Die Hard 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection Review

Die Hard 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection ReviewAs guaranteed as it is for John McClane to laugh in the face of armed and agitated terrorists comes another collection of Die Hard films on Blu-ray, cleverly coinciding with a fifth Die Hard film making its theatrical debut, which happens to also mark the original film’s 25th anniversary. The collision of milestone events are a marketer’s perfect storm to take advantage of thus the existence of this new Die Hard 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into perfect or even satisfactory execution.

Over half a decade has passed since Fox Home Entertainment packaged up all four (at the time) Die Hard films into a single collection that was a highlight for the Blu-ray format during the 2007 holiday season. Chances are favorable that if someone intended to own multiple Die Hard films on Blu-ray, they already own that set. It’s been on sale on numerous occasions for even the most budget conscious Blu-ray collectors and can be had on the cheap with minimal effort.

What makes the Die Hard 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection a bit of a head scratcher is how similar it is to that 2007 release. The new set has been graced with nicer packaging featuring a hard outer case and sleeves for each disc, sure, but four of the five discs are the exact same as before. The only thing new is a fifth bonus disc with not quite two hours’ worth of new bonus features. You would have to have a pretty special imaginary relationship with John McClane and his exploits to justify an upgrade based on that.

What might have handed over justification on a plate full of stale Twinkies is Live Free or Die Hard in its original R-rated cut. As with the previous collection, the mainstreamed PG-13 version rears its unwelcome head again, shunning another opportunity to provide an ultimate collection of Die Hard films in high definition.

The imminent arrival of A Good Day to Die Hard means the 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection is already out of date. Fox could have opted to follow MGM’s lead and leave an empty slot as was successfully and brilliantly executed in the marvelous Bond 50 Blu-ray collection in regards to the upcoming release of Skyfall. Yet they didn’t, and its exclusion strips away another reason to even remotely ponder an upgrade.

High-Def Presentation

Because all four films: Die Hard, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Die Hard With a Vengeance and Live Free or Die Hard, are identical to their 2007 releases, there’s nothing “new” to report on the technical front. All the films are presented in 1080p video and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Watching them chronologically is like traveling through time to see how filmmaking techniques have modernized over the 25 years between the original and Live Free or Die Hard. Where the Blu-ray versions strike hardest is in the audio as John McClane loves to shoot gun and blow stuff up. Anything less than lossless can’t do these films justice making Blu-ray their ideal format.

Beyond the Feature

A total of seven new featurettes were commissioned in high definition for the Die Hard 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection that can be viewed individually or together as one uninterrupted “documentary” of sorts. There’s a notable absence of Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and Timothy Olyphant in the many interview snippets strewn throughout the featurettes, not hard to imagine considering all three men have high profile projects going on. Otherwise the featurettes and their trips down memory lane with the likes of John McTiernan, Kevin Smith and Jeremy Irons, amongst many others, should appease fans of the franchise that they are targeted at, though hardly justify denting a wallet for.

  • John McClane: Modern-Day Hero (17 min)
  • Sidekicks: Along for the Ride (19 min)
  • Villains: Bad to the Bone (21 min)
  • Fight Sequences: Punishing Blows (7 min)
  • Action: Explosive Effects (15 min)
  • Origins: Reinventing the Action Genre (20 min)
  • The Legacy: The Right Hero for the Right Time (9 min)
  • Trailer for each film

Someone who lacks and uncontrollably must own the Die Hard films on Blu-ray now after watching A Good Day to Die Hard in theaters will be well serviced by the Die Hard 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection in comparison to the previous set. The hardcover packaging with interior sleeves is a notable upgrade over the all-plastic 2007 version, and nearly two hours of franchise retrospective supplements are worth a watch.

The lack of a slot for A Good Day to Die Hard, no new transfers, and no R-rated cut for Live Free or Die Hard equate to “three strikes and you’re out.” Only the most “die hard” collector or franchise fanatic has reason to give the previous Die Hard collection a companion on the shelf with this set. Everyone else can sit tight and wait for the five-film Die Hard collection to inevitably materialize.

– Dan Bradley

Shop for Die Hard 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection for a discounted price at Amazon.com (January 29, 2013 release date).

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