Die Hard Collection
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Bruce Willis
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Documentaries, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Alternate Endings, Outtakes, Trailers and TV Spots and much much more
"Die Hard" is the film that started it all. It redefined the action genre, made Bruce Willis a star, and set the standard for action films to come. Thirteen years later, "Die Hard" is still a crowd-pleaser, incorporating action, humor, and suspense in just the right doses. John McTiernan’s direction is dead-on and Willis is instantly likable as the New York cop who must save a group of hostages from a throng of sleek terrorists.
Disc 2 is the real star of this set. We start with "From the Vault", which contains many goodies. Under "Outtakes", we have a reel entitled "Die Hard: The Vault", which is a mixture of short deleted scenes, outtakes, and alternate takes. This shows some fun clowning around by Willis. This can be watched with production audio & music, or production audio only. Next, we have the one true deleted scene on the disc, "Turning off the Power". This is a longer, more involved version of Chapter 42, in which the FBI orders the power to the building cut. (This scene can be incorporated into "Die Hard" on Disc 1.) Next, there is "The Newscasts", which is original VHS footage of the many news reports that show up in the movie. This includes longer takes, alternate takes, and bloopers. "From the Vault" is rounded out by sharing the complete text of two magazine articles about "Die Hard" — "Sophisticated Violence on a Grand Scale for ’Die Hard’" from the 12/88 issue of AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER and "Exaggerated Reality" from the 11/88 issue of CINEFEX.
The rest of the special features on Disc 2 are a bit more standard, although equally impressive. The disc contains the entire shooting script for "Die Hard", a feature usually reserved for DVD-ROM. The Interactive Slide Show contains 94 publicity and behind-the-scenes stills from the film. As an added bonus, within this still gallery are 12 short presentations, which can be accessed by clicking on the Nakatomi logo. These presentations consist of blueprints, deleted scenes, and behind-the-scenes footage, the best being Richard Edlund’s model helicopter, and its subsequent destruction. The DVD contains three theatrical trailers for "Die Hard", seven TV spots, and a seven-and-a-half minute featurette from 1988, which offers some cast & crew interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.
As with "Die Hard", the only extra on Disc 1 of "Die Hard 2" is an <$commentary,audio commentary>. This time, we are treated to a talk by director Renny Harlin, who gets off to a great start by explaining how he went from "A Nightmare on Elm Street 4" to "The Adventures of Ford Fairlane" to "Die Hard 2". Harlin’s demeanor is laid back and chatty, as he describes the hardships that went into making the film. (He mentions several times that there was no snow to be found anywhere.) As with the commentaries on "Die Hard", Harlin’s speech may be a bit too technical at times for some viewers, but he does talk about the actors involved, specifically the many secondary characters.
Although "Die Hard 2" isn’t a "Five Star Collection" disc, the second DVD is loaded with extras. We start off with "Die Harder: The Making of Die Hard 2", a 23-minute documentary created for FOX Network affiliates. This is a nice behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, and has a interesting section which demonstrates how footage from various locations is spliced together seamlessly. It appears that the best footage from this documentary was edited together to make the 4-minute making-of featurette, which next appears on the DVD. Similar material appears in "Interview with Renny Harlin", which is actually a mixture of quotes from Harlin, film clips, and behind-the-scenes footage. This trend continues with "Villain’s Profile", which looks at the bad guys in the film. All of these segments are very slick and corporate, but they offer a great deal of information on the making of the film, and are loaded with interviews with the cast and crew.
Finally, Disc 2 of "Die Hard 2" brings us four deleted scenes, which run for a total of 8 minutes. It’s very easy to see why these brief scenes were cut for pacing. There are four theatrical trailers on the disc, all presented at 2.35:1. (Trailer "A" is a great example of what a teaser trailer should be.) And lastly, there is a TV spot, presented full-frame.
John McTiernan returned to the director’s chair for the third film in the series, "Die Hard with a Vengeance". Here, John McClane is taken out of a confined space, and let loose on the streets of New York, to track down a serial bomber. While the latter half of the film becomes more illogically with each passing moment, "Die Hard with a Vengeance" is still a fun ride, and the teaming of Willis with Samuel L. Jackson creates one of the great on-screen teams.
Keeping the trend of the set, Disc 1’s only extra is a commentary by director/producer John McTiernan, screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh, and former Fox president of Marketing and Distribution, the latter two not being listed on the DVD packaging. This is a very informative commentary, as Hensleigh does most of the talking. As is usually the case with screenwriters, Hensleigh has a great memory for detail and gives a ton of info on the making of the film, especially the fact that his script was not initially a "Die Hard" sequel. McTiernan chimes in occasionally with comments like "It’s not as bad as I remembered." My one complaint about this commentary is that in places such as Chapter 12 and Chapter 22, it seems very obvious that footage had been cut out, but no one mentions this.
There is a great emphasis on exploring the special effects from "Die Hard with a Vengeance". First, we have three separate segments exploring the explosion in the subway, the race through Central Park, and the infamous opening explosion. Each of these goes in-depth to show the careful preparation that went into creating these stunts. Next, we have film-to-storyboard comparisons of the tunnel flood sequence. Many different elements come into play when creating a special effects shot, and these are explored in the visual effects breakdown. Here, seven individual scenes are deconstructed to show how live-action and special effects were merged to create the finished shot.
The most interesting feature on this disc is the alternate ending to the movie, which can be viewed with or without comments from screenwriter Jonathan Hensleigh. This scene is very different in tone from the rest of the film and it’s left up to the viewer whether or not it would’ve worked better than the theatrical finale. Finally, we have two theatrical trailers, both <$PS,letterboxed> at 2.35:1, and ten TV spots in various aspect ratios.
You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t said anything about the technical aspects of the films themselves. That’s because there’s not much to say. Each film in the "Die Hard" series is a <$THX,THX>-certified digital transfer and all three films are basically perfect. All three are presented in <$16x9,anamorphic> <$PS,widescreen> and are <$PS,letterboxed> at 2.35:1. They all look great, the most noticeable improvement being a lack of grain in some shots, which has been very noticeable in previous versions. The image is sharp and clear on each disc with a high level of detail and colors that are vivid and true. Along with these great visuals, comes a dynamite audio presentation. Each disc features both a <$DD,Dolby Digital> <$5.1,5.1 channel> soundtrack or a <$DTS,DTS> 5.1 track. Both sound great on each movie, as the explosions are loud and the subwoofer never gets a break. Both tracks show a wide dynamic range and surround sound is put to great use in all three movies. (The only complaint here is that the some of the explosions on the Dolby track of "Die Hard" sound a bit muffled.) So, even if you don’t care about the bonus features, the box set is a worthy investment simply because of the pristine transfers presented here.
Insert your own "Yippee-ki-yay" joke here.