- Apr 24, 2006
- Charlotte, NC
- Real Name
- Matt Hough
Die Hard: 25th Anniversary Collection (Blu-ray) Die Hard/Die Hard 2/Die Hard with a Vengeance/Live Free or Die Hard
Directed by John McTiernan, Renny Harlin, Len Wiseman Studio: 20th Century Fox Year: 1988-2007 Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1/2.40:1 1080p AVC codec Running Time: 132/124/131/129 minutes Rating: R/PG-13 Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 2.0 English, 2.0. 5.1, French, Spanish Subtitles: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Korean
Region: A MSRP: $ 59.99
Release Date: January 29, 2013
Review Date: February 1, 2013
Die Hard – 4.5/5 Estranged from his wife of several years when a lucrative job took her from their Manhattan home to sunny Los Angeles, detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) heads west to spend Christmas with his family. While waiting for his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) to leave an office party at the Nakatomi complex, John is shocked to find the building taken over by seeming terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). Though they appear to be making a political statement, they’re actually thieves there to rob the building of $640 million in negotiable bonds. They can’t carry out their robbery of the firm’s vaults without the participation from the LAPD and the FBI. With McClane the only person not taken hostage by the invaders, he finds himself alone trying to thwart the actions of the twelve mercenaries who are only out to get the bonds and kill him. The script by Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza is the blueprint from which many future action films got their pointers. It’s awash in clever rejoinders, explosive action set pieces, and a central character who’s no superman but merely doing the best he can with the tools at hand. They and director John McTiernan were also wise enough to give their protagonist moments of reflection on his failures as a husband and father including the brilliant masterstroke of having McClane leave a late movie confession of regrets to his wife with kindly, amiable LAPD sergeant Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson), his one friend on the outside who stands up for the wayward cop when all others are against his actions. This emotionally moving lull before the climactic action is a perfect respite for the audience after the thrills and spills of what has come before making the concluding scenes all the more enjoyable. Bruce Willis became a bona fide movie star through his success in this film, and Alan Rickman as the suave but villainous Gruber is his equal in cunning if not in street smarts.
Die Hard 2 – 3.5/5
Stuck in Washington, D.C. to spend Christmas with his in-laws, Lieutenant John McClane (Bruce Willis), now with the LAPD, is waiting at Dulles Airport for the arrival of the plane carrying his wife (Bonnie Bedelia). Terrorists, however, led by the maniacal Colonel Stuart (William Sadler), electronically take over the airport’s communications and air traffic controls in order to allow drug-wealthy dictator General Ramon Esperanza (Franco Nero) a safe arrival in America before they all fly off to an extradition-free country and spend their millions. With the terrorists threatening to crash incoming planes if their demands aren’t met, John McClane once again finds himself battling a force greater than he with almost no outside help. While the movie has a fair share of thrills and excitement and the requisite number of action set pieces where McClane somehow triumphs over impossible odds, the twists and turns here in the script by Steven E. de Souza and Doug Richardson seem a bit more mechanical and less intrinsic to the story. Though it’s shorter than the original film in the series, it seems far longer due to the many trips through the airport and onto the runways that McClane must traverse battling the villains in a number of different venues. The script manages to build in some twists with personnel (not everyone is who he appears to be), but again these additional characters just seem to overpopulate an already crowded movie. Bruce Willis is still an appealing protagonist even if the writers do allow him a few too many sardonic observances on the unlikelihood of events like these happening to the same person on different Christmas seasons. William Sadler is a worthy adversary even if the two have very little on-screen combat time in the same frame. McClane’s chief thorn in the side this time out is airport security chief Carmine Lorenzo (Dennis Franz) who wears out his feisty, argumentative welcome long before the movie is over.
