Back in November, I attended an all-day marathon of the "Twilight" movies, an experience that left me forever transformed (not really). So when the same theater was offering a similar -- although altogether weirder -- marathon experience tied to the opening of the new "Die Hard" film, "A Good Day to Die Hard," I was more than game. Sit in a movie theater all day with a bunch of violence-loving weirdos? On a weekday, no less? Count me in!
Granted, it seemed like a pretty iffy proposition from the get-go: the "Die Hard" franchise, while occasionally quite brilliant, is something that is aired repeatedly on cable television, and a marathon of all the films might not be the type of thing someone would, say, take off work to attend. So, as I went up to the box office, I asked the attendant whether anyone else had bought tickets to this thing. "Oh, quite a few people," she assured me. She was lying.
There were maybe a dozen people in the theater, and that is being charitable. Most were white males in their mid-twenties, in small clusters. A group of four sat towards the back of the theater and yelled out things like, "Tell 'em Bruce!"
Then there were two guys I spoke to, Joe and Mike, who were there because the Milford, Connecticut school system was still suspended following last week's killer snowstorm. Joe told me that he loved "Die Hard" because it was "the ultimate man movie," while Mike said that, compared to the "Star Wars" franchise, he liked "Die Hard" better. Bold words, young padawan.
However, there was clearly an outlier in this theater: a middle-aged woman sitting alone behind me, who looked seemingly well-adjusted. When I finally got to talk to her, she was just as down to earth as I imagined. "What else are you going to do on a cold winter day?" she asked. Her name was Chris. She tried to get various members of her family to join her but they all declined, so she decided to do it herself. Chris told me she was a big fan of both the "Die Hard" franchise and Bruce Willis, "because he hasn't had a lot of plastic surgery ... If you pull one stick out of Sylvester Stallone's face, the whole thing will come undone." When I asked her what other marathon she would be willing to waste a day of her life on, she shot back with: "A marathon of the Coen Brothers movies. Just run it from 'Blood Simple' on; that'd be great."
Surprisingly, there were a few couples in the audience, as well. One, Holly and Jacob, said they had hatched the plot to watch the marathon together. They both had the day off, too, which worked out well. I asked them what they were doing for Valentine's Day, since whatever they had planned would undoubtedly be a step down from witnessing a full day of bone-shattering violence. "This is our Valentine's Day," Holly told me. "We both have to work tomorrow." I hope I get invited to their wedding -- and they seat me next to Alan Rickman.
Watching all of the movies again on the big screen proved to be pretty fun, particularly with the first “Die Hard.” The audience response to the original movie was lively. It's a great film, even on the one-billionth viewing. I also found myself noticing things I hadn’t before. For instance, there are a couple of moments when director John McTiernan implies that Bruce Willis's John McClane might be struggling with infidelity.
Throughout the day, people, alerted by my Instagram and Facebook updates, would send me their own "Die Hard" stories. A friend in Los Angeles, who was also at a marathon, inquired as to how many "Die Heads" were in the audience. Another, in Brooklyn, sent me a photo of a painting her boyfriend, artist Kelly Beam, had commissioned -- a portrait of Alan Rickman's villainous Hans Gruber, from the first "Die Hard."
When the second movie rolled around, with McClane (now an LA cop) dealing with terrorists at a Washington, D.C. airport, the mood in the theater had noticeably dampened. The film is too grim and violent, and although there were only twelve people in the audience, you could tell they weren't feeling it.
Which is why the third movie, "Die Hard with a Vengeance", was a much-needed shot of adrenaline -- about half the people I spoke to in the theater cited as their favorite in the franchise. The film’s entertaining plot and frenetic pace was especially helpful before watching the fourth entry, "Live Free or Die Hard," a supposed action movie about people typing on keyboards (cyber-terrorism!)
Unfortunately, the fourth sequel was just as poorly organized and implemented as the entire marathon. There wasn't an itinerary, so you never really knew when the next movie was set to start. There wasn't that much time in between films, either, so I couldn't sneak down to the mall food court and actually, you know, eat. At one point, I got halfway through a corndog before realizing that I had to be back for more well-choreographed mayhem.
The fifth film, the one we were all ostensibly here to see, might have been even more aggressively dull than the fourth; it is a humorless bore. When it ended, the four guys who had been so enthusiastically vocal earlier looked visibly depressed. One of them looked at me and said, "You know what you should write about? How much that one sucked!"
I cornered Chris on the way out of the theater and asked her what she thought of the latest chapter. "It was okay," she said. "But it would have been better if the Coen Brothers had directed it."
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 01/11/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> From director Ruben Fleischer ("Zombieland"), "Gangster Squad" follows a group of 1940s rouge cops (Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin) who will stop at nothing to catch L.A.'s most wanted criminal (Sean Penn).
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 01/25/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> Starring 28 (!) celebrities, directors ranging from Peter Farrelly to James Gunn to Brett Ratner plumb the depths of the "ensemble comedy" to bring you just pure and total insanity. There's bathroom humor galore, leprechauns, sexually transmitted diseases -- a regular cornucopia of comedy.
