Local critics pan new 'Die Hard,' attracted to 'Beautiful Creatures'

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With Valentine's Day upon us and a date night on the horizon for many couples, film studios are banking on extra business and opening most of their new releases on Thursday this week.

Among the new films is "A Good Day to Die Hard," the fifth in action star Bruce Willis' "Die Hard" series.

Colin Covert in his Star Tribune review was underwhelmed by the new installment, which finds John McClane traveling to Russia to help out his estranged son (Jai Courtney), who is seemingly in deep trouble with the authorities there.

Covert compares the lackluster ambition of the "A Good Day to Die Hard" to the latest James Bond film "Skyfall," noting how "you see the difference between pushing a franchise to riskier, more demanding highs and letting it slide."

Chris Hewitt also slams the film in his Pioneer Press review. On the upside, he said he liked the car chase scenes at the beginning of the film. On the downside, he added, "When you have to go back to the opening minutes of a 'Die Hard' movie to find the highlights, that's a sign it's time for this series to die. Hard."

My take: Without hesitation, I'd say "A Good Day to Die Hard" the worst film in the series. Willis has had one too many bad days as McClane -- and while I never get tired of hearing him quipping "yippee ki yay ...," it's clearly time for this cowboy to ride off quietly into the cinematic sunset.

See the trailer for "A Good Day to Die Hard" below.

Also opening is the supernatural romance thriller "Beautiful Creatures," a star-crossed lovers story about a bold teen (Alden Ehrenreich) in the deep south who falls for an enigmatic new girl in school (Alice Englert) who comes from a long line of Casters (aka witches).

Covert in his Star Tribune review calls the film "a spirited, playfully comic drama" that is "'Twilight's' shrewder, funnier stepsister."

While Hewitt calls the main couple in "Beautiful Creatures" a "bore" in his Pioneer Press review, he does concede that "the stuff surrounding them is good for some campy fun."

Hewitt also praises the veteran heavyweights in the cast, including Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis and Emma Thompson, who plays two roles in the film.

My take: In the wake of "The Twilight Saga," the teen target audience will easily be enchanted by the film, which has a fine mix of humor, drama, supernatural thrills and thought-provoking questions about prejudice. The biggest appeal for adults will be the established actors in the cast, who show their younger co-stars a thing or two about casting a spell on the audience.

See the trailer for "Beautiful Creatures" below.

Another film opening is the big-screen adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks' novel "Safe Haven," starring Julianne Hough as a fugitive from the law who falls for a widowed father on the Carolina coast -- a film that adds crime thriller elements to the author's usual brand of romance.

Covert in his Star Tribune review wasn't impressed by the departure, saying "you feel a strange disconnect between what is happening with the characters and what is happening in the plot" and that the film is "figurative and literal overkill."

Hewitt in his Pioneer Press review hoped for something other than the obvious conclusion of the film, but didn't get it.

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