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January 6, 2008
Die Hard 2: Die Harder - Blu-Ray Movie Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
30/8/199012/12/2007FoxRenny Harlin
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master AudioMBruce Willis

With the success of Die Hard in the cinemas it wasn't a surprise that Fox would green light a sequel, and only two years later that sequel was also released to cinemas around the globe. It promised even more of everything, and for the most part delivered the goods. Not only did it cement Bruce Willis as an action star but also managed to take in a whopping $US239 million worldwide - almost double that of the original movie. If you haven't seen this movie then you should probably skip my summary, but needless to say, despite some flaws, Die Hard 2: Die Harder remains a very entertaining action movie and I was keen to check out this Blu-Ray disc from Fox.

A major international airport becomes the arena for terror as Detective John McClane is drawn into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with an elite special forces unit which has seized a bustling airport in Washington, D.C. Led by a maniacal former U.S. military officer, the group plans to intercept the extradition of a Central American strongman as he is brought into the United States for prosecution on drug charges. Their plan is swift, brutal and brilliant... but they didn't count on the presence of John McClane.

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How can the same thing happen to the same guy twice?
As a sequel Die Hard 2: Die Harder seems to do everything right. It's bigger, it's louder, it has more action sequences and it expands on the John McClane universe nicely. Unfortunately a part of the problem that I have with this movie is that it feels a little too over the top in places and looses some of the realism that the movie could have held. Perfect example is John's escape from Esperanza's planes cockpit. There are also a couple of plot holes that could shoot the movie in the foot a little bit - surely there were other airports the planes could divert to, or at the very least communicate with the planes.

Still despite these issues, Die Hard 2 remains an entertaining action movie with a few nice twists and turns and, yet again, a great supporting cast this time headlined by the very evil William Sadler as Colonel Stuart. Bonnie Bedelia returns as John McClane's wife, Dennis Franz as Captain Carmine Lorenzo the head of airport police, and William Atherton as the reporter Dick Thornburg. Even Reginald VelJohnson makes a cameo appearance as Sergeant Al Powell which certainly helps links the movies together in the Die Hard universe.

Encoded in AVC MPEG-4 and in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 Die Hard 2, with its runtime of runtime of 2:03:21, offers substantial improvements over the DVD release not only in terms of resolution but also colours and finer details. Having said that compared to the original Die Hard on Blu-Ray there are only subtle improvements with a slightly sharper image and finer details evident. I guess that given the short period of time between the movies cinematic releases that is understandable, and we certainly can't expect a brilliant transfer like the one offered in Die Hard 4.0.

The transfer for Die Hard 2: Die Harder has a minimal amount of film grain evident although there were some shots that looked a little soft compared to others. At times the image also appears to be a little too awash with colour at times while at other times the colour palette seems a little subdued, although this could be due to the heavy snow and blizzard used throughout the majority of the film with few daylight scenes. Overall I felt that the video quality on this disc, while very good, was a little inconsistent at times.

Audio on the Die Hard 2: Die Harder Blu-Ray disc is provided in DTS-HD Master Audio, with the Playstation 3 outputting the core DTS 1.5Mbps track. With Die Hard 2 now approaching 18 years of age it's not hard to understand that this movie doesn't have the same audio impact as newer movies however I was surprised that overall the audio seemed to be a little quite a bit duller then the original movie.

What do I mean by duller? Well effects don't seem to have the impact as other movies while the speech can sometimes sound a little muffled. One prime example - in terms of effects at least - is the shootout as the SWAT team heads towards the Antenna Array between 43:36 and 48:57. The gunshots sound somewhat muffled, as does the explosion of the Antenna outside. This transfer certainly doesn't have the punch of many other movies.

As with the first movie the other audio tracks are Italian and Spanish DTS tracks both encoded at 768kbps with each providing quite decent audio experience. Subtitles are provided in numerous languages including English for the Hearing Impaired.

Die Hard 2 on Blu-Ray includes several extras ported over from the Special Edition DVD release. Sadly the extras have not been re-encoded in High Definition however each has been re-encoded in AVC MPEG-4 for improved image quality over the DVD releases.

Commentary with Director Renny Harlin: A few weeks ago we reviewed Renny Harlin's latest movie The Covenant for Sony Pictures on Blu-Ray and mentioned that he was a bit dry to listen to, but had some interesting thoughts. The same is true with the track recorded for Die Hard 2. This commentary was actually recorded 10 years after he made the movie and so it is a bit of a retrospective look and he has trouble, on occasion, recalling some smaller details however it is an interesting commentary nonetheless with plenty of small details about production and plot. Renny even discusses shortcuts taken for pacing. For example he wasn't even sure if faxing fingerprints would even work, but they included that to keep the movies pace up!

Deleted Scenes (8:15): Four deleted scenes from the movie. To be honest each adds little to the storyline but it's nice to see them included. Presented in Standard Definition but encoded with the AVC coded for improved imaged quality.

HBO First Look: The Making of Die Hard 2 (23:08): A behind the scenes look at the making of the sequel. Being HBO it is a little 'promotional' however there are some interesting sections including the difficulties in filming snow when there was none! There are plenty of interviews with cast and crew. Obviously produced for TV the feature even has sections for ad breaks.

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It's cold, It's wet, It's a sequel!
Featurette (4:07): Basically a cut-down version of the HBO First Look with much of the same footage used.

The Bad Guys (6:39): A look at the bad guys in the movies and the actors that portray them. If you haven't seen the movies you'll see spoilers, if you have seen it you will know everything here anyway.

Breaking the Ice (4:10): Another brief look which focuses on the Ice sequences in the movie.

Chaos on the Conveyor Belt (7:53): A breakdown of the action that takes place on the Conveyor Belt in the Airport.

Interview with Renny Harlin (6:44): This interview with Renny Harlin has a couple of interesting bits, but most was discussed in the commentary, or seen in other featurettes on the disc.

Visual Effects Breakdown (8:15): Three sequences from the movie are shown in in various phases of production from storyboard to the final sequence.

Side-by Side Comparison (6:16): Split screen showing sequences from the movie including the helicopter over the jumbo wing, the plane crash and landings, and the fight on the planes wing.

Trailers and TV Spots (7:23): Promotional trailers and TV Spots for Die Hard 2. They are variable quality (one TV spot is Black and White for some reason), but great to see.

Theatrical Trailers (5:03/HD): Trailers for Die Hard, Live Free or Die Hard (Die Hard 4.0 for us here in Australia) and Aliens Vs Predator.

Personally I find Die Hard 2: Die Harder to be the weakest movie in the series, but it remains a very entertaining product in its own right. The set pieces are impressive and the storyline solid enough. The transfer to Blu-Ray still isn't perfect but is a dramatic improvement over the DVD release. Throw in some extras (recycled from the DVD release mind you) and this is another solid Blu-Ray release from Fox.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Fox. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.