Fox // 1988 // 131 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Chief Justice Sean McGinnis (Retired) // April 20th, 1999
40 Stories of Sheer Adventure!
Bruce Willis certainly created a franchise with this movie, and very nearly created a genre of film. This movie has been often imitated, sometimes bettered (by its own offspring) but rarely equaled.
20th (21st?) Century Fox delivers the goods with this disc. The disc itself is THX mastered/certified and for those of you who believe this makes a difference it is a welcome development (wait till you see Die Hard With A Vengeance before passing judgment). In any case, the transfer of this disc, while not anamorphic, is simply stunning. I am NOT saying this could not have been improved upon with an anamorphic transfer, because I believe it could have. What I AM saying is that this is probably about as good as a standard letterbox transfer can get, at least until we can get a gander at the completely CGI transfer of A Bug's Life from Disney due to arrive any day now.
This disc includes a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that was stunning. The soundstage was wide and deep. Vocals were very clear with directional effects and big bangs in abundance. This is why we have spent all this money on gear, isn't it? To hear all the bangs and whizzes and broken glass and crashes and thrills on this disc?
No need to talk specifics about the story line here. If you haven't seen this movie yet, then you don't deserve to be told. We all know what happens to John McClane at the Nakatomi Plaza. In any event, Willis is actually quite brilliant, mixing his trademark wisecracks in with heart-pounding action sequences. This is a guys movie to the nth degree. This is the reason guys love movies.
The thing I love most about this disc is that Fox has stepped up to the plate with some fairly serious extras. Granted, this may not equal the extras on Blade or a few others, but at least its a step in the right direction. Included on the disc are a making of featurette, slide show, and trailers from all three Die Hard movies. Sure, I would have liked a commentary featuring director John McTiernan, Director of Photography Jan DeBont and Visual Effects Producer Richard Edlund, but you can't have everything.
Now that Fox has got on the bandwagon and produced a quality disc with some decent extras, it really makes me pine for the time when I can get my hands on a copy of the forthcoming Alien set. What with giving them the anamorphic treatment and a bevy of supplemental materials, these discs ought to be a real treat.
Well, as stated above about the only thing that recommends against this disc is a lack of commentaries. However, since it is highly unlikely that Fox will re-issue this disc or license it out for "better" treatment, this is the best we will see for a long time to come, if not ever. Snap this baby up and add it to the shelves!
This disc is a must have for fans of this series or for that matter action movies in general. This is the epitome of what an action movie should be. A hero placed in peril (several times) lots of bangs and crashes, great special effects, guns, chicks (oops wrong genre) and humor, all mixed up into a palatable drink -- kind of like a long island iced tea.
Acquitted on all counts. The prisoner is free to go!
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 131 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Original Theatrical Trailer