Today's DVDs & Blