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Die Hard (Five Star Collection)

Reviewed by: Nancy Lisak
Genre: Action
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen (Aspect Ratio 2.35:1)
Audio: English 5.1 DTS, English 5.1 Surround, English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround
Language: English, French
Subtitle: English, Spanish
Length: 2hrs & 12 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: July 10, 2001
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Commentary: Commentary by Director John McTiernan and Production Designer Jackson DeGovia Scene-Specific Commentary by Special Effects Supervisor Richard Edlund Subtitle Commentary by Various Cast and Crew
Documentaries: None
Featurettes: Under Ad Campaigns (~7 minutes)
Filmography/Biography: None
Interviews: None
Trailers/TV Spots: Yes
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: Yes
Music Video: None
Other: Branching version with two extended scenes DVD-ROM Script-to-Screen Comparison The Cutting Room Gag Reel Extended Newscasts Interactive Articles from American Cinematographer and Cinfex Magazine Full-Length Screenplay Still Gallery DVD-ROM Links and Game Demos
Cast and Crew: Bruce Willis (John McLane), Bonnie Bedelia (Holly McLane), Alan Rickman (Hans Gruber), Alexander Godunov (Karl), Reginald Johnson (Sgt. Al Powell)
Screenplay by: Jeb Stuart and Steven E. de Souza
Produced by: Lawrence Gordon and Joel Silver
Directed By: John McTiernan
Music: Michael Kamen
The Review: Bruce Willis stars in this action-packed film as John McLane, a New York City cop who comes to Los Angeles to spend Christmas with his estranged wife Holly, played by Bonnie Bedelia. While he waits in a private bathroom for her office Christmas party to come to an end, the building is infiltrated and taken over by a group of terrorists. McLane quickly escapes to another floor to figure out what to do, and he begins a one-man battle against the terrorists who for quite some time are unable to identify him. With the phones disconnected by the terrorists, McLane wracks his brain for ways to contact the authorities. A pulled fire alarm is quickly called off by one terrorist, posing as a building employee. As McLane begins picking off the terrorists one by one, gradually collecting a small arsenal of weapons, he eventually gets a radio, which he uses to place an emergency call to the police. He's treated as a crank call, but Sgt. Al Powell (Reginald Johnson) is sent to investigate, and McLane gets his attention by dumping one of the terrorist bodies out the window onto the hood of the police car. This sets off a series of events bringing in the LA police and the FBI, but neither agency really believes that McLane is fighting against the terrorists since he hasn't identified himself over the radio. Powell's hunch tells him that McLane is a cop, but no one else believes him, so he becomes McLane's only real backup. This film moves quickly from one action-packed scene to another, and it's remarkably easy to suspend disbelief that a single police officer, initially armed with only a service revolver, could take on a group of 12 terrorists. McLane uses his own cunning and the missteps by the FBI and LAPD to his advantage, as well as keeping his identity a secret for as long as possible. A great action film with enough comic lines to break the tension-well worth the "price of admission."
Image and Sound The film was transferred in original letterbox form, which is always the ideal. The picture is crisp, and I didn't notice any glitches or catches is the action. The audio gives you a variety of options depending on the system you're using to play the DVD, so even someone with just a virtual surround sound option will find themselves adjusting the volume if they don't want to bother the neighbors.
