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Die Hard: 25th Anniversary Collection
BLU-RAY disk
Feb 4, 2013 By: Chris Bumbray
Die Hard: 25th Anniversary Collection order
Director:
John McTiernan, Renny Harlin, Len Wiseman

Actors:
4

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
John McClane (Bruce Willis) doesn't like terrorists…
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
The DIE HARD franchise is mostly awesome. At its best- as with the first film, they’re among the best action movies ever made. At their worst- even the nadir of the series (LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD) isn’t offensively bad, even if Fox seems to have forgotten what made DIE HARD such a breath of fresh air in the first place.

DIE HARD 5/5

The first DIE HARD movie is an absolute classic. Given that star Bruce Willis is such a modern icon, it’s tough to remember that when he first took on the role of John McClane, Willis was far from an action star. He was the leading man on the TV series MOONLIGHTING, which was a kind of an eighties take on screwball comedies like HIS GIRL FRIDAY. His first few films, including BLIND DATE, played up that eighties wise guy image, but he was never an action star. People liked him because he was a regular guy.

It’s this quality that made him so effective in DIE HARD. In the eighties, muscle-bound heroes like Stallone and Schwarzenegger ruled the roost, but Willis was a step in another direction, where McClane was a mostly ordinary guy caught up in extraordinary circumstances. His brawn didn’t make him a hero- rather; it was his courage, his wit, and his resourcefulness.

DIE HARD is a perfect action movie. Before the carnage kicks in, we get a good half hour to know McClane, who’s a New York cop in L.A trying to reconcile with his wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia)- a prototypical eighties yuppie. Once Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) and his cronies invade Nakatomi Plaza, and all hell breaks loose, we already know and like McClane. And once the carnage starts- hold on!

Everything about DIE HARD is perfect, from the action set pieces (that dive off the roof with the fire hose is nuts) to the music (Michael Kamen), to the quieter moments, such as when McClane pulls glass out of his feet while talking to Al (Reginald VelJohnson). But, it’s the performances, specifically Willis and Rickman, who respectively make one of the best hero/villain combos in screen history that made DIE HARD an undisputed action classic.

DIE HARD 2: DIE HARDER 4/5

Compared to the original, DIE HARD 2 is a bit disappointing. But, in its own right- it’s a pretty damn solid actioner. Once again, Willis is aces as McClane. While John McTiernan opted out of DIE HARD 2 to do HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER (an awesome movie), Renny Harlin is a perfectly acceptable substitute. The action is even more savage than it was in the first film, with the classic “icicle in the eye” kill, a massive body count, and a shocking plane crash orchestrated by the baddies.

The biggest problem with DIE HARD 2 is that the villains are bland. William Sadler is a good actor, but his Colonel Stuart is no Hans Gruber. Franco Nero makes a good impression as General Esperanza- a kind of pseudo Noriega figure, but his screen time is limited. I also think setting DIE HARD 2 at Christmas is a mistake, as it stretches plausibility that McClane would once again get mixed up with terrorists on X-Mas eve. Still- it’s a pretty damn entertaining movie, and the action scenes are fantastic.

DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE 4/5

John McTiernan came back for DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, and made a bold move to shake up the franchise by ditching the claustrophobic setting of the first two films, and having it take place in a busy afternoon in NYC. DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE is usually held up as the second best entry in the series, but to me it’s on par with DIE HARD 2, with one not being significantly better or worse than the other. It’s a great flick in its own right, with another great performance by Willis. Here, McClane’s fallen on hard times, having been left by his wife Holly, and once again working in NYC. In fact, when we first meet him, he’s on suspension, and working on a hangover- before being pressed into action.

