Review Archives

1 | 2 | 3

Today's Date is:

Die Hard: Special Edition

Reviewed by: Kyra Kirkwood
Genre: Action
Video: Anamorphic 1.85:1 Widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Language: English. French
Subtitle: English. Spanish
Length: 2 hours, 12 minutes
Rating: R
Release Date: July 10, 2001
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Commentary: Audio commentary with director John McTiernan and production designer Jackson DeGovia. Screen-specific audio commentary with visual effects producer Richard Edlund.
Documentaries: None
Featurettes: A promotional-type feature
Filmography/Biography: None
Interviews: Of the cast and crew on the promotional featurette
Trailers/TV Spots: Seven television spots, three theatrical trailers
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: A really amazing "extended branching version" with additional scenes from the "power shutdown" sequence edited seamlessly back into the film.
Music Video: None
Other: This is a must-own two-disc set, with an entire DVD devoted to extras such as an "editing workshop" and an audio re-mixing sequence. It's like film school on a disc. Other features include the full-length screenplay (which is very easy to read), an interactive stills gallery, DVD-ROM games, deleted lines and scenes, game demos and newscasts.
Cast and Crew: Bruce Willis, Alexander Godunov, Bonnie Bedelia, Alan Rickman
Screenplay by: Jeb Stuart, Steven E. De Souza
Produced by: Joel Silver and Lawrence Gordon
Directed By: John McTiernan
Music: John McTiernan
The Review: Willis plays John McClane, a feisty and crusty New York policeman on his way to visit his estranged wife Holly in California, where she is quickly and expertly climbing the corporate ladder. Just minutes after arriving at the downtown office building, where Holly and her fellow co-workers are enjoying a Christmas Eve party, all hell breaks loose. In a mastermind plan, the building and its inhabitants are taken hostage by terrorists-and of course this is done with lots of gunplay and explosions. McClane, who was in the bathroom "making fists with his toes" on the carpet, as urged to do by a fellow plane traveler earlier that day, escapes the floor unnoticed (yet still barefoot). With the entire office under terrorist control (and there are a lot of those gun-wielding men), it's up to McClane to save the day. Which of course he does, single-handedly. His only link to the world outside is through a hand-held radio (stolen from a terrorist he killed); it's here that John communicates with Al, a behind-the-desk cop. Alan Rickman plays the evil Hans, the leader of the terrorists who aren't in this for the release of fellow "freedom fighters," as the gang wants the cops to believe. Instead, it's all about money-a lot of money. Any viewer of the "Die Hard" series knows the films have plenty of bloodshed and lots of warfare. As the original theatrical trailers said, "it'll blow you to the back of the theater."
Image and Sound Fox just keeps DVD lovers pleased as punch. This "Die Hard" version is part of the studio's "Five Star Collection," and it's rightly placed in the DVD Hall of Fame. The double-disc set is a DVD lovers dream; the image and sound are better than they were on the big screen. The anamorphic transfer is the poster child for all DVDs out there. The picture is crisp and clear, the special effects flawless. With all the explosions and gunfire, the sound quality is really put to the test, and it passed with straight A's. The sound is in both Dolby Digital and DTS, and Karmen's soundtrack provides all-encompassing music paired with the sensory-stimulating special effects. One of the best features on the disc (No. 2) is a little tidbit where viewers get to fully see and understand the difference between widescreen/letterbox ("those funny black lines along the top and bottom of the screen") and "pan-and-scan" (where the picture fills up the entire TV screen. Although it's obvious the crew prefers widescreen in order to preserve the original intent and flow of the picture, they explain both filming aspects and how they're each done. It's a great teaching tool.
The Extras Where do I start? First off, plan a few hours if you want to watch this entire two-disc version, from opening film credits to the DVD-ROM features. It's an amazing set, complete with everything a DVD-or film-lover could want. The best part I feel was the "editing workshop" feature on Disc 2. This is where you can have some fun playing film editor. A series of outtakes is available for viewers to choose a handful, place them in order and then view the "final cut" of this scene created specifically by the viewer, sitting at home with a remote control. It's amazing to see how different-or similar-your scene is compared to those chosen by McTiernan and the gang. The three sequences to choose from are when McClane is in the airshaft and two featuring the bad guys in the boardroom. There are plenty of different angles, close-ups, points-of-view and dialog changes to choose from. I became addicted to this feature! It made me want to enroll in film school. Another notable feature was the audio mix section. Set up in a similar fashion to the editing workshop, this feature allows viewers to turn off three basic ingredients in any sound set up: dialog, sound effects and music. You get to hear only the gunfire, only the music or just the talking during a specific scene. In addition, there's an extended branching version of the film in "The Vault," which opens up Disc 2. Featuring the "power outage" sequence in the movie, the branching version shows a slightly longer scene, with one part in black and white because it was cut out well before the final draft of the movie. Viewers can also link to this branching version while watching the movie on Disc 1.
Commentary Director McTiernan and production designer Jackson DeGovia produce a feature-length audio commentary and it's informative. Of course, if you compare it to the total interactivity and enjoyablity of the rest of the "Die Hard" discs, then you're bound to be disappointed. But hey, this is an audio commentary by the brains behind the "Die Hard" franchise, so there are lots of informative nuggets of information inside, albeit inside of a rather dry commentary. Viewers get the low-down on why a certain scene was shot this way as well as why the scene was shot at all. Other commentaries include special effects supervisor Richard Edlund, who produces scene-specific commentary when necessary (like during the heavy special-effects scenes).
Final Words: Buy it. Don't wait. No DVD library is complete without this latest "Die Hard" release. Fox has once again raised the bar for other studios, and DVD-philes out there can rejoice. This "Die Hard" set is one to be treasured.

Send all Comments to Teakwood Productions
July 17, 2001