Die Hard 4.0 - Blu-Ray Movie Review
|AVC MPEG-4||DTS-HD Master Audio||M||Bruce Willis|
John McClane is a character that should need no introduction. During the 1980's and 1990's the three Die Hard movies generated over $US700 million in box office sales worldwide. With 12 years passing since the third movie though, would movie goers want to see an aging Bruce Willis back for more? They did, and this fourth movie has grossed a massive $US382 million worldwide taking the franchises box office to well over $1 billion.
|John McClane is back kicking ass!|
Prior to release Die Hard 4.0 received a fair share media coverage due to Fox's decision to edit the movie back to a PG-13 rating in America as opposed to an R rating which all the previous movies were given (which is roughly equivalent to MA15+ in Australia). But the editing back to PG-13 didn't mean there was less action - far from it in fact. So what's it all about then...
An attack on the vulnerable United States computer infrastructure that controls all communications, transportation and power begins to shut down the entire nation. The mysterious figure behind the shattering scheme has figured out every digital angle. What he didn't count on was McClane, and old-school cop who knows a thing or two about how to foil terrorist plans.
Of all the films released during 2007 Die Hard 4.0 has provided me with the most thrills. One is always hopeful that revisiting a franchise after a lengthy gap will pay off, but it rarely does. This is one of the rare occasions where a film has actually a) been good and b) surpassed the two previous movies in terms of quality. That's right I put Die Hard 4.0 just behind the original Die Hard in terms of storyline, acting and enjoyment.
|The opening shootout is pretty intense,|
As I just mentioned the storyline and action in this movie is right up there with the best of them - which actually makes this one of the best of them! Far from your typical 'terrorist takes hostages' storyline this time the target is the entire country. The action and set pieces are pretty intense with some great sequences including one with a truck being turned into Swiss cheese by a fighter jet (although this sequence does end a little over the top for my liking), and one of the earlier opening sequences where John and Matt have to get out of Matt's apartment while assassin's close in all around.
It was a pleasure to see Bruce Willis slip right back into his role as John McClane. Sure he's aged quite a bit (what do you expect seeing as it has been 15 years since the last movie!), but he still looks pretty fit, and as the movie is set in the same time period after the last movie it makes sense anyway. The two other main actors in this movie are Justin Long as Matt Farrell who provides some of the comic relief, but never over the top to have you groaning. Also impressive is Timothy Olyphant as the bad guy, Thomas Gabriel. He's pretty menacing and suits the role perfectly.
In terms of supporting cast one can also thank the gods that Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3, Death Proof) was handed the part of Lucy McClane rather then Jessica Simpson who auditioned for the role! Mary does a fantastic as the kick-ass daughter of John McClane and while she has limited screen time she plays the role perfectly. Kevin Smith is another actor who had many people quite confused as to how he could fit into the Die Hard universe however he is perfectly cast as the hacker Warlock. Other supporting cast including Maggie Q, Cliff Curtis, and Tim Russ (who many would recognise as Tuvok from Star Trek Voyager) all put in fine performances as well.
|John - always hanging around...|
As a side note we must make comment that in a somewhat extraordinary decision - and one that has us completely baffled - the Blu-Ray version of Die Hard 4.0 does not contain the uncut version of the film as found on the DVD release. We do have to point out though that the changes made are minor with a little extra blood here and there, and the "Yippie-kay-yay Mother Fucker" is actually intact in the DVD version. I would still much rather this stunning Blu-Ray transfer over the DVD Unedited version, but they question has to be put to Fox... Why?
