Monday, June 08, 2009

DH in HD

Coincidental with the broadcast stations dropping their analog signals I finally got an HD-TV. What took me so long? It wasn’t the price, it was the weight. My previous TV was a huge Sony Trinitron that got as good a non-HD picture as you could get… and it weighed a fucking ton. Recently one of those big chain stores offered great prices, free delivery and installation, and here was the kicker – they would take away your old TV. I’d sell it or donate it but no one from the Jewish Council of Women was going to show up with a crane.

Buying one of these HD suckers introduced me to a whole new world of confusion. LCD vs. Plasma? Response time? 1081 or some other number? LCD vs. LED? Sony or Samsung or Fuzijurutakiaki? Number of pixels. Energy savers. How black are the blacks? Generic cables or Monster brand cables? 4’ or 6’ or 120’? Every time the sales person would explain something I’d nod and say, “but you’ll pick up the old TV, right?”

I finally settled on one, had to wait ten days for it to be promptly delivered. And they made the mistake of only sending two guys instead of ten. How heavy was that old Sony? The two installers looked like the burly delivery guys in the Miller Beer commercials. Just sliding the TV out of the cabinet and setting it on the ground almost gave both a hernia. But eventually they set up the new one and wheeled the old meteor out. There was nothing in the news about any freeway bridges collapsing so I guess they arrived at their final destination.

I was sooo thrilled to see it go.

Once I finally turned on the new one I couldn’t believe I lived this long without it. And for the last few days I’ve been watching anything that’s on as long it’s in HD. Give me a documentary on carbon dating with shots of the Muir Woods and I’m there! MLB-TV replayed game seven of the 2008 ALCS. I watched eight innings even though I knew who won. And was rooting for the other team.

It’s like when I was a kid and our family finally got a color TV. And by color I mean faces looked purple and everything else was bright green and red. But it was a revelation. For days we all just camped in front of that thing watching whatever was in color. I sat mesmerized at the Osmond family singing on the ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW. “Wow! Look at those blue sweaters they’re wearing! This is the greatest entertainment EVER!”

So it was with that mindset that I turned on HBO-HD a couple of nights ago to watch LIVE FREE: DIE HARD. I figured, this is going to be fun. I loved the original DIE HARD, it’s an action movie – okay Bruce Willis is too old for this by twenty years – but the visuals alone should be eye-popping enough to warrant my time.

WRONG!!

What an unbelievable piece of shit. Maybe the single stupidest action movie of all-time. Who knew you could hack into someone’s computer on-line and blow it up? And that’s just in the first ten minutes. The stunts were so off-the-charts absurd that a Road Runner cartoon was stark realism by comparison.

And then there’s Bruce. Superman in a suit of indestructible titanium armor couldn’t survive the falls and crashes and explosions that Bruce weathered with relative ease. Sure, he suffered a few minor bruises and his back stiffened the way it might if someone his age reached down to pick up a penny without flexing his knees first. Otherwise, he’s hitching a ride on a moving F-35, beating the shit out of a woman while in a truck suspended precariously in an elevator shaft, and flying a helicopter after maybe one lesson.

Television was an amazing invention; color television, a startling advance: and high-definition, an absolute wonder. But the technology has not been invented nor ever will that would make LIVE FREE: DIE HARD be worth sitting through. As I slogged through this mess I kept wondering, is there anything in the world that could kill Bruce in this movie? And then it hit me. Yes! My old TV could fall on him.

Suddenly I longed for that old Sony.

35 comments:

Tom Quigley said...

Bruce Willis in any DEF will usually set video technology back a stage or two... Last time I tried to watch THE SIXTH SENSE, I kept seeing TV repairmen...

Question Mark said...

I was afraid this post was going to be about watching 'Desperate Housewives' in HD. Few things are more horrifying than a clear look at Teri Hatcher's botoxed face.

James said...

The script for LFODH was originally NOT a Die Hard script, but when they finally convinced Bruce (re: paid enough), they hijacked this crappy one and stuck John McClane in it.

mark.r said...

yeah, the technology and some of the stunts made zero sense. but after bruce willis drove that one guy into the side of a dumpster, i was willing to forgive the movie an awful lot.

jbryant said...

