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Die Hard 25th Anniversary Collection on Blu Ray
on April 19, 2013
Tons of plot summaries and opinions on which movies were better than the others to be found elsewhere so I just provide reviews of the quality of the transfers from SD to the Blu Ray editions found in this collection. I have the SD collection of these but no previous BR versions so this will not be a side by side comparison. Before I continue, this review is for the 25th Anniversary Collection on Blu Ray. Amazon mixes up so many of the collections and formats one might not know which review is for which. There will be some, I am sure, who will perhaps disagree with some of my evaluations, however, disagreements can sometimes be created simply based upon the monitor and theater system that one uses. My home theater is fairly esoteric and of very high quality, glad I bought it when I still had a job.
Packaging: Book type of disc holder which certainly takes up less room on your shelf. Unfortunately, the pages each separate disc goes into are made of smooth cardboard. Be careful so as not to scratch the disc in any way. While the front page is indented from the back making it a touch easier for you to grab a hold of the disc's edge rather than use thumb and forefinger to grab the playing surface, I still do not like this type of packaging. It is not as horrible as the Raiders of the Lost Arc collection or the even worse, Clint Eastwood 35 Films, 35 Years collection, but this type of packaging is far from ideal.
Die Hard..the original movie in blu ray boasts an excellent video transfer despite a lower Mbps average than the other films. There is a sharp focus and strong contrast in the transfer and no appreciable grain that you would really notice. Colors are realistic and details, even in the darker areas, have depth to them. I did not notice any real digital noise reduction so there were no halos or artificial smoothness to the skin.
The lossless DTS MA HD5.1 audio is clear and easy to understand and, once set, you will not need to adjust your remote's volume. There was an excellent audio spread across the front stage with good panning across the front discreet speakers. The rear channels were kept mostly for ambience audio with minimum use of the rears for discreet directionality. The sub for Die Hard does get its workout however.
For 'Die Hard', the video is the winner.
Die Hard 2: Die Harder...While it is unimportant, this has remained my least favorite of the series tho I have yet to see the latest Die Hard 5 released in 2012. Die Hard 2, despite a Mbps average in the high 20's-low 30's, comes in with a good video transfer but not great. The imaging appears soft to me with grain throughout most of the movie. This grain appears in the light scenes as well as the great many darker scenes. The whole video seemed soft to me and the color grading overly golden or orange/red.
The lossless DTSMA HD5.1 Audio is definitely the star with excellent use of the entire front and rear sound stages when appropriate. There is a goodly amount of discreet channeling to all speakers in your home theater including your LFE channel. All audio levels appeared to be spot on. I wish they had put as much effort into the video transfer of this second Die Hard as they seemed to have put in the first version.
Extras include deleted scenes, multiple languages, several featurettes, trailers and commentary. Perhaps, if they had put fewer previews of other films, the video transfer would have been sharper.
Die Hard With A Vengeance..
The Video transfer is really quite good with perfectly normal and natural skin tones and a great contrast. Color grading appeared very realistic and the only artificiality I could see was when the water was rushing through the pipes with John Mclain racing backwards in the truck. This may be simply because that was the best animating technology they had at the time. There was no appreciable grain, artifacts or any issue with the transfer to Blu Ray. Great job here.
Audio: However, the video has to be tied with the lossless DTSMA HD5.1 transfer for honors as the audio utilizes your 5.1 system to its fullest with a strong effort from your LFE channel and really excellent use of foley effects in the sides and rears. Often foley volume levels are left too low on Blu Rays but for this film, I felt that they were just right along these lines. Lots of directional audio everywhere and you become fully enveloped in the film's soundtrack. The film retains its legs as did the first in the series. Video and Audio together make for a great film experience.
Aside from the normal commentary, extras include an alternate ending, trailers, and D Box. (Does anyone use the D Box feature?)
"Live Free or Die Hard'....I was ticked off as soon as I put in the Blu Ray as the first thing that came up were two advertisements for two other movies, The Simpsons movie and, well, I already forgot what the 2nd preview was of. The reason this bothers me is that it forces us, the consumer, to pay for ads. These so called previews also take up room on the DVD itself in terms of file size that could go towards lesser compression of the movie itself thus producing a better video image. Very interesting that for the first 3 movies, all 3 had the same exact type of menu interface. Live Free or Die Hard had a completely different menu which was probably the same menu as the original release of the movie on Blu Ray which I do not have. Okay, got that rant out of the way so on to the evaluation of the transfer itself.
VIDEO: In the first 25 minutes of the movie you will see 3 very different color gradings, 1) a somewhat bleach bypassed color grading which can result in a nifty look tho it smooths out skin and reduces details, 2) a very warm, almost antique golden color grading and 3) a cool color grading with frequently crushed blacks which can also reduce small details. These 3 color gradings are shifted back and forth throughout the film. This is not a criticism, but just an observation. For the most part, there was a good amount of detail, sharp contrast and the film, though lightly grained in parts, was completely free of artifacts, stair stepping or any green screen halo effects,
AUDIO: DTS HD MA 5.1 You couldn't ask for a better audio production, it was that good. Okay, maybe you could ask for a better one but the audio on this disc comes pretty darn close. There was excellent use of the side and rear speakers for very discreet audio steering and full experience envelopment. Wonderful panning both across the front stage but the rear as well, and, in addition, excellent panning from front to back. Plenty of foley effects for all speakers. The LFE sub audio helped produce some of the cleanest bottom end I have heard in a long time. When the lights go out on the East coast, each little thump is made both deep and transient without any looming bass resonance. If I had to criticize any audio it would be that I felt as if the music score was unnecessarily loud covering over many superb foley effects. The score simply wasn't that necessary, but I guess the editors disagree with me. Never the less, the audio comes out a total winner in my book.
Extras include the typical commentary but also a nice interview with Bruce on the studio lot somewhere. The interviewer did more talking than Bruce but it was a good and honest interview.
Bonus Disc: Can't honestly say I watched each and every extra on here but the extras include short documentaries on The Modern Day Hero, how they created many of the special fx, different fighting moves, some silly Die Hard game and more.
As I said previously, I do have the Standard Def collection but am satisfied that this Blu Ray collection is a worthy addition to the collection and not a total ripoff.
All my reviews focus only upon the quality of the transfer to Blu Ray and do not summarize the story lines. I do hope that you were able to find this review of some help to you in deciding upon your purchase.