A Blu-ray Review: Live Free or Die Hard (20th Century Fox) - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 1 Old 11-24-07, 03:52 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2007
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A Blu-ray Review: Live Free or Die Hard (20th Century Fox)

"That's gonna wake the neighbors..."

What is going on with some of these iconic Hollywood guys? First we had Stallone in Rocky Balboa as an arthritic return-to-the-ring-to-rid-himself-of-those-demons-again Italian Stallion, and next up seems to be a new Rambo he is actually working on....inbetween, we had Bruce Willis attempting to breathe new life into the John McClaine Die Hard franchise after he went out with a bang in 1995's With a Vengeance with this latest installment actually based on a book, Live Free or Die Hard....now, don't get me wrong -- I grew to accept and maybe even like Rocky Balboa after absolutely hating it theatrically, understanding what Stallone was going for in terms of closure (hopefully) for the series, and I actually liked Live Free or Die Hard very much -- not as much as the other three in this awesome franchise, but enjoyed it nonetheless -- yet the thing is, aren't these guys just getting too old to be believable in these roles anymore?

At any rate, we have a matured John McClaine character who is assigned to bring Justin Long into questioning by the FBI for computer hacking issues; the plot then goes into Willis' McClaine of course being in the wrong place at the wrong time and having to protect Long from rogue competitive hackers trying to kill him. From there, things become personal as the leader of the virtual terrorists -- who have taken control of governmental institutions and their computer systems including traffic control corridors and such -- kidnap McClaine's daughter Lucy in return for him messing up this group's mission....which, of course, is to tap into federal funds and steal a load of money. Action and mayhem ensue, and an older, wiser and Rogaine-inspired McClaine go back into action to rescue his daughter leading to some pretty over-the-top set pieces including an Air Force jet that comes face-to-face with our hero on a highway overpass.

Let's take a look at the techical aspects of Fox's Blu ray presentation of this title, which, next to Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End and Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer was one of the more anticipated high def titles in this slew of blockbusters to come out around this time. The 2.40:1 widescreen transfer was far from perfect in that there appeared to be a great deal of film grain running in the back of almost every scene -- upon first glance, I could have sworn I popped in a standard DVD cut of the title. But closeups looked great, and details in Willis' face really popped -- the film itself has been bathed and shot in a drab, kind of gritty color scheme, and this was of course not the fault of the transfer by Fox. Still, it made for a less-than-perfect 1080p presentation. In all fairness, the transfer really doesn't get a chance to show off because most of the film is dark and bathed in that aforementioned "olive-y" drab; there are a few random outdoor daylight sequences, and here the greens of grass and flowers looked fine. The transfer, overall though, just didn't look 100 percent -- something I have found with previous Fox Blu rays like the Fantastic 4 films.

The audio is presented in English choices of DTS HD Master Audio or Dolby Digital 5.1; my equipment does not pass these new high resolution audio codecs via bitstream to my receiver (which can decode them) so everything is being passed PCM -- still, my player won't even support Master Audio, and so what I received was some kind of extracted high resolution "core" DTS mix from this track, which went multichannel to my receiver. The result was a soundtrack which sonically sounded like a decent DTS mix on a regular DVD. Once cranked, the soundtrack rocked, don't get me wrong. But, again, like the video, the audio didn't knock me off my couch -- surprisingly, there were missed surround cue opportunities, such as when tractor trailers rush off towards the rear of the soundstage. LFE levels were also seemingly lacking; I didn't detect anything that really shook my walls to be honest. Again, this could be because of the way the soundtrack is being extracted and passed to my receiver via PCM. This is the best I could do now. Dialogue didn't seem to be a problem, but the biggest concern I had was that during high-impact energy scenes, such as shootouts with machine guns, many of the bullet-whizzing effects that make home theater so exciting just weren't there at times when it seemed like they should be. I detected a very front-heavy mix.

I did not get a chance to watch any of the extras on this one-disc presentation. This was a rather expensive disc at $35 plus tax; and I say rather expensive because it didn't seem like this version could have been dramatically better than the standard DVD version -- of course, I don't know that for sure because I only viewed this version, but those were my insights.

Last edited by ShnuggMac; 11-25-07 at 01:14 AM.
ShnuggMac is offline  


20th , bluray , century , die , fox , free , hard , live , review

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