horror that needs to die already. Aside from the original Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger and Ghostface are the only good slashers out there. All others are Guilty Pleasures at best.

- "Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series" improved after it's first season. The first season is boring by comparison.

- "Demo Reel" was a mediocre mini-series, but "The Nostalgia Critic" should not have bothered returning.

- I've got several Guilty Pleasures. You'll probably hear more about them in a future entry.

- Most films that are considered "classics" and "masterpieces?" Odds are they deserve their praise.

If I think of any more, I'll put them up here. Keep watching for possible updates!

7 comments:

  1. While I obviously agree with most of this, some things I just have to talk about.

    -I will have to add to that "Pokemon: The First Movie" one that Suede, Linakra and JewWario were right in their recent review: "Spell of the Unown", Shudo's final film, is the BEST Pokemon movie in terms of quality. People of all ages can enjoy it, and you don't have to be a big fan of Pokemon to understand it.

    -Even when they pick up, I feel "Eureka 7" and "Tommorow's Nadja" could have been better. Maybe it's just that I find the protagonists pretty lackluster.

    -Honestly, I'm not sure about "Game of Thrones" having more potential than "Song of Ice and Fire". The two showrunners made so much horrendously stupid moves in the second season and early reports indicate this might not change in the third. A Gekko Ending in the show used to intrigue me. Now I'm kind of fearing it.

    -"W.I.T.C.H" would have been alot better if Weisman had helmed it from the very beginning. That second season finale would have worked then, since I just know Weisman would have actually characterized Cedric as clever and devious in the first season!

    -I can't completely blame Man of Action for "Ultimate Spider-Man". Paul Dini, a famously revered writer, wrote the first two episodes and those were also crap. It's all because of Joe Quesada and Jeph Loeb's immature direction.

    -I would much rather play "Epic Mickey" and "Power of Illusion" than the vastly underwhelming "Epic Mickey 2". But I'd rather play "Epic Mickey 2" than "358/2 Days", "Coded", or "Dream Drop Distance". This statement is just sad for both the "Epic Mickey" AND "Kingdom Hearts" franchises.

    -"Beauty and the Beast" deserved the Best Picture Oscar more than "Silence of the Lambs", IMO. "Silence of the Lambs" already got the Oscar it needed: Best Actor for Anthony Hopkins.

    -Lindsay was right that sticking too closely to the source material in high school didn't work well for "Cruel Intentions", especially when it comes to the ending (which plays in to Ebert's criticisms). Otherwise, she got it dead wrong, ESPECIALLY when it comes to Sarah Michelle Gellar, whom it sounds like she's just naturally biased against anyway.

    -No, I disagree. "The Nostalgia Critic" should have returned. But he really screwed it up in how he's formatted these episodes. I get that he wants to change things around, but there HAD to have been a better way to do it than these "Demo Reel"-esque skits constantly throwing off the review and cheap editorials every other week.

    - MOST films, sure. But not all. Remember, "The Seventh Seal" is thought of as that by many.

    And you have a KH2-based entry and a Guilty Pleasure entry in the works? I'm looking forward to those!

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    1. - Suede, Linkara, and JewWario were right on all their verdicts of Shudo's Pokemon movies.

      - Well Nadja kind of NEEDS to be the Purity Sue she is or the work would be terribly depressing. No such excuse for Renton and Eureka, though. They're the reason their show could never make my top anime list after all. Though it's at least better than it's awful "sequel."

      - My main issue with the second season was not only that the deviations from the source material was bad, but that there shouldn't be that much heavy deviation at this point when the story is still GOOD. The new season will make or break this show for me. I'd like to think they can do better than Martin has done in the past several years, but...

      - Yes exactly. That story could've worked had Cedric been the clever Smug Snake he was in the comics. Problem is...he wasn't. And he never had the time to properly become so. Weisman tried his best, but the show still got botched in the end.

      - All the same, everyone shares the blame in "Ultimate Spider-Man." Everyone.

      - I know, right? And I thought that "Epic Mickey 2" being the only one with proper voice acting would be great...but then I heard Cary Elwes' voice acting for Gus, and worse, he does not SHUT UP!

      - Yes, I agree there. I said that "Silence"'s Oscar was well earned, but not nessecarily DESERVED.

      - The high school thing did work so long as they didn't lift quotes and plot points directly from the source material: then it just became Narm. But Lindsay's other criticisms were bullshit. And what does she have against Sarah Michelle Gellar anyway? Gellar is awesome!

      - OK I guess he'd have to return in order to boost site ratings again (no matter how much that pisses on "To Boldly Flee"), but the thing is...he's returned In Name Only. This is NOT the Nostalgia Critic: it's Doug Walker being a bad movie critic/editorialist, who puts on "Demo Reel" skits on the side because he so obviously misses that and tires of being the NC. He's trying to have his cake and eat it too!