Obviously, the WITH A VENGEANCE crew was hoping Jeremy Irons would be another iconic villain, and they even make him Hans Gruber’s brother. I never liked this twist, as it seems a bit cheap, but Irons is game and seems to be having fun, even if he’s no Rickman. What really makes WITH A VENGEANCE memorable is Samuel Jackson as Zeus Carver, a civilian who finds himself caught up in Gruber’s game of “Simon Says” with McClane. Jackson was just coming off PULP FICTION, and nails the part. Heck, a lot of us wish Jackson would return to the series…

LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD 2.5/5

And here’s where things started to go bad. To be fair to director Len Wiseman, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD isn’t a terrible film. Sure, it’s a mediocre one, but it’s not offensively bad. But- it’s not a DIE HARD film. What made the series so good was that McClane felt like a real guy. Here- he’s a superhero, jumping off jets and blowing up helicopters with his car. The action is too big, and too generic. Once again, Willis is game as McClane, who’s long divorced from Holly, and is trying to repair his relationship with daughter Lucy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).

LIVE FREE has many problems. For one, the goofy comic sidekick, played by Justin Long, is totally unnecessary, and feels like a transparent ploy to bring in younger viewers (gee- kinda like McClane’s son in A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD). The villain, played by Timothy Olyphant is atrocious. Having McClane go up against a hacker? Olyphant makes a great laconic hero on JUSTIFIED, but he’s rubbish as LIVE FREE’s villain. The worst thing about LIVE FREE is the PG-13 rating, which was obviously a decision made after the movie was done, which makes the movie feel like R-rated movies used to feel when edited for TV. The R-rated cut on DVD (which is not included here) fixes some of these problems, but the movie is still bland.

THE EXTRAS
The only thing new to the set is a documentary called Decoding Die Hard which runs just under two hours. This is cut into a few different segments, each focusing on a different aspect, including the development of each film, the casting (Richard Gere was in mind for the first film) and the villains. There's nothing particularly new here, but it's entertaining, and a good variety of people are interviewed, including Alan Rickman, Jeremy Irons, Reginald VelJohnson, John McTiernan, Joel Silver. No Bruce though.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS
If you haven't picked up the DIE HARD movies on Blu-ray, obviously this is a no-brainer. But- the discs housing the films are exactly the ones that have already been issued. The transfers could probably use an upgrade (apparently the first film has been remastered in 4K- but that's not the version in this set), and there are a lot of important extras from the DVD's missing. Most significantly, the R-rated cut of LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD. I imagine a future box set, once GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD comes out on Blu-ray, will be more comprehensive.
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12:50AM on 02/05/2013

What?

I was waiting for a better package and still no R-rated version for Live Free or Die Hard? I'll pass
I was waiting for a better package and still no R-rated version for Live Free or Die Hard? I'll pass
Your Reply:



4:47PM on 02/04/2013

Chris's opinion is sound

Chris is spot on re: LIVE FREE, which is a painfully generic film that does not tonally fit in with the series. My love of DIE HARD 2 has waned in recent years because it is such a carbon copy of the original film. It's entertaining and enjoyable, but the way it enslaves itself to the original's formula is painful. (Of course it's on Christmas that McClane HAPPENS to become mixed up in ANOTHER terrorist plot while his wife's life HAPPENS to hang in the balance AGAIN as she HAPPENS to fly on
Chris is spot on re: LIVE FREE, which is a painfully generic film that does not tonally fit in with the series. My love of DIE HARD 2 has waned in recent years because it is such a carbon copy of the original film. It's entertaining and enjoyable, but the way it enslaves itself to the original's formula is painful. (Of course it's on Christmas that McClane HAPPENS to become mixed up in ANOTHER terrorist plot while his wife's life HAPPENS to hang in the balance AGAIN as she HAPPENS to fly on the same plane as that reporter people liked seeing get his in the original film. If the FRIDAY THE 13th series didn't exist, DIE HARD 2 would be the definition of derivative sequel. At least I get an unrestrained Dennis Franz doing a potty-mouthed Andy Sipowicz. DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE is the ideal DIE HARD sequel because while it changes the setting, it actually sticks to the formula in a better way. Rather than repeat every story beat as DIE HARD 2 does, VENGEANCE instead maintains the first film's ruse. That is the first and third films are both intelligent heist films masquerading as terrorist stories. That was the way to go. Take a fresh story and insert the same character into it, rather than just put him through the same thing over and over again.
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12:25AM on 02/04/2013

I never really get the hate for the fourth film.

