[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/photopost/data/500/DieHard.jpg[/img]Starring: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Smith, Maggie Q
Director: Len Wiseman
Production Year: 2007
Media Year: 2007
Bruce Willis is back as John McClane, the everyman cop hero. In this film, which could be dubbed Die Hard Hackers, Det. McClane is given the simple task of bringing in a Mac-using hacker named Matthew Farrell (Justin Long from the Mac vs PC ads).
Of course Farrell uses a Mac, and of course in trying to execute the simple task of bringing him in, McClean stumbles upon a terrorist plot to overthrow the government.
Willis still has the charisma to carry a Die Hard movie, and this latest in the series was a pleasure to watch. It’s not quite like Die Hard films of the past, mainly because the in joke is that McClane is a relic of a cop.
“You’re a Timex watch in a digital age,”
He is told by lead hacker terrorist Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant, whom you may recognize from Deadwood). The theme of Willis’ age and his lack of understanding of modern digital culture recurs throughout the movie.
Through it all, McClane loses some of his original appeal as the everyman. In this new version of Die Hard (called Die Hard 4.0 in Europe), he performs stunts that movie superheroes wouldn’t even try - you’ll see him get beat up by a kung-fu chick, roll out of a speeding car and generally spend most of the movie looking like he belongs under the treads of an M1 Abrams. Die Hard fans will be pleased to know that, like the Timex watch, McClane takes a licking and keeps on ticking.
It came as some disappointment to the Die Hard initiated that Live Free or Die Hard was going to be rated PG-13. Yes, a copout to our politically correct, modern box office paradigm that allows 15 year-old-boys to dictate mainstream cinema. Gone are the big budget action films that weren’t afraid to show a pair of boobs on screen before blowing the whole place to smithereens.
Low brow? Maybe so, but at least violent action films of the past were genuinely low brow and not preening about trying to fit into a rating system two sizes too small.
The DVD release of Live Free or Die Hard has much of the cut dialogue restored, so true to form, McClane is dropping F-words like a muther-… and the signature Yipy Ki yay … line is fully audible.
The Blu-ray version, however, has the PG-13 rating. Frankly, watching a tidied up version of the film wasn’t distracting at all. I still heard the signature Yipee-Ki-Yay… line and spilled beer on myself jumping up and screaming as popcorn spewed from my face. The line might have been slightly obscured by gunfire - but hey, it’s gunfire!
Mpeg-4 AVC, 1080P/24, 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The video is strong, though not exemplary of HD technology. It’s a bit cool in the color temperature scale, which might have muddied the darker scenes a bit. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a crisp high definition picture. But clear, sun-drenched cityscapes just don’t look as bright and inviting as other movies I’ve seen in Blu-ray.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/photopost/data/500/die_hard4.jpg[/img]DTS-HD and extreme bass! That’s really all you need to know about the audio. I love DTS whenever available, and the HD track just made it more detailed. There is so much sub-candy, it’s a must for bass fanatics. What I liked was how artfully the soundtrack incorporated deep pitches - it took my subwoofer places I didn’t know it could go.
The film also has some nice separation effects. Certain scenes actually manipulated front to surround speaker positional effects to make things move around the living-room.
In fitting with the film’s over-the-top theme, the soundtrack was far from realistic – guns erupt like cannons, and although I’ve never seen cars fly through the air before, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t produce a resonant frequency in the 30Hz range. But in Live Free or Die Hard they do, and when they crash it sounds like the end of the world. It’s glorious; I loved the soundtrack on this film.
Special Features :2stars:
Cast Commentary featuring Director/Writer/Producer: I didn’t take the time to listen, but it’s there for the true Die Hard faithful and it does feature Bruce Willis.
Black Hat Intercept! Game: I avoid on-disc games at all cost. I’d rather pull my toenails out than wait for the ridiculous things to load on the too-slow, current generation Blu-ray disc players out there today.
D-Box: I never knew about this. Apparently if you play this back in a computer with a D-Box compatible motion chair you get something that will probably need to be explained to me before I understand. It seems gimmicky, but I’m open minded.
Analog Hero in a Digital World: The Making of Live Free or Die Hard: Long, long documentary with many chapters. It’s mostly the usual self-congratulatory stuff you get in making of featurettes. A few decent scenes and insights are buried beneath way too much Hollywood politicking about how great and wonderful everyone is.
The one bright spot was a whole chapter devoted to co-star Justin Long. He brings a quirky sarcasm that I can certainly relate to. It was hard to tell if he was serious about the people who auditioned for his part before him. I take it to be him joking and making a mockery of the whole interview – classic!
Yippie-Ki-Yay Featurette: Bruce Willis sitting at the bottom of a staircase speaking frankly about the project on the day it was released. It’s a good feature - only several minutes and Willis is surprisingly honest about not really liking the second two movies so much despite their positives. It’s not a load of the usual **** which was very refreshing.
Die Hard by Guyz Night: A mock-band music video that plays on the campy humor aspect of the Die Hard franchise. It’s very Spinal Tap - funny to watch once.
Behind the Scenes with Guyz Night: Did I mention the video was kind of funny? This feature is provided in case you didn’t get the joke the first time.
If you’re a fan of the Die Hard franchise and own a Blu-ray player, this is probably the version you want. The PG-13 rating shouldn’t offend you, although I believe it’s just a ploy to release the Blu-ray director’s cut later.
I enjoyed the movie as a campy action film - 3 out of 5 overall is better than average. I almost want to give it a four because I had fun watching, but knowing there is another cut of the film out there disappoints me. This disc is not complete without the option of choosing between versions. This is the Blu-ray after all.
To summarize, Live Free or Die Hard on Blu-ray has an amazing audio track and solid but not overwhelming video. It’s a must have for the Die Hard and a definite rental for the casual Willis fan.