While the movie absolutely violates everything that made the original Die Hard great, I thought it was kind of a blast. McClane is at one point compared to a Timex watch in a digital age, but clearly we're also meant to think of the old Timex catchphrase, "Takes a licking and keeps on ticking." After his four previous adventures, McClane probably thinks, with reason, that a higher power's got his back. So damn the torpedoes and "Yippi-ki-ay, motherf'er!" The non-stop action increases in size and intensity until you just cry uncle and enjoy the ride. IMO, of course.

Great Big Radio Guy said...

Do a search for "Sunrise Earth". It's zen cranked to 11.

Also, June 16th, UHD is running a Hogan's Heroes HD marathon starting at 6am.

Welcome to your next encounter with high technology.

The Milner Coupe said...

Nah, I don't know what these other guys are talking about. You are right Levine, but it's an insult to shit to be compared to this film.

Maybe next time they could take some of Bruce Willis' paycheck, and hire some 'not retarded' writers. Or even better take all of his paycheck and hire someone else.

Joe said...

Ha!

I was the same way when we finally went HD. I'd be flipping through the channels and if the Peruvian Music Festival was in HD I'd freeze and stare dumbly at the screen marveling at how you could see the individual alpaca fibers in some woman's scarf.

The problem with Bruce Willis is that he doesn't really know what sort of actor he wants to be.

I think he's a natural for TV -- watch his guest turns on Friends above and beyond his work on Moonlighting -- but we're pretty much stuck with him in films.

Although he was pretty cool in Over The Hedge.

Sebastian said...

Uhm, Ken - Remember the scene in Die Harder where he ejected from the C-130 and it blew up because of all the Handgrenades?

You know that Handgrenades don't explode in a fireball, right? And that they needed to ignite the prepped "gasoline" on the runway he exploded the starting, escaping plane with, several times so that it actually simply burned down the runway. Which was covered in the most fake snow since "Out of Sight". Or prior to that.

"Die Hard" has never been logical. This one's no exception. Just go with it. It's super-fun.

Die Hard - With A Vengeance though... crappiest movie ever ;-)

WV: "ungers" - Felix and Oscar before proposition 8.

NotRichard said...

Hercs don't have ejector seats either.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaanywaaaaaaay...

Joe said...

...and the public phones in Washington DC aren't Pac-Bell.

One of the biggest and most unexpected gripes I have about HD is how, suddenly, makeup can't really hide all the flaws in someone's complexion.

"That's a zit! It looks like it has a gallon of DermaBlend, but dammit that's a zit!"

Baseball, incidentally, looks particularly good in HD. We'll see if my Marlins are worth watching after the thrill of determining the thread count of their ballcaps wears off.

Mike McCann said...

Ken,

Which chain or store came up with the idea of "buy a new one, we'll haul away the old one?" BRILLIANT. It's about time that after so many of us bought indestructible Trinitrons in our homes, a company finally gave us the reason to upgrade.
On the other hand, advancing age had a hand in our getting an HD set a year and a half ago -- my wife concluded that a 20" (analog) TV in our bedroom was now too small to comfortably view.
Thus, I was finally empowered to get a bigger set for the bedroom -- that 32" (and 200#) monster sitting in our den. It took three of us to drag and coerce it up the winding steps of my house.
By comparison, the new 40" HD set weights about the same as a bag of groceries. Packed in a rigid carboard box, it practically floated into its new home in the den.

Fitz said...

Re the Miller beer guys ...

"Step aside mon ami" has to be the greatest moment in 21st century advertising. I cannot see that guy without cracking up.

john brown said...

I think the sport that is helped the most by HD is hockey.

David O'Hara said...

Bruce Willis does movies because people pay to see him. I walked out of the first Die Hard because it was crap. And maybe we shouldn't blame the writers - they gave the producers/studios what they wanted. Come to think of it, they gave the audiences what they wanted: the movies made money.

In a way it's very much like politics - we vote the assholes in - don't we? They are a reflection of our own low standards. That's how we get the Nixons, Gores, Clintons, Johnsons, Bushes, most of the mayors of Chicago...

WV: duraw - to be amazed for an extended period of time. (In a way it's very much like our politics)

Frasier Fan said...

