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Whenever a film makes a ton of money at the box-office, Hollywood is guaranteed to produce a sequel. The only possible exception being TITANIC, however I sure someone in Hollywood is beating their head against the wall trying to overcome the fact that the ship sank, and the film's hero died. Oh well, the eventuality of the sequel brings us to DIE HARD 2- a film that Hollywood couldn't help but produce. Where the original DIE HARD was a smart and innovative action movie, DIE HARD 2 requires that one lock the logic circuits of their brain in a box for the duration of the film. Sure, DIE HARD 2 is action packed and fairly entertaining, but the story has holes in it that one could fly an asteroid the size of Texas through.

For the second installment in the series, Bruce Willis returns to the role of John McClane, the New York police detective who single handedly overcame a group of terrorists that seized a Los Angeles office building and in the process rescued his estranged wife. This time out, we find that John McClane is now a L.A. cop and he has reconciled with his wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia). Things are looking up, and John is looking forward to spending a quiet Christmas with his in-laws. However, while waiting at the Washington D.C. airport for the arrival of his wife's plane, John discovers that a group of terrorists have seized the airport. For John, this will be another Christmas Eve where he is forced to put in a little unpaid overtime. Not only does John have to go up against a squad of renegade commando terrorists; he also has to butt heads with the airport's know-it-all police chief Carmine Lorenzo (Dennis Franz). Things only get worse as the terrorists lock out all communications and the air traffic control system, forcing planes to circle the airport until the run out of fuel and start dropping from the sky. Director Renny Harlin keeps the action flying past the viewer at a breakneck pace, however plenty of action doesn't make up for some of the deficiencies in the story. Also, William Sadler's turn as the film's one dimensional villain, will have fans longing for Alan Rickman. The cast of DIE HARD 2 also features Reginald VelJohnson, William Atherton, Franco Nero, John Amos, Art Evans and Fred Dalton Thompson.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made DIE HARD 2 available on DVD in a fine looking Letterboxed transfer. Since DIE HARD 2 is missing the 16:9 anamorphic enhancement, it would appear that this DVD utilized the same master that Fox created for their THX certified Laserdisc re-issue of the film from a couple of years back. The wide screen presentation recreates the film's 2.35:1 theatrical framing quite admirably, without any noticeable cropping. Color reproduction on the DVD is excellent, rendering the nicely saturated hues without any distortion or chroma noise. Even the hot colors, which could have been problematic, show no signs of bleeding. Additionally, the image is quite sharp and the level of detail is high. Compression artifacts were virtually undetectable thanks to solid DVD authoring and the use of dual layer technology. Layer switching was fairly smooth and really didn't disturb the flow of the film.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack features a dependable action movie mix. Channel separation is very effective across the front soundstage and the surrounds do a kicking job of drawing the viewer into the action. Dialogue sounds natural and doesn't get buried in the busy mix. Bass is tight and full and enhances both the sounds of gunfire and explosions. Matrixed English and French Dolby Surround soundtracks have also been provided, as have English and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus contain a bit of animation and sound. Through the menus one can access the standard scene and language selection features, plus trailers for the entire DIE HARD trilogy, a short featurette, a slide show and cast biographies/filmographies. DIE HARD 2 is available on DVD individually for $29.98, or as part of DIE HARD TRILOGY box set for $79.98.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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