Die Hard with a Vengeance – 3/5
On a hot summer day in Manhattan, a terrorist calling himself Simon (Jeremy Irons) demands that suspended police lieutenant John McClane (Bruce Willis) participate in a series of mysterious riddles that finds him traveling all over New York City racing the clock to prevent explosions from happening. Unknown to the police, the riddles are only a ruse to get the police out of the Wall Street area so the villains can make off with billions of dollars worth of gold bullion from the Federal Reserve Depository there. By the time McClane with a shop owner (Samuel L. Jackson) dragged into the proceedings as a helpmate figures out what the bad guys are up to, the gold is gone as the bad guys attempt to escape to Canada with their ill-gotten gains. Coincidences and muddled action plague the promising premise of the third movie in the series as McClane and friend are dragged all over the city in wild but eventually tiresome chase scenes inspired by the children’s game “Simon Says.” True, the stunt driving and action scenes set in bustling Manhattan are awesome to behold, and the wrecking of a subway terminal is gasp-inducing. But if McClane’s narrow escapes in previous films were more like flukes, here he begins to take on superhuman abilities of survival that strain credulity. John McTiernan is back to guide this lumbering giant through its paces, but even he can’t streamline the overwrought script by Jonathan Hensleigh. Jeremy Irons is as suavely nasty as Alan Rickman was in the first film (for good reason as the viewer comes to find out), but McClane’s many escapes from certain death don’t seem to frustrate him as they should., and a late in the film sex scene with him and lethal henchwoman Katya (played by Sam Phillips) seems like it comes from another film. Sameul Jackson’s confrontational stance on others’ racism which he is so obviously guilty of himself grows annoying after a time.
Live Free or Die Hard – 4/5
John McClane (Bruce Willis) enters the world of computer hacking when a rogue former governmental computer genius Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) decides to teach his former bosses a lesson by instituting a “Fire Sale,” a computer term for bringing down all computer systems that manage transportation, finance, and utilities. When McClane is dispatched to bring in computer hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long) who had provided Gabriel with part of the code he needed to complete his takedown, both men become targets of Gabriel who must eradicate those who helped him at any cost. McClane is totally lost in the world of cyberspace, but with Farrell to help him, there is the slightest chance he can stop the madman before the government comes tumbling down. For the fourth film in the series, it was a wise idea to put John McClane into a completely alien existence pitting his street-level skills against brain power and the might of the electronic world. The action scenes get more and more outrageous as the film plays (by the time a government fighter jet begins firing missiles at McClane trailing the bad guys in an eighteen-wheeler, you’ll know the film has left the real world), but there is no denying that they’re kinetically exciting and cinematically expert. Director Len Wiseman handles the many confrontations between McClane and the bad guys with a swiftness and fleetness that makes them a pleasure to watch (some remarkably staged and shot stunts inside a tunnel are particularly memorable), and he’s also cast the movie superbly. Justin Long is the epitome of a computer nerd (with his physically polar opposite but mental soul mate twin in Kevin Smith’s Warlock) while Timothy Olyphant makes a beautifully challenging chief villain with his youthful good looks and armed with brain rather than brawn. Maggie Q as his henchwoman Mai and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as McClane’s daughter Lucy add spunk to the film as female characters who are not just pawns in the plot.
Die Hard – 4/5 All of the transfers for the four films in this set are identical to previous releases of the movies on Blu-ray (in fact, they’re the same discs with new labels). The 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio of this film is replicated faithfully in the 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness is pleasing without ever reaching razor-edged crispness, and some outside long shots are softer and less distinct. Color saturation is well controlled throughout though flesh tones vary from realistic to a touch on the rosy side. Black levels are adequate but not at their inkiest. The film has been divided into 55 chapters.
Die Hard 2 – 4/5
Again, the 2.35:1 1080p AVC-encoded transfer looks good but never quite great. Contrast is sometimes milkier than it should be though there are fewer soft shots than in the first film. Flesh tones are more consistent this time out, too, but black levels aren’t noticeably improved from the first transfer. The film has been divided into 40 chapters.