The Extras The number of extras on this two-disc set really blew me away. Most are well worth checking out, but some work to a bit of a disadvantage. The one big drawback is that there are so many extras that it's sometimes hard to find what you're looking for. FEATURETTE: This short featurette didn't feel valuable at all to me. The narration was very sales-y, so it was obviously put together as part of the ad campaign (which is where it's included on the DVD). They did have brief spots with the lead actors, including one in which you find out that Willis did his own stunts in the film. BRANCHING VERSION WITH TWO EXTENDED SCENES: The viewer is given the option of watching the two scenes individually or during the actual viewing of the full-length film. To watch them in the film, you have to wait for an on-screen cue and access it that way, or you can watch them on disc 2. Personally, I thought they were good cuts to the final version, and though I was drawn to watch them, I could have lived without seeing them. DVD-ROM SCRIPT-TO-SCREEN COMPARISON/FULL-LENGTH SCREENPLAY: This is a feature I've actually never run into before. The studio has chosen to include the entire script of the film on the DVD. However, it's on disc 2, so you can't really compare it to the film while you're watching, which is what I though when I read "script-to-screen comparison." They've done so much already with subtitles that, I would think, they could have added this as an additional subtitle option. According to the packaging, the script-to-screen is on disc 1, but I was never able to find it. THE CUTTING ROOM: This is by far the coolest feature on the DVD. It's an interactive feature designed to teach about film and audio editing. It includes a piece about letterbox version versus full-screen versions as well as a glossary. The fun part is the inclusion of several scenes shot in different ways that you can remix and re-edit for video and audio and then play back the version you created. You can make it look and sound as good or as bad as you want, and it's interesting to see the number of different ways one scene is shot. This is also where you can view some scenes at a variety of angles. GAG REEL: The gag reel is actually outtakes combined into one fluid piece buried in "From the Vault" with the newscasts and the magazine articles. It was more cutting room, less gag, and I prefer DVDs that show each cut individually and give you a director's view of why they were cut. When watching cut scenes from other DVDs (for instance, "The Sixth Sense"), I typically decide as I'm watching whether I thought it was a good cut or not. That's hard to do when everything is flowed together as it is here. That said, it's still interesting to see some of the things the production staff chose not to include. One of the most interesting things included here is a deleted scene that explains why McLane's t-shirt goes from black to white through the course of the film (something that, honestly, I didn't even notice until it was brought to my attention). EXTENDED NEWSCASTS: This feature includes the complete newscasts shot for the movie and includes bloopers throughout. They're entertaining to view and give you actually more of an idea of what a moron one of the newscasters is portrayed to be. A line included in the movie to depict this was "Helsinki, as in Sweden," and he's corrected that it's Finland. One of the lines not included in the film but included here, "I think it's safe to say that Gruber's terrorist actions in Los Angeles tonight are, well, terroristic." INTERACTIVE ARTICLES FROM AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER AND CINFEX MAGAZINE: I think it's valuable to include articles on DVDs for those who want to read them, but I do think it's difficult to read articles on a television. The one bonus here that I've not seen in other DVD features is the inclusion of photographs with captions from the original articles. STILL GALLERY: I always find it interesting to see still galleries from films included on DVDs. This one claims to have links to short presentations, but the presentations I tried to link to were other still shots with captions that were difficult to read. DVD-ROM LINKS AND GAME DEMOS: Sad to say, the Internet link included here is no longer a valid page. Considering the DVD was just released at the beginning of July, I would have thought the studio would keep the link active for quite some time. The game demos are for action-oriented PC games if you're interested in PC gaming.
Commentary The commentary options included on this DVD far surpass any I've ever seen before. The big bonus to commentary is the additional information you get. The one drawback to commentary is that if you don't know the movie very well, you have to watch the movie first, then watch with the commentary running OR you have to watch the film with subtitles on so you can follow the action. When I saw in the language options that there was a subtitle commentary, I was really excited. However, the subtitle commentary is different from the audio commentary and it runs much to fast to read while you're trying to follow the film. Commentary addicts could actually, if they wanted to, watch the film with the director's audio commentary running as well as the subtitle commentary. Mind you, you need to know the film really well at that point and you have to be great at listening and reading at the same time, but if you want that additional information, you're going to get a lot of it here.
Final Words: I think this is definitely a great buy. If you're going rental, make sure you have the rental for more than one day. It's going to take you quite some time to get through everything there is to see. I think the studio erred in not releasing the trilogy of DVDs as a set like it did with the videos, and this is one DVD junkie who will be really, really annoyed if she walks into Best Buy six months from now and sees all three films packaged together.

Send all Comments to Teakwood Productions
July 31, 2001