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 02/08/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> From "Horrible Bosses" director, Seth Gordon, Jason Bateman plays a man whose identity has been stolen by a frosted-hair shop-a-holic, played by Melissa McCarthy.
'A Good Day to Die Hard'
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 02/14/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> John McClane is heading to Russia, with his son, played by Jai Courtney, and soon finds himself amid something familiar: terrorist hijinks.
'Oz: The Great and Powerful'
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 03/08/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> James Franco stars as Oscar Diggs, a conniving magician who has his own black-and-white tornado-of-sorts and ends up in the world of Oz and attempts to become the great wizard of his dreams.
'Pain and Gain'
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 04/26/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> Based on Pete Collins's Miami New Times series, "Pain & Gain," Bay's professed "dark comedy," follows a pair of Floridian musclemen (Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson) who get mixed up in a doomed kidnapping.
'Iron Man 3'
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 05/03/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) returns in this third installment of "Iron Man." This time around, he's facing off against his most powerful enemy yet: the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).
'The Great Gatsby'
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 05/10/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> Baz Lurhmann's much-anticipated adaptation stars (swoon) Leonardo DiCaprio as the eponymous Gatsby, Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan. Also: Jay-Z on the soundtrack.
'Star Trek Into Darkness'
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 05/17/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> Kirk, Spock and the rest of the gang are back for J.J. Abrams's intergalactic sequel. Here, our heroes return home to "find an unstoppable force of terror," as they go up against villain John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch).
'The Hangover Part III'
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 05/24/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> According to Zach Galifianakis (Alan), the third film in the "Hangover" series will ditch the same wedding shenanigans format of the first two in the film. Though plot details are sparse, director Todd Philips <a href="http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20385926_20456486,00.html#21253658">told EW that</a> "The Hangover Part III is Alan's story. He's going through a crisis after the death of his father. The Wolfpack is all he has."
'Man of Steel'
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 06/14/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> From Zack Snyder ("300") "Man of Steel" follows Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) who is struggling on whether to suppress his superpowers or embrace them to become the invincible dreamboat we all know and love.
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 06/21/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sulley (John Goodman) are back in this long-awaited prequel. Set 10 years before the events of "Monsters Inc," this story focuses on the duo as they become best friends while attending college.
'World War Z'
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 06/21/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> The adaptation of Max Brooks's novel imagines quick-footed zombies taking over the world. The only man for the job? Family man -- and we're assuming some one-time decorated solider? -- Brad Pitt.
'The Lone Ranger'
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 07/03/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> The most-recent revamp of the Americana classic stars the caroonishly handsome Armie Hammer as the masked crusader and a very made-up Johnny Depp as his trusty companion, Tonto.
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 07/12/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> From director Guillermo del Toro, the film follows a group of soldiers who look to take on monsters that popped up through a portal in the Pacific Ocean. The only way to fight them? With massive robots.
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 07/26/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> Hugh Jackman returns as the titular X-Men character, as he travels to Japan to meet a samurai warrior, Shingen Yashida.
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 08/09/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> Neil Blomkamp's follow-up to his enormously popular 2009 sci-fi flick "District 9." Set in 2159, the film follows Max (Matt Damon), a man who attempts to bring harmony to a world that has been split into two, with the wealthy living on a space station and the rest of the population on a ruined Earth.
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 09/20/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> From director Ron Howard comes the true story of Formula 1 champion driver Niki Lauda, played by Chris Hemsworth. The film focuses on Lauda's 1976 crash.
'Sin City: A Dame to Kill For'
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 10/04/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> The long-awaited sequel to Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez's masterful 2005 flick will see the return of Mickey Rourke (Marv), Jessica Alba (Nancy Callahan) and Rosario Dawson (Gail).
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 11/01/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> Based on the popular novel by Orson Scott Card, the film follows the story of Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a gifted child who ends up at a military school in space to prepare for an invasion from the Formics. Harrison Ford stars as Commander Hyrum Graff.
'Thor: The Dark World'
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 11/08/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> Chris Hemsworth is back as the prince of Asgard, as he faces off against an ancient race led by the evil Malekith. Also returning will be Natalie Portman as Jane Foster and the always entertaining Tom Hiddleston as Loki.
'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 11/22/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> The sequel to Suzanne Collins's gangbuster hit, "Catching Fire" reunites Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and the rest of the gang in another epic test of survival.
'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug'
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 12/13/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> The story of J.R.R. Tolkien's "Hobbit" continues in the second of three prequel films from director Peter Jackson. The film, like its predecessor, will adapt tales form both "The Hobbit" and Tolkien's other works, including "The Silmarillion"
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 12/20/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> The true story of author P.L. Travers traveling from London to Hollywood to meet with Walt Disney, as his company plans on adapting her book "Mary Poppins" for the big screen. Travers will be played by Emma Thompson, and the part of Disney will go to Tom Hanks. Early Oscar favorite, anyone?
'Anchorman: The Legend Continues'
<strong>Release Date:</strong> 12/20/2013 <strong>What It's About:</strong> Ron Burgundy is back, in this highly-anticipated sequel, the details of which have yet to be released in full. The only thing we know, per director Adam McKay, is that there will be some type of custody battle. Get excited!