– The Movie Itself (has an average rating of 7.7 on IMDb)
– Video Quality (1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc)
– Audio Quality (DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio)
– Bonus Materials (include a Game & DVD ports)
– 129 minutes
Buy it for $27.95 @ Amazon.com
The Movie Itself comes from director Len Wiseman (most known for the Underworld films) and finds our favorite action hero John McClane (Bruce Willis) back in form kicking some major ass while dodging many bullets all while saving the world. This time around McClane finds himself teaming with an unlike partner in Matthew Farrell (Justin Long), a hacker who didn’t realize he was working with a known terrorist Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant). As the film begins, Gabriel assassinates a bunch of hackers instead of being paid for their collaborations. McClane is sent by the FBI to collect Farrell and bring him into protective custody. Naturally this wouldn’t be a Die Hard film if a bunch of people didn’t “try” to kill McClane. Of course they fail, and McClane is able to bring Farrell into custody but not before we learn what Gabriel is up to. Turns out that Gabriel’s goal is to create a “fire sale” (ie everything must go). The only catch is what must “go is pretty much everything we rely on daily in computers, the stock market, utilities and what not. It’s now up to McClane and his unlike partner to stop Gabriel before the country is thrown into a jumble that it can’t recover from. What we soon find is an all around fun film that deals with a rather convincing issue.
What makes the Die Hard films so interesting is simply that the films always deal with a topic that is rather pressing. The first film dealt with a terrorists taking over an office building, the second dealt with a bomb on a plane, the third dealt with a bomb in a school, while this fourth deals with the shutdown of the country. The films are always successful in pitting John McClane as that every-day joe schmoe cop who wants nothing more than to go home and go to bed (as evidence in the third film). Instead McClane is thrown into action and this is always where the films turn from somewhat enjoyable to downright pure fun. This fourth film, based on an article by John Carlin for the magazine Wired entitled “A Farewell to Arms, is probably the most pressing problem the series has ever tackled. The concepts that the first three films dealt with are common today, but the issue this film tackles is downright scary and terrifying. Just imagine if for ONE HOUR the country was taken down in the manners shown in this film. Imagine the amount of damage that would be done.
According to IMDb, “Live Free or Die Hard” has the second highest critical approval of the four “Die Hard” films. This makes perfect sense as this film was an all around great film with enough action, suspense, humor and intelligence to keep any viewer entertained for its running length. Even though it would have been nice if FOX had decided to present the Unrated cut here Blu-Ray, this PG-13 cut is still satisfying enough.
Video Quality on this release is 1080p AVC MPEG-4 on a BD-50 Dual-Layered Disc. Considering that Live Free or Die Hard was one of Fox’s biggest hits this summer (besides The Simpsons Movie), it came as no surprise that they pulled out all stops for this transfer. Just about everything is PERFECT. Particularly a huge positive was how the film’s transfer dealt with the mass abundance of the blacks and darker sequences in the film. I feared that all these darker sequences might result in a loss of detail. Luckily the detail was immaculate with many, many images giving us that 3-D popping image that we’ve come to expect from HDM. Fleshtones were also quite impressive. Considering that Willis is aging, I wondered how hi-def would treat everything. Nothing to fear here though as every last little wrinkle and pore is excellently shown here. The only possible negative here is that some of the colors, minus the aforementioned blacks, tended to smear together on my XBR4 creating a kind of wacky look to some of the shots. Otherwise from this, this transfer was great and I can’t wait to see how FOX will handle some of their up-and-coming catalog titles.
Audio Quality on this release is in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and Dolby Digital 5.1 @640kbps. Take a second and think to yourself as good as the video is, the audio, not surprisingly, is even better. As I thought that everything was PERFECT about the video, everything IS PERFECT about this aural experience. Surrounds are continuously active giving us every last gun shot, screeching vehicle and explosion. One of the most impressive aspects I found here was that the bass, especially when one compares it to the other Die Hard films available now, is just about defining here. The bass, coming from my V20 setup, is incredibly deep and powerful. I commented in my “Prison Break – Season One” review that the bass literally shook my table. Well at a 50/100 volume set-up, my table literally moved with this one folks. Dialogue is rendered intelligible never becoming distorted or difficult to understand, which was quite the shock as I figured as active as this one was going to be, some of the dialogue HAD to be hard to hear. I have to congratulate FOX on the audio on “Live Free or Die Hard.” 5 Star Rating all the way for this release.
- Commentary by Bruce Willis, director Len Wiseman and editor Nicholas De Toth: I typically find that most commentary tracks are downright boring with many instances of inactivity. Imagine my surprise after hearing this one. All the participants presented a lively, informative and fun commentary giving us tons of information ranging from production, casting to their favorite sequences.
- FOX Movie Channel presents: FOX LEGACY: YAWN! As interesting as the features have been so far, this was just a promotional piece of fluff that advertised the previous 3 films.
- Black Hat Intercept Game: When FOX first presented us this game at the recent Blu-Ray Festival, I thought the game looked interesting enough as it appeared to borrow from Metal Gear Solid. The basic premise has us follow Kevin Smith’s character as you must defuse a bomb by answering a few brain teasers. Unfortunately, this game wasn’t really anything special and felt like a really weak effort from the folks at Fox especially when compared to other hi-def exclusives.
- D-Box: I suppose if more than 50 people actually had a D-Box theater, this might be cool. But I guess FOX is just future-proofing their discs.
- Analog Hero in a Digital World: The Making of Live Free or Die Hard: WOW!!!. Here, presented in 97! minutes, we have the making of the film. Way above your standard making of features, this was a complete blast to watch. Of particular interest was the sheer number of camera angles and scenes were shown in different takes. I thoroughly enjoyed this one as it showed just about every aspect of making a film. I confidently feel that anyone, regardless of interest in the film, will find something to enjoy here.
- Yippee Ki Yay, Mother****** – Bruce Willis and Kevin Smith Interview: Running 23 minutes, this is an interview with Smith and Willis just basically chatting on a pair of steps (at the FOX lot in Hollywood) about the film, the cast and just the overall experience of making the film.
- Music Video from Guyz Nite with the track “Die Hard”: I suppose the song is interesting enough, but I don’t understand the sudden fascination with mixing rock and rap.
- Behind the Scenes with Guyz Nite: See above.
- Trailer: Here we get a few trailers advertising other Fox efforts in full 1080p. Some of the included titles are the “Die Hard” films as well as the up-and-coming “Simpsons Movie.”
Review written by Brendan Surpless