Die Hard with a Vengeance – 4.5/5 Always an eyesore on DVD with its artificially sharpened, edge-enhanced horrors, the 2.35:1 AVC-encoded Blu-ray transfer is leagues improved from the low resolution releases. Sharpness is far more natural and appealing now with little if any edge enhancement. Flesh tones still fluctuate from natural to overly rosy, and black levels are slightly improved from the previous releases. The film has been divided into 40 chapters.
Live Free or Die Hard – 5/5
Die Hard comes to the 21st century in a gorgeous 1080p AVC-encoded transfer matching the film’s 2.40:1 aspect ratio. This is the sharpest and most precise of the four transfers with loads of detail in the images and color handsomely maintained. Flesh tones vary only when the inside and outside lighting varies, and black levels are deliciously inky with excellent shadow detail. The movie has been divided into 36 chapters.
Die Hard – 4/5 The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix does not have the power of more recent action movie soundtracks. For its day, of course, the mix was impressive. There is a decent number of split effects placed through the fronts and rears though bass levels are never as deep as you’ll find in more recent transfers. Michael Kamen’s music is driving and gets the job done without much distinction, but it’s been given attention throughout the soundfield. Dialogue has been well recorded and can be found in the center channel.
Die Hard 2 – 4/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix marks a slight advancement in surround envelopment from the track of the original transfer. There are more split effects present, and there is some impressive panning through the soundstage during jet landings. The many explosions in the film have possibly a bit more heft than in the previous transfer but are still less impressive than in more recent action films. Michael Kamen’s music once again gets a nice spread through the soundstage. Dialogue has been wonderfully recorded and has been placed in the center channel.
Die Hard with a Vengeance – 4.5/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix represents another step toward more modern movie action soundtracks with greater impact in the bass levels and more use of the surrounds for plenty of split effects and pans across and through the soundstage especially during several of the wild car chases that dot the story. Michael Kamen’s music once again gets a fine spread in the fronts and rears while dialogue is easily discernible and can be found in the center channel.
Live Free or Die Hard – 5/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix has the body and impact that modern action movie soundtracks should have. There are lots of pans across and through the soundstage during chases and excursions on land and in the air, and split effects are otherwise constantly present in this very active sound mix. Marco Beltrami’s music gets terrific spread through the fronts and rears, and dialogue sounds natural always and has been firmly rooted to the center channel.
Die Hard – 3/5 The disc offers two commentary tracks. The first is an edited track featuring director John McTiernan and production designer Jackson DeGovia. The second features special effects supervisor Richard Edlund commenting in ten selected chapters of the film (which are in the menu and can be selected separately). Fans of the film will want to hear the anecdotes of all these men whose work made the film so distinctive. The viewer may select up to ten chapters of the film as favorite choices to watch without going through the entire movie. The newscasts which appear in the film are offered in raw footage form (with outtakes) that runs 8 minutes in 480i. An interactive stills gallery features sketches, blueprints, stills, and portraits from the film in a slide show format that runs 9 ½ minutes. During the montage, the viewer is allowed to branch off into other choices where additional drawings and even deleted scenes can be found. The disc offers three theatrical trailers and four TV spots which can be watched all at once or selected separately. They’re in 480i.
