Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray that celebrates the 30th anniversary of the film that launched the billion-dollar action franchise and made a star of Bruce Willis.
Studio and Year:
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
20th Century Fox - 1988
Feature running time:
English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1, Dolby Surround
English SDH, Spanish, French
Bruce Willis, Bonnie Bedelia, Alan Rickman, Alexander Godunov, Reginald Vel Johnson, William Atherton
Jeb Stuart, Steven E. deSouza based on the novel by Roderick Thorp
May 15, 2018
"Yipee Ki Yay"
Bruce Willis stars as New York City cop John McClane, off-duty, and visiting his wife in L.A., McClane finds himself in the line of fire when a group of terrorists seize an office building, trapping him, his estranged wife (Bonnie Bedelia) and dozens of party-goers inside. As hostages are rounded up, McClane slips away and, armed with only a service weapon, launches his own one-man war.
I am most definitely a Die Hard fan. I saw Die Hard
in the theater back in 1988 and was instantly hooked. Back then action flicks were predominantly led by larger than life characters with muscles to spare and enough glitz to power a city. Enter John McClane, a seemingly affable everyman with a non-imposing physique and bad habits. Prior to Die Hard my experience with Bruce Willis consisted of catches glimpses of him on TV’s Moonlighting and a movie (comedy) called “Blind Date” with Kim Basinger. I didn’t have a problem seeing him in a role such as this but honestly wasn’t expecting much.
Of course, my expectations were far exceeded. Die Hard was edgy, clever and dynamic as it plied us with engaging action, wonderfully integrated heart/humor and an iconic character that would go on to reshape the genre. Filled with classic lines and memorable moments it felt so fresh/entertaining and left audiences hankering for more. I love the Die Hard for many things but, key among them is for giving us the villain of Hans Gruber. Hands down, the late Alan Rickman owns this character and is one of the contributing factors that make Die Hard so good. Die Hard
would spawn numerous sequels and capture the enduring devotion of hordes of fans the world over. It truly is a classic.
This film contains strong violence, drug content, partial nudity and pervasive language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
UHD Presentation: 88
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency effects:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialog Reproduction:
- DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA
Die Hard comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound.
- HDR: Dark Highlights:
- HDR: Bright Highlights:
- HDR: Expanded Color & WCG:
- Visual Impact:
Diehard recently underwent a 4K re-mastering and its presentation on Ultra HD Blu-ray was derived from that process.
It's important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like Die Hard has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won't result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn't a problem and shouldn't be seen as such.
I have seen Die Hard countless times in standard and high definition. Frankly, it has never been a very good-looking film but, I had high hopes for its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray. Looking at the film's opening moments aboard the airplane and later during the limo ride, the improvement in depth and delineation was noticeable but, not to a high degree. As the film went on things improved. When the limo arrives at Nakatomi Plaza the image’s beautiful sepia and refined sharpness looked wonderful.
Die Hard is not an overtly bright film, although there are bright elements. The film’s cinematography benefited from the enhanced resolution and warmer chromatic accents. In many respects, the image is emboldened with a discernible boost to definition, although this can be scene and sometimes frame specific. Color reproduction benefited from the wider color gamut, especially blues, and reds which pop nicely. The wide-angle shots of the skyline and the interior of the unfinished areas of Nakatomi looked great. I noticed that film grain took on more emphasis here and there which some may interpret as background noise, but I didn’t detect any extraneous noise.
High dynamic range added a tangible visual element that enriched both natural and artificial light. Bright highlights, such as flashes of light from explosions, sparks and muzzle blasts appeared vibrant, while dark highlights were rendered with appreciable dimension, especially when coupled with brighter visual elements. There were times where I felt as though I was rediscovering this film all over again.
Hands down, this is the best Die Hard has looked on home video. While the difference between it and its 1080p rendering aren’t night and day the improvement is enough to warrant attention. Kudos to Fox Home Entertainment for giving this the treatment it deserves. Hopefully we can expect continued support of the Ultra HD releases from their extensive catalog.
The high resolution DTS-HD MA audio mix is the same one found on the previous Blu-ray release. It does a nice job rendering the 30-year-old soundtrack. Dialog has discernible intonation, with distinctive clarity and above average room penetration. This is a more or less front oriented presentation that makes effective use of the entire system to deliver the action-based components which are highlighted by solid impact, defining clarity, and the memorable music score. Dynamic range is good, although the limitation inherent in the original recording is noticeable but, not defining. Surround activity isn’t constant but when applied can be copious as discernible spatial ambience and discrete sounds fill the listening area.
The LFE channel is similarly used to punctuate sound effects like explosions, gunfire and roaring flames. The soundtrack contains a variety of audio cues/spatial dimension that extend the soundstage. This includes the envelopment provided by the music as well as the discrete placement of sounds that travel from one side of the soundfield to the other. Imaging across the front is definitive while front to rear integration isn’t quite as cohesive as occasionally, sounds mixed to the rear channels can be a bit more prominent which skews balance. The overall effect doesn’t prove overtly distracting though. At the end of the day it’s a complimentary surround mix.
For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:
Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
- Disc 1: Diehard Ultra HD Blu-ray
- Disc 2: Diehard Blu-ray
• 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
• The News Casts Featurette
• Interactive Style Gallery
• Interactive Articles from Cinefex and American Cinematographer
• Full-Length Screenplay
• Trailers & TV Spots
- Digital Copy
is a beloved and highly successful film with a timeless appeal that has endured over the 30 years since we first met John McClane. Its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray in this Combo Pack from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment offers fans a chance to see it looking its best. The legacy bonus supplements are the same as those found on the previous Blu-ray and also includes a Digital Copy. For devoted fans equipped for Ultra HD Blu-ray this is a no brainer.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems