Test Disc #4 : Die Hard 4K Blu-ray
Die Hard still ranks among the best action films ever. So how well does this 4K restoration fare?
An action classic
Bruce Willis’s John Mcclane flies to Los Angeles to spend time with his wife (Bonnie Bedelia), but the proverbial hits the fan at the Nakatomi Corp’s Christmas party when a group of terrorists led by Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) storm the building.
As a film, Die Hard countered the excess of the ’80s. You had a character that was more vulnerable – an empathetic action hero. Seeing him up against it, outmanned and outgunned, is what makes the film so enjoyable. It’s the perfect encapsulation of the right man in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Willis is compelling and the acting is good throughout, with plenty of other characters and mini-stories to keep your interest. Even in the shadow of modernday action films, it’s a formidable piece of cinema. There’s humour, classic lines of dialogue and one of the great screen villains. A lean piece of cinema that moves at a brisk pace, it’s that rare action film that manages to balance smarts and excitement.
This is a new 4K scan of the original film negative and the gains are noticeable. It’s a softer, brighter image that’s more exacting in detail. HDR and WCG implantation has increased the range of tones, making for strong, well defined colours.
Brighter colours pop better, while darker areas of the image have a new solidity and definition to them. Textures of surfaces, objects and the questionable ’80s fashion are more accurately revealed. The film grain gives the presentation a textured and cinematic feel. Skin tones are more pronounced, while blacks are solidly rendered. Whites grab your attention more and clarity is better too. You can make out more detail and, in some instances, colour from faces and surfaces. It’s a nicely textured cinematic image.
A standard sound mix
Die Hard comes with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track and it’s a satisfying presentation. It’s well defined and dynamically capable, but the movie deserves an audio upgrade. Detail is fine, though effects sound their age. There’s a vigorous sense of energy on display during action scenes, with explosions that are big and impactful but the track lacks activity in the bass and there’s not much use of the surround channels either. This is more of a showcase for your fronts and centre channel, which offer decent clarity, and basic placement of effects. Michael Kamen’s score echoes Beethoven’s Ode To Joy and is a near-constant and forceful presence across the front array. Dialogue is clear and distinct. An enjoyable listen, then, but an Atmos or DTS:X track could have been great.