Die Hard 2 – 3.5/5
The audio commentary is by director Renny Harlin. He offers a thorough exploration of his work on the movie (but without great enthusiasm) and speaks consistently if with a few lapses. The viewer may select up to ten chapters of the film as favorite choices to watch without going through the entire movie. All of the bonus material is offered in 480i. There are four deleted scenes which can be watched individually or in one 8 ¼ minute grouping. “HBO First Look: Die Hard 2” is a 23 ¼-minute behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film featuring brief interviews with director Renny Harlin, co-stars Bruce Willis, William Sadler, and Dennis Franz, and discussions about the eight different locations used to simulate Washington with comments from the movie’s production designer, special effects and stunt coordinators. An EPK featurette repeats sound bites from the above HBO featurette with the same speakers and also comments from co-star John Amos. It runs 4 ¼ minutes. “The Bad Guys” concentrates its 6 ¾ minutes on William Sadler, Franco Nero, and John Amos’ characters with additional comments about the movie’s villains from Bruce Willis and director Renny Harlin. “Breaking the Ice” details the action chase scene on snowmobiles as we see behind-the-scenes activity staging and the shooting the action. It runs 4 ¼ minutes. “Chaos on the Conveyor Belt” focuses on the airport baggage area fight scene with Renny Harlin, the film’s stunt coordinator, and actors rehearsing and shooting the scene. It runs 7 ¾ minutes. A brief interview with director Renny Harlin [color= black; font-family: "Times New Roman"; font-size: 12pt; mso-fareast-font-family: "Times New Roman"; mso-font-kerning: 14.0pt; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;]also features comments from cast and crew who express enjoyment with their working relationship. It runs 6 ¾ minutes.[/color] Three sequences involving special effects are broken [font=" times new roman;"][color= black;]down[/color] into storyboards, separate scene filming, and compositing them together into the finished sequence. The ejector seat scene lasts 3 ¼ minutes. The airport runway runs 2 minutes. The annex sequence runs 3 minutes.[/font] Three side-by-side sequences [color= black; font-family: "Times New Roman"; font-size: 12pt; mso-fareast-font-family: "Times New Roman"; mso-font-kerning: 14.0pt; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;]showing behind-the-scenes shooting of a scene next to its finished look in the completed film may be chosen. They are the chopper scene (1 ¼ minutes), the airplane models (3 ¼ minutes), and the wing fight (1 ¾ minutes).[/color] There are four theatrical trailers and two TV spot ads which may be watched separately or in one 6 ¼ minute montage.
Die Hard with a Vengeance – 4/5 The audio commentary is once again an edited compilation featuring director John McTiernan and screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh. It’s a very interesting track with Hensleigh’s comments especially fascinating since the script was originally written as a non-Die Hard movie which he then had to adapt to suit the franchise. Well worth a listen. All of the bonus features are in 480i. The alternate ending runs 6 minutes and was wisely discarded in favor of the current ending. There is optional commentary from director John McTiernan. “HBO First Look” is hosted by actor Reginald VelJohnson (who doesn’t appear in the movie but does swap talk with Samuel L. Jackson in this featurette). Running 21 ¾ minutes, it provides brief looks and information about the new film while also reminding viewers about some of the highlights of the previous two films in the series. About half the feature focuses on various stunts performed in the movie. “CBS: A Night to Die For” is a 21 ½-minute special featuring Samuel L. Jackson as the host introducing viewers to the new film and offering sound bites from a number of celebrities in entertainment, sports, and the headlines who celebrate the franchise. It concentrates a good chunk of running time to showing the behind-the-scenes work on the subway explosion sequence in the picture. An EPK featurette for the movie cuts and pasts sound bites heard in the previous specials into a 4 ¼-minute puff piece. An interview with Bruce Willis about his approach to the role of John McClane runs 6 ¼ minutes. Also commenting are director John McTiernan and Samuel L. Jackson. “Villains of Vengeance” features Jeremy Irons talking about his character of Simon for 4 ½ minutes. A storyboard-to-finished scene vignette focuses on the aqueduct chase scene for 2 ¼ minutes. Three special effects breakdown sequences show the preparation, staging, and shooting of three different scenes in the film: the bombing of Bonwits (7 ¾ minutes), the Central Park chase scene (10 ½ minutes), and the subway explosion (8 ¾ minutes). There are six side-by-side special effects comparisons showing filming pieces of footage that are then composited together for a finished shot. There are two theatrical trailers and five TV spots which can be viewed separately or in one 9 minute grouping.