While earlier Die Hard movies suffered in the video stakes on Blu-Ray discs with plenty of grain evident, Die Hard 4.0 is quite the opposite. Using the AVC MPEG-4 codec the transfer looks razor sharp and is a marked improvement over the impressive DVD release which hit shelves on the same day. Even in the darker scenes - take those in the tunnel between 41:45 and 45:23 the detail and clarity remains still impressive. We must point out that much of the movie has a slightly blue tint to it, but that was also present in the cinemas and is intentional. There is the occasional scene that looks a little 'fake' in terms of CG including a section in the tunnel when John and Matt take cover behind a post as a truck crashes into it, and also during the sequence on the fighter jet. There are also a couple of scenes which look a little soft compared to others. Overall though this is as pristine as we could have ever hoped.
|Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Timothy Olyphant.|
As with the video the audio presentation on this disc is suitably improved over the earlier films. The dis is encoded at DTS-HD Master Audio which, until something happens to improve the PS3 audio output options means we are stuck with the core 1.5Mbps DTS track. Needless to say it's probably among the best audio we've ever heard produced from our sound system. Surround sound and bass is used frequently making the experience much more immersive then other movies in the franchise. Action sequences in particular are quite stunning, with the fighter jet shooting at the truck (between 1:52:11 and 1:56:02) being a particularly stunning example.
The music composed by Marco Beltrami is one aspect of the movie which I particularly enjoyed. Unlike his score on Terminator 3 which was devoid of almost any reference to the two original Terminator scores, Die Hard 4.0 is littered with music cues from the original movies. You'll know this is a Die Hard movie simply by listening to the audio though much of the movie. This is the first Blu-Ray disc in our entire collection to get a perfect 10/10 for audio - it's that impressive.
The disc also includes German DTS 5.1 and Spanish DTS 5.1 audio at 768kbps which are decent enough in quality as well as an English Descriptive Service in Dolby Digital 5.1 at 384kbps. Subtitles are also provided in 9 different languages.
In terms of extras the Australian version of Die Hard 4.0 is a bit of a mixed bag. We do have the main documentaries and interviews which are quite brilliant, but strangely the (apparently quite entertaining) commentary track from the American version has been dropped off for us - we assume to make way for the Spanish and German DTS tracks and several other trailers are missing too (although we can live without promos for other movies).
Analog Cop in a Digital World: The Making of Die Hard 4.0 (1:37:19):
Certainly the biggest and most impressive of the extras this covers and considerable amount of the production of the movie and includes a tonne of 'fly on the wall' footage as well as sit down interviews with a large number of cast and crew. There's a tonne of information here about the creation of this movie. The only disappointment is that this lengthy feature is only presented in Standard Definition.
|Maggie Q - that's one hot baddie!|
Yippie-kay-yay Mother ******! (22:40):
A rather interesting chat between Bruce Willis and Kevin Smith. Kevin is a little glowing of the franchise at times - then again it really is quite brilliant - but they discuss what Bruce doesn't like about the second and third movie, if Bruce was confident about the movie being a success. One interesting thing is that there is so much swearing here, but not in the feature movie! Presented in Standard Definition with 224kbps 2 channel audio.
Guyz Nite music video called "Die Hard" (4:30):
Why, for the love of god do we have this pretty crap music video about the Die Hard movies. Save your time. Actually there is one good thing about this clip; Unlike Die Hard 4.0 you actually hear them shout out "Yippie-kay-yay Mother Fucker" quite a few times!! Presented in Standard Definition with 224kbps 2 Channel audio.
Behind the Scenes with Guyz Nite (5:47):
Even lamer then the music video is the behind the scenes making of. Surely this, and the actual music video could have been scrapped in favour of the audio commentary which has gone AWOL. Gay, crap, boring, pointless.
Fox Movie Channel Presents: Fox Legacy (6:18):
|Yippie-kay-yay Mother Fuc... Wait, we can't say that!|
A brief look at the Die Hard franchise with Tom Rothman and what it has meant for Fox over the years. Not too much to get you excited about here sadly.
Theatrical Trailer (2:14/HD):
Die Hard 4.0 was a blast. The movie could have been an absolute disaster if not handled right, but director Len Wiseman, has handled this movie perfectly by keeping the continuity with previous movies (even John McClane's fear of flying is explained through flying lessons) as well as modernizing it with a current day theme. The Blu-Ray transfer is technically brilliant but the omission of the uncut version of the film, and a couple of extras is a bit baffling. Still, this is one of the best Blu-Ray discs we've seen during 2007 and should be in every movie fans collection.
Review By: Dave Warner
Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Fox. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.