      - "The Seventh Seal" deserves to be considered a CULT classic.

      I'm looking forward to doing 'em! ^^

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  2. "Indigo League" is the only great "Pokemon" anime show. "Best Wishes" follows as second best but is merely good. The rest of the original series took a decline in quality, "Advanced Generation" was mediocre, and "Diamond and Pearl" was just abysmal. Needless to say, I'm unsure about the anime's future."

    I agree on Indigo, but what has Best Wishes done to even remotely be considered "good"? The characters don't have any good development. Ash was reset. And none of the arcs have been terribly well done.
    Diamond and Pearl IMO gets 2nd, simply due to the fact that it contains the best arc the show has ever done from start to finish, the Ash vs. Paul rivalry.

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    1. This was here for a while and I didn't notice? Wow.

      Simply put, Ash has been around so long that I don't care how much he progresses or regresses, characters like Iris, Stephan, Georgia, Trip, and N had great development, and even like Cilan, Burgundy, and Team Rocket got some to lesser extents. And you're going to tell me that arcs such as the Meteonite arc (despite it's conclusion getting pulled), the Nyagotiator Meowth/Battle Subway arc, the Clubsplosion arc, the Meloetta/Operation Tempest arc, and the "Episode N" arc weren't well done? In comparison to DP's all over the place arcs?
      And you know how I feel about Paul and that rivalry arc. It was boring, it was repetitive, it was sloppily written, and it's conclusion was predictable as all Hell. It's exactly the type of story that the anime's original head writer wanted to AVOID when he wrote the Ash and Gary rivalry.

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  3. "I did not like "Young Justice". It's first season started off badly, then got better in it's second half, but then the "Invasion" season (which started off with a bullshit timeskip) was just awful. With bland characters, hilariously bad writing, and needless comic book fanservice all around, this was, in my opinion, the weakest show that Greg Weisman was at the helm of."

    Why was the timeskip BS?

    Bland characters and bad writing? How about examples?

    Needless comic book fanservice was ALOT WORSE on JLU!

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    1. Pulling a timeskip as an excuse to change or throw away certain core characters and introduce new ones was not a good move, in my opinion. It probably contributed to a loss of ratings.

      Listing examples would make this response to long. The big one would be the Light: great concept, terrible execution. A big council of different villains with different agendas should not be so flawless in the villainy they commit. There's being a credible threat, and then there's Villain Sue-dom. The Light was the latter.

      And no, it wasn't. It was pretty bad with it, yes, but at least the DCAU had built up to this point enough so that expanding it's universe now made sense. YJ just kept on throwing in all these characters and references at us that non-comic fans would not get or care about.

      Also, the series ended with Wally's pointless death. You can't argue to that.

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  4. It's interesting you compare the Hobbit trilogy and Sam Raimi trilogy to each other because my opinion of each trilogy seem to match each other:

    Spider-Man and An Unexpected Journey: I really liked them, in particular, I knew The Hobbit had to be a lot campier to set itself apart from The Lord of the Rings. Funnily enough it was the serious moments when they slowed down with some exceptions like Uncle Ben's death and Bilbo sparing Gollum. But still enjoyable for what they were.

    Spider-Man 2 and The Desolation of Smaug: This is where I think both trilogies hit their stride, they balanced the seriousness and the camp factor a lot more consistently and moved at a better pace.

    Spider-Man 3 and The Battle of the Five Armies: The opposite problem with SP1 and AUJ, the campy moments really dragged it down especially Emo Peter and Alfrid, which was a shame because it had some of the best dramatic moments in their trilogies like the Birth of Sandman and the fight with Smaug.

    I definitely agree with you on the first two Harry Potter films, plus the fact that the light-hearted tone helped make the final battle more dramatic. Compare the reveal of Hogwarts with the whimsical music with the poster for HP7 where Hogwarts looks damn-near destroyed and you get a real sense of lost innocence that wouldn't have been nearly as effective if it started too dark or weird.

    For my own Critical Confession; I kinda like Speed more than Die Hard. Don't get me wrong John McClane and Hans Gruber are a better hero and villain than Jack Travern and Howard Payne and I appreciate Die Hard's mark on pop-culture, particularly the hero not being an indestructable muscle-machine. But what I think Speed did better was make me really care about the hostages who prior to the film have no personal connection to Jack, I didn't want to see any of these people die, even the tourist who is usually the annoying Ellis-like character you want to see die. Add to that the high-concept of a bomb that will blow up if a bus goes below 50mph and you've got an action classic.

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