Live Free or Die Hard – 4.5/5 The audio commentary is a team effort with star Bruce Willis, director Len Wiseman, and film editor Nicolas de Toth. While Willis does less talking than the other two, it’s a relatively fun listen that fans will enjoy hearing. Unless noted, the bonus material is in 480i. A Black Hat Intercept game is available for playing. “An Analong Man in a Digital World” is one of the most thorough making-of documentaries yet produced. This 97 ¼-minute feature deals with every possible aspect of the production from its original premise though casting, filming with all important departments discussing their work (stunts, special effects, editing, music, sound, color timing) weighing in. Along the way, director Len Wiseman and co-stars Bruce Willis, Maggie Q, Justin Long, Kevin Smith, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead add comments. “Yippee Ki Yay, Motherf…er” is an entertaining 22 ¾-minute conversation between Bruce Willis and Kevin Smith about his memories of all of the Die Hard films and his particular appreciation for this particular one coming back to the character after more than a decade away. The “Die Hard” music video by Guyz Nite runs for 4 ½ minutes. A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the video runs 5 ¾ minutes. The theatrical trailer runs for 2 ¼ minutes in 1080p. “The Fox Movie Channel Presents Fox Legacy” is a 6 ¼-minute paean to the character of John McClane and the actor Bruce Willis by host Tom Rothman. The disc offers promo trailers for The Simpsons Movie and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.
Bonus Disc – Decoding Die Hard
All of the featurettes are presented in 1080p. “Origins” discusses the beginnings of the character of John McClane involved in an action story with talking head interviews featuring producer Joel Silver, writer Jeb Stuart, and director John McTiernan. Then, his evolution through the second, third, and fourth movies in the franchise features directors Renny Harlin and Len Wiseman plus the writers of each of those films. It runs 19 ½ minutes. “John McClane: Modern-Day Hero” deconstructs the character of McClane in this 16 ½-minute piece with interviews featuring producer of the first two films Joel Silver, the directors of the four movies along with Reginald VelJohnson, Jeremy Irons, Kevin Smith, William Sadler, and Alan Rickman. “Villains: Bad to the Bone” features interviews with bad guy actors played by William Sadler, Jeremy Irons, and Alan Rickman discussing how their roles were crafted to suit the tone of each film in this 20 ¾-minute piece. “Sidekicks: Along for the Ride” has fun interviews with Reginald VelJohnson, De'voreaux White (who played Argyle in the first film), Hart Bochner (Ellis in the first film), William Atherton (Thornberg in the first two films), Kevin Smith, and Justin Long along with discussions of other characters actors who played key supporting roles in the movies. This runs 19 ¼ minutes. “Punishing Blows” concentrates on the fights sequences in each of the four movies and features interviews with the stunt coordinators for each film along with the films’ directors, the special effects coordinators, and the costume designers who discuss their work in making the fights seem real. It runs 7 ½ minutes. “Action Sequences: Explosive Effects” concentrates on the explosions with fire and water that dot each of the four films and features interviews with the films’ directors, the special effects coordinators, the films’ cinematographers, productions designers, and film editors. It runs 14 ¾ minutes. “The Legacy of Die Hard” features members of the casts and crews of each of the four films extolling the virtues of the truly original first film and their pride in having been a small part of the Die Hard family. This runs 9 minutes. Theatrical trailers for each film plus a trailer for the upcoming A Good Day to Die Hard (opening February 14th) are presented either separately or in one 8 ¾-minute chunk. [A Note on Packaging] The films are housed in a book-like holder with the discs occupying individual sleeves of the book. It’s difficult to get the discs out without adding some fingerprints to the discs and possibly scratches as they slide our of the pages, but the set is very compact in size and occupies far less space on the shelf than four individual cases.
4/5 (not an average) Those who have previously purchased the Die Hard films will have no new transfers with this set. There is a new disc of bonus features featuring retrospectives of the franchise’s many memorable moments, but unless one is a completist, the new bonus disc adds little to the bonus material already in existence. However, the films’ entertainment value is priceless; it’s one of the great Hollywood action franchises. Recommended for first timers! Matt Hough Charlotte, NC