Friday Flicks: Hey, Bruce Willis, Is It Really ‘A Good Day to Die Hard’?

TIME breaks down which films to see and which to avoid this weekend.

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CENTURY CITY, CA - JANUARY 31: Actor Bruce Willis attends the dedication and unveiling of a new soundstage mural celebrating 25 years of "Die Hard" at Fox Studio Lot on January 31, 2013 in Century City, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

A Good Day to Die Hard

The original Die Hard has been called one of the greatest action movies of all time. It’s pretty evident that each subsequent installment hasn’t reached the dizzying heights of that 1988 classic, as Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman went at it on the 30th floor of the Nakatomi Corporation building in Los Angeles.

Twenty-five years on, the fifth film in the series A Good Day to Die Hard – still starring Bruce Willis as bedraggled cop John McClane, still in the wrong place at the wrong time — is set in Russia, which is about as far as you could get from its L.A. roots. The script is provided by Skip Woods (The A-Team) and the director is John Moore (Max Payne). Let us state that expectations aren’t exactly high.

And perhaps that’s the reason for the reported embargo on reviews. A couple of maverick critics did go it alone, however, and the news is as feared. “Continuity has become a thing of the past for the franchise, which would help itself by not continuing anymore,” concludes RedEye. And Blu-Ray.com is even less impressed:

A Good Day to Die Hard is a painful miscarriage of a movie. It’s a clueless, joyless slog though idiotic filmmaking and dead-eyed paycheck-cashing, unfit to wear the brand name. It’s a heartbreaker, though one that isn’t exactly a shock to the system. R.I.P. Die Hard franchise (1988-1995). We’ll always have Nakatomi Plaza.”

The New York Times doesn’t even think the movie was meant for American viewers: “A Good Day to Die Hard is squarely aimed at the overseas marketplace. About a third of the dialogue is already subtitled, and the rest would take a competent translator about 15 minutes to render.”

TIME REVIEW: Yippee-Ki-Yay, Mother Russia

Escape From Planet Earth

Tagline: Earth‘s greatest secrets are about to break out!

Should the folks at Pixar be getting worried about the competition? This month’s Oscar for Best Animation may well end up going to Brave, but the likes of Wreck-It Ralph and Frankenweenie  — both made by Walt Disney — are set to run it awfully close. A year from now, will the Weinstein Company’s Escape From Planet Earth be considered a contender?

A stable of well-known voices has been assembled  for the film. Brendan Fraser is Scorch Supernova, the space hero who defends his planet, Beeb, against bad guy Shanker (James Gandolfini). Jessica Alba, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Sarah Jessica Parker all make an appearance, although the key question is whether parents will enjoy proceedings as much as their children.

But what of those big kids, the critics? At this time of writing, no reviews had been posted, which has never been the most encouraging sign.

BAFTAs: The British Oscars Also Love Ben Affleck’s Argo

NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: If you need to escape from A Good Day to Die Hard, then the lack of reviews suggest Escape From Planet Earth isn’t your best possible option. Why not go back and enjoy the original Die Hard?

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