I just got an HD TV a few weeks ago. Unlike you though, I wanted it NOW so I went to the store and brought it home myself. Thus, did not have the luxary of having someone haul the old one away. Guess where that old one is? Still sitting in the entertainment center while the new TV is ON TOP of the entertainment center!

Anyway, the two greatest things I've watched in HD thus far are baseball and The Deadliest Catch. It looks even colder and more miserable in HD!

As for Live Free or Die Hard, my friends and I were just talking about this movie on Sunday afternoon. We were discussing that it was outrageous and ridiculous even for a Die Hard movie! I still didn't hate it though as it amused me.

Grant said...

I was going to see that movie in the theater, but then I saw that it was PG-13! A PG-13 "Die Hard" movie? I guess they were worried about all the fans that saw "Die Hard 3" in 1995 when they were two. That to me was a strong indicator that the movie wasn't going to have any heart. That it was just to cash in.

Anonymous said...

Yes, LIVE FREE: DIE HARD is over the top, but there is one great line that still makes me laugh:

John McClane: Mai? Oh yeah, the scrawny little Asian chick, likes to kick people? I don't think she's going to be talking to anyone for a very long time. Last time I saw her, she was at the bottom of an elevator shaft with an SUV rammed up her ass.

blogward said...

Not only is LFODH a crap movie, it displays a very unhealthy attitude towards women, which may explain the rating.

wv: bless - couldn't have said it better myself.

emily said...

Here in Florida, Habitat for Humanity was happy to pick up my two analog TVs (for resale in their thrift store).

John said...

It took two cases of beer to motivate enough people to get my vintage RCA ColorTrack down the stairs and out of the house two weeks ago, to be replaced by the new 46-inch Toshiba (though not to worry about the future hernia problems; While the Toshiba's light enough for one person to carry -- as long as they have arms like a orangutan -- the new console with the glass shelves and the supporting post the TV is mounted on more than makes up for the weight difference). But I'm still trying to put together the wiring diagram between the TV, receiver and all the other devices that are now plugged into and/or around the new set.

And as far as, "The stunts were so off-the-charts absurd that a Road Runner cartoon was stark realism by comparison," goes, we hit that point at least by Die Hard II, when the plane is ignited by having the flame go up the trail of leaking jet fuel and to the plane THAT IS ALREADY IN THE SKY! At least when Yosemite Sam was being chased by some flammable threat from a gunpowder trail ignited by Bugs, the damn stuff was lying on the ground.

Anonymous said...

Isn't HD like cell phones? Once you get 'em, you don't how you lived without them.

I particularly like Golf on HD and for some weird reason The Young and the Restless. Man, that's some good HD albeit with horrific writing.

Do you notice how some networks have better HD than others? Through my cable provider CBS seems to have the best HD.

Anonymous said...

Ken, Can't believe you waited so long? I went to Ken Crane's in Encino they sent over two burly guys installed it and took my Sony tube away…two years ago!

I owe my new found sobriety to HD. There is not a bar in town that can offer better sports action than on my 50'' plasma. Lazy boy chair and a diet coke keep me plenty busy.

Take note: Ch 9 HD is superior to the FSN prime Ticket HD. Yes soon your eyes will detect the Dodger subtleties.

Bruce Willis blows no matter how you look at him.

B

bcelaya said...

Geez, I kinda consider myself a movie snob, but I watched LFODH this weekend on HBO as well, and I thought it was a really fun movie. Unrealistic? Of course. Illogical? Absolutely. But so are Roadrunner cartoons and I like them too. When Bruce Willis jumps out of that car that then knocks the helicoptor out of the sky- how fast must that car have been travelling and how in the world could anyone walk away from having jumped out? Who cares, it was a ballsy and spetacular stunt, never mind trying to nail its veracity. And by the way, it's a great movie to enjoy your HD set with.

Ken, your gripes remind me of Roger Ebert's review of "Benjamin Button"- he couldn't enjoy the yarn, the romantic love story, the adventure- he was all in a tangle trying to rectify the time thing- you know, "if you're born old and get younger, do you forget your life over time or learn new things?"- that kind of logic analism that, if taken too literal, will ruin a whole lot of movies that otherwise make for great escapism. Lighten up.