For me, the second represents the worst tendencies of '80s sequels (even though it was released in 1990). They take a successful, basic premise (like a guy trapped somewhere taking out terrorists to save his wife and others) and entirely repeat it in another scenario. Instead of Nakatomi Plaza, it's an airport. It's not a BAD film by any means, just sort of more of the same thing. I liked how the third film switched it up more (it was based on a script for Lethal Weapon 4) and brought the
For me, the second represents the worst tendencies of '80s sequels (even though it was released in 1990). They take a successful, basic premise (like a guy trapped somewhere taking out terrorists to save his wife and others) and entirely repeat it in another scenario. Instead of Nakatomi Plaza, it's an airport. It's not a BAD film by any means, just sort of more of the same thing. I liked how the third film switched it up more (it was based on a script for Lethal Weapon 4) and brought the cop-buddy dynamic into play. I thought the fourth again switched things up but kept it fresher than the second. Anyway, I hope the fifth doesn't suck.
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10:09PM on 02/10/2013

just made

a christmas themed video of the first two. i like the fact theyre both set during christmas, nice holiday movies :) hopefully 5 is good.
a christmas themed video of the first two. i like the fact theyre both set during christmas, nice holiday movies :) hopefully 5 is good.
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9:32AM on 02/04/2013
Hit the nail on the head even though I think Vengeance is the only sequel worth caring about. Nothing against 2 but it's a retread. Also, Live Free feels like something I'd watch from CleanFlix and I don't like it.
Hit the nail on the head even though I think Vengeance is the only sequel worth caring about. Nothing against 2 but it's a retread. Also, Live Free feels like something I'd watch from CleanFlix and I don't like it.
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12:16PM on 02/04/2013
I liked Live Free or Die Hard. The trailers scared me, because of the over the top action, but once I saw it in context with the movie, I was fine. The thing you gotta realize is each movie has upped the ridiculousness a tad. McClane was an ordinary guy in Die Hard, but the experiences he had through that, Die Harder, Die Hard With a Vengeance HAVE turned him into a super hero. He jumped off a building with a fire hose in the first one, ejected from an exploding plane in the second, wore a
I liked Live Free or Die Hard. The trailers scared me, because of the over the top action, but once I saw it in context with the movie, I was fine. The thing you gotta realize is each movie has upped the ridiculousness a tad. McClane was an ordinary guy in Die Hard, but the experiences he had through that, Die Harder, Die Hard With a Vengeance HAVE turned him into a super hero. He jumped off a building with a fire hose in the first one, ejected from an exploding plane in the second, wore a sign that says "I Hate Ni***rs" in Harlem... Do you really think he's not capable of jumping off jets and blowing up helicopters with his car by now?
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7:49AM on 02/04/2013

Chris Bumbray needs to stop...

All this guys reviews always follow the mass majority of critic reviews. I remember back far enough on this website where the writers enjoyed fun movies, like Die Hard 4, and knocked the artistic crap like the "films" put out at Sundance. And I also recall John McClane swinging off bridges with steel cables, and riding through aquaducts with pressurized water. Not to far from the fourth, just from from a different time when effect and budgets were smaller. Grow up Chris.
All this guys reviews always follow the mass majority of critic reviews. I remember back far enough on this website where the writers enjoyed fun movies, like Die Hard 4, and knocked the artistic crap like the "films" put out at Sundance. And I also recall John McClane swinging off bridges with steel cables, and riding through aquaducts with pressurized water. Not to far from the fourth, just from from a different time when effect and budgets were smaller. Grow up Chris.
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