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Die Hard 3

List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Aaron Beierle | posted January 5, 2000 | E-mail the Author
The Film:
The most recent in the whole "Die Hard" series stars again, Bruce Willis, but this time he's teamed up with Samuel L. Jackson in what seems like an attempt at a buddy movie. Willis's character is supposed to be "hungover" throughout the film, but it's Willis who seems just that: tired. As this "Die Hard" takes place all across New York City, Willis's McClaine character just seems exhausted here. Exhausted not from only all that running, but from a fairly repetitive and tiring screenplay by Jonathan Hensleigh. The first film was good, the second film was great.... but this film simply doesn't work. Jackson and Willis have no chemistry as a "buddy-buddy" team and Jeremy Irons gets quite annoying as a "bad guy" who taunts McClaine with rhymes.

Suddenly, "Die Hard 3" begins with finding detective John McClaine as a complete alcoholic, as the sort of unfunny running joke throughout the film has Willis's character asking everyone around him if they have any asprin. After quite a short time, I was also needing asprin while watching this film. There's a couple of action sequences that are thrilling in this film, such as a subway train screaming across the platform and taking out half the station, but there are more than a few times in between the action sequences that are way too slow; there could have been a lot of trimming done in this over two hour film. Willis and Jackson argue back and forth in exchanges of dull dialogue.

"Die Hard 3" is really everything that could go wrong with the sort of 80's action film genre that the series started; weak dialogue, an uninteresting villian and action sequences that aren't fresh or interesting. It's especially the fault of Irons, who is a great actor miscast in the role of a villian. His sort of charismatic "charm" here seems quite lacking compared to the sort of similar cold charm that John Travolta was able to so easily bring to his role as the villian in another action film that came out around the same time, "Broken Arrow". This film also doesn't have a pacing that works, and that's what's essential to every action film; that sort of all-out speed that made actioners like "Speed" and "Broken Arrow" and even the original film in this series work so well.

The DVD:
Image Quality: Nothing very special at all. Strangely, the most recent film in the series gets the most unappealing transfer. The 2.35:1 transfer is spread across two layers of a dual layer disc. Colors are clear, but not vivid. The blues of the sky lack any sort of snap. There is no bleeding or problems of that sort with the colors, but they are only just a part of the greater problem: a disc with images that seem a little on the soft and grainy side; the disc just seems to lack definition and sharpness; although the picture is clear, there isn't anything special about it. Anamorphic enhancement would definitely improve the image quality here, which is the complaint I had about the disc for "Die Hard 2", but at least the image quality on that disc seemed to be, overall, a bit more pleasing. Black level in the image is not very definitive either. There are several instances where shimmering is a problem enough to be noticeable. There are very slight artifacts in a few of the low-light scenes, but the bigger problem here is the general lack of any sort of energy in the color palette on this disc. Skin tones are adequate, but not perfect and contrast and color saturation are only of average quality. This is what happens when anamorphic enhancement isn't used. The original source for this disc doesn't seem to be of the utmost quality, either. If an anamorphic transfer was used, this disc would have had a much more pleasing appearance, but at the level it currently is, I still wouldn't think it would be flawless after enhancement. There are occasionally scenes towards the end of the movie that look better than the others, but overall, the appearance of the colors is not pleasing on this disc, which overall looks washed out. In a time where discs are produced so nicely by New Line, Tristar and Warner that a grade of a "B" is *very* average, this very barely recieves a B-. Definitely below average.

Audio Quality: Somewhat dissapointing. Explosions don't have much of an impact and gunfire seems to be rather lackluster in detail and unexciting. This is not a disc where I felt enveloped in the listening experience; even the dialogue seems to lack volume and clarity and frequently, I felt like I was missing dialogue here and there. The score sounds full, but doesn't have a crispness of the usual disc I've listened to lately. There isn't any distortion throughout the disc, but I wasn't as impressed with the force or bass of the action sequences on this disc as I was throughout watching, for example, "Die Hard 2" or definitely, the incredible audio of "Broken Arrow". Occasionally, I felt entertained by the sound mix such as when McClaine is in the middle of a car chase or the final boat sequence where McClaine must escape, but again, it just doesn't seem as much of a force as I'd have expected from an action disc like this. Like the movie, the sound on this disc just doesn't spark.

Extras:A very short featurette, trailers for all 3 films of the series, photo gallery.

Menus: Animated menus that are fairly nice and easy to navigate.

Layer Change: A fairly poorly placed layer change in the middle of a scene at 56:06. The film stops for a solid second while the layer changes.

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