Die Hard: Ultimate Collection (Die Hard / Die Hard 2: Die Harder / Die Hard: With a Vengeance / Live Free or Die Hard)
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Lt. John McClane doesn't go looking for trouble, but he always manages to find it anyway, whether it's in an office building, an airplane, or the streets of New York City. Each title contains two discs loaded with special features.
Die Hard is the movie franchise that made a movie star out of TV star Bruce Willis, and created an entire action-movie genre of its own. In the original 1988 film, Willis plays wisecracking New York cop John McClane, who arrives at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles to meet up with his estranged wife, Holly (Bonny Bedelia), at her office Christmas party. As luck would have it, the company ends up in the middle of a terrorist plot led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his gang of expert killers, and with little help coming from outside, McClane has to pick off his enemies one by one. Thus was born the "Die Hard genre," epitomized by such films as Under Siege ("Die Hard on a ship"), Passenger 57 ("Die Hard on a plane"), Speed ("Die Hard on a bus"), and Cliffhanger ("Die Hard on a mountain"). But few measure up to the explosive brilliance of Die Hard. Director John McTiernan develops the action at a fast and furious pace, culminating in some fantastic set-pieces on the top of the building, in the elevator shaft, and in the building's outer plaza. Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza's script, based on Roderick Thorp's novel Nothing Lasts Forever, is smart, funny, and full of memorable lines (among them "Welcome to the party, pal!" and of course "Yippee ki-ay, motherf*****"), and the cast is perfection, especially Rickman as the cunningly evil villain, and Willis, whose McClane character--bloodied, beaten, bruised, and barely breathing, as he battles both bad guys and bureaucrats--is someone audiences could genuinely cheer for.
Directed by Renny Harlin, the 1990 sequel, Die Hard 2 (unofficially referred to as Die Harder), doesn't match the level of the original, but it's still an exciting thrill ride with some terrific action sequences. One year after the Nakatomi incident, McClane (Willis) is awaiting his wife's (Bedelia) plane to arrive at Dulles Airport when he stumbles onto a plot to paralyze the entire airport, including all the planes trying to land. It's up to McClane to take on the cadre of bad guys despite all the bureaucrats standing in his way, and before the planes run out of fuel and crash to the ground. The cast includes William Sadler as rogue military man Col. Stuart, Dennis Franz as the latest bureaucratic cop to get in McClane's way, Richard Thornburg as the annoying reporter from the original movie, John Amos as a special-forces commander, early-in-their-career John Leguizamo and Robert Patrick as terrorists, and future politician and Law and Order actor Fred Thompson as the head of air traffic control.
The third film in the series, Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995), was again directed by John McTiernan and uses a different concept. The villain (played by Jeremy Irons) claims to have planted bombs all over New York City and gives John McClane (Willis), now alchoholic and separated, a series of clues to try to track them down. Along the way, he's aided by, and eventually teams up with, a Harlem shopkeeper named Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson). The interplay between Willis and Jackson is engaging, but better suited to the Lethal Weapon franchise it was previously considered for, and not till the end does the movie return to the familiar McClane-vs.-villains-showdown format.
Twelve years after Die Hard with a Vengeance, the third and previous film in the Die Hard franchise, Live Free or Die Hard finds John McClane (Bruce Willis) a few years older, not any happier, and just as kick-ass as ever. Right after he has a fight with his college-age daughter (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a call comes in to pick up a hacker (Justin Long, a.k.a. the "Apple guy") who might help the FBI learn something about a brief security blip in their systems. Now any Die Hard fan knows that this is when the assassins with foreign accents and high-powered weaponry show up, telling McClane that once again he's stumbled into an assignment that's anything but routine. Once that wreckage has cleared, it is revealed that the hacker is only one of many hackers who are being targeted for extermination after they helped set up a "fire sale," a three-pronged cyberattack designed to bring down the entire country by crippling its transportation, finances, and utilities. That plan is now being put into action by a mysterious team (Timothy Olyphant, Deadwood, and Maggie Q, Mission: Impossible 3) that seems to be operating under the government's noses. Live Free or Die Hard uses some of the cat-and-mouse elements of Die Hard with a Vengeance along with some of the pick-'em-off-one-by-one elements of the now-classic original movie. And it's the most consistently enjoyable installment of the franchise since the original, with eye-popping stunts (directed by Len Wiseman of the Underworld franchise), good humor, and Willis's ability to toss off a quip while barely alive. There was some controversy over the film's PG-13 rating--there might be less blood than usual, and McClane's famous tag line is somewhat obscured--but there's still has plenty of action and a high body count. Yippee-ki-ay! --David Horiuchi
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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.
Since I already like these movies (as probably most people here) I won't go into the content of the movies. Besides, there are plenty of true movie reviews available on actual movie review sites. I will rate the product (movies as well as format and quality) I received.
This "boxed" set is exactly that...a cardboard boxed set with a pull-out DVD holder. It is firm quality (strong) cardboard with smooth coated inserts for the DVDs. The movies are a pretty good transfer considering the age of the originals. The sound quality really enhances the enjoyment of these movies.
Overall, I am very happy having these movies on Blu-ray in my collection. I don't think you will be disappointed either especially if you already like Die Hard.
Although I love these movies, I rate the entire product only 4 stars because it's not perfect and does not have as much "extra" information as I had hoped. Also, oddly, these DVDs do not resume play where I left off if I turn my DVD player off and then back on again while the disc is in the tray.
I love Bruce Willis he's a great actor and I'm glad to see he's in all the Die Hard Movies it would not be the same without him.
You can't go wrong with the Die Hard series great action movies.
I also have a VUDU & Flixster Acct which are linked together, so I converted these Blue Ray Dics to Digital for $2.00 each now I own them on VUDU & Flixster.
I have Flixster on all my devices WP8.,Desktop, Tablet, Laptop, VUDU App on all my TV'S, Blue Ray players now I can watch it anywhere anytime.
Plus I recorded the 1st 3 from DTV Starz and Encore.
The only thing wrong with this set is it was missing it's a good day to Die Hard.