It has been 25 years since the release of the original Die Hard, but there are few heroes that can top John McClane. To celebrate the franchise's anniversary, 20th Century Fox has released a must-own Blu-ray collection of the first four films.
For those of you that are familiar with the Alien Anthology, you will feel right at home with this set. The packaging is very similar, and uses a book-like hard cover. This is the best packaging on a collector's set since Tarantino XX. The artwork is not in the same league, but it is cool to see McClane in action with what looks to be shards of glass exploding around him. It isalso cool to see Willis going from a full head of hair to bald.
In addition to cool packaging, there is some amazing content. Not only do you get the first four movies in stunning Blu-ray, you also get 7 new featurettes in a new package called "Decoding Die Hard". I will be discussing those later in my review. Die Hard came out when I was 10, and I remember seeing it with my father on opening weekend. I even remember the theater I saw it in in Columbia, MO (which is no longer there). My father and I enjoyed watching war and action movies together, so it was not a big deal for me to see an R-rated film at 10. I remember being mesmerized by the action as it unfolded on screen. Before this film I had not been too familiar with Bruce Willis, other than his role of TV's Moonlighting. No matter what further roles Willis has, he will always be seen as Officer John McClane who took on Hans Gruber at the Nakatomi Plaza.
Die Hard still holds up over the years and almost annual viewings as been one of my favorite action films. It is much more than that actually. It is a fantastic non-traditional Christmas movie, it has very witty dialogue, and can even be seen as a movie about women's empowerment in a way. What I love about the the Die Hard franchise is that there is truly something for everyone aside from the explosive action sequences.
I love the character of John McClane. He is truly a modern day hero. What sets him apart from other action heroes is that he can and does get hurt. You could even say he gets beaten. He may not win every single battle, but he does live to fight again. People can relate to him, with the exception of jumping on the back of a jet in Live Free or Die Hard.
If I had to rank my favorite films in the franchise, they would be as follows:
- Die Hard
- Die Hard With a Vengeance
- Die Hard 2 - Die Harder
- Live Free or Die Hard
In terms of the Blu-ray video and audio quality there is not much different from recent Die Hard Collection releases, this one just happens to have a few minor improvements. After watching the films in this disc on Blu-ray, the picture quality looks superb on my home theater. Live Free of Die Hard is obviously the best looking film in the collection, but I think there is still something to be said for the way the others look in comparison to watching them on streaming or on HBO. For films from the 80's and 90's, I think they look and sound fantastic, but could still warrant a remaster. If you have the recent Die Hard Collection set, there is not much in terms of video and audio quality to warrant picking this up.
The main reason I think this is a must-own is that the collection comes with "Decoding Die Hard". This has 7 brand-new featurettes, equaling an hour and forty-seven minutes of new bonus material. The individual discs also have the features from their latest releases. The new content includes new cast and crew interviews, behind-the-scenes archive footage and a ton of interesting discussion about the history of the franchise. My biggest gripe is that Bruce Willis does not take the time to sit down for the content, but my interest was saved by the inclusion of Alan Rickman (Hans Gruber), Jeremy Irons (Hans Gruber's brother), and John McTiernan. I
love the way this disc is set up, because it allows you to easily watch all content by clicking "play all". This is unfortunately not always the case on every disc I get, which is highly annoying. Below is a listing of the various special features included:
- Origins - Reinventing the Action Genre
- John McClane - Modern Day Hero
- Villains - Bad to the Bone - Timothy Olyphant must have been too busy with Justified to stop by.
- Sidekicks - Along for the Ride - Unfortunately Samuel L. Jackson does not make an appearance.
- Fight Sequences - Punishing Blows
- Action - Explosive Effects
- The Legacy - The Right Hero for the Time
- Die Hard Trailers
The Die Hard Collection - 25th Anniversary Edition is available now, and I think it is a must-own set for collectors, and fans of the franchise.