Bill Reed said...

The balder Bruce Willis gets, the more invincible he becomes. I enjoyed Die Hard 4 for that alone.

A. Buck Short said...

Or he could starve death on the roof as I nearly did twisting the antenna millimeter by millimeter as I did for just under 17 hours, trying to accomodate the only converter box RadioShack stocks. Not that anybody asked, but Channel 4 comes in crystal clear, as long as you don't care about seeing anything on 21 or 33.......and, of course, visa versa. It's enough to make a family take up reading again.

Stay said...

I remember seeing "LF or Die Hard". I couldn't tell if it was MEANT to be over-the-top and ludicrous, which would mean that the creators had done everything they wanted to and it was brilliant, OR if it was all meant to be taken seriously. In which case...*snrrrrk*. I still thought it was a lot of fun. I'm choosing to believe that it's SUPPOSED to be goofy like that. It's gotta be. Right?

thevidiot said...

Congrats on the HD Screen! I remember my big color TV moment - I was at my Aunt's place and- wait! You mean those credits at the end of "Camp Runamuck" are yellow? Wow! I never thought that they could be anything but white! What a revelation! You know, I've never used yellow for credits in my 25 year career! Coincidence? I think not!

thevidiot said...

Oh! And I dropped the XL-100 on my foot in April of last year, moving it to make room for the Samsung panel. Still have no left big toenail. The price I pay for TV!

LouOCNY said...

Also, June 16th, UHD is running a Hogan's Heroes HD marathon starting at 6am.

Hate to say this, but UHD shows a Hogan's marathon EVERY Monday - about six episodes back to back - then it REPEATS! And also hate (sort of) to say - it looks fucking fantastic! The first couple of seasons especially looks better than 99.99% of the crap Hollywood makes today. Last week they showed the original b&w pilot, and damned if it didn't look as good as STALAG 13 - and was actually subtle and funny.

We bought both of our HD sets online - and I had both of them out of the box and installed in less than an hour - the HDML cables are the best thing in electronics - one line for EVERYthing - audio and video, no trying to match cable colors. etc.

Hope you bought a decent DVD player to go with your new set!

Cory Casciato said...

I just found you about a week ago and I have to say, I love this blog. I need to finish your archives so I can finally get some real work done.

P.S. Another fantastically funny post. Thanks.

Vermonter17032 said...

Hmmmm. What to make of all the folks who call the Die Hard movies crap? The first Die Hard was excellent -- if you like ultra-action films. If you don't, you don't, but that film was not crap. The second and third films were pretty pale in comparison, but the recent one isn't so bad. Of course John McClane is going to be banged around like a pinata full of candy at Roseanne's birthday party, but that's the nature of the franchise. If you don't want to see that, if you think its unrealism ruins the experience, don't watch. I mean, you were expecting an Errol Morris documentary or something?

And the slams on Bruce Willis are also silly. Okay, you may not like the types of movies he makes, but he does a good job in them. He does what he's paid to do, and some of us like watching. I'd watch an aging Bruce Willis over Shia LaBeouf any day. But that's just me.

blogward said...

I don't have a problem with OTT stunts, Bruce Willis' age, or the Die Hard franchise in general. LFoDH has a tension-free story (which is why people snark at the far-fetchedness) and the Mexican standoff ending is the weakest part of it, not least because John MacLane doesn't prevail singlehanded, as he did in the other DH movies.

WV: derize = to criticize people indirectly by attacking something you imply that they did.

deebee said...

Ahh, yes, the Sony. A few years ago I purchased a PVR and discovered that 16:9 doesn't work so well on a 4:3 TV. Doing my research, these was a lot of opinion saying that the Sony 36" tube TV was the best picture (reasonable) money could buy - Google KVR36M31 for more information if you're interested.

Finally bought a second hand unit knowing it weighed 100kgs and...having had to shift it a couple of times I can testify to its back breaking prowess. The best thing is that the TV was theft proof - anyone who tried to steal it would be found trapped underneath the high definition monstrosity.

WV = Oveys (the opposite of undies)

foobella said...

"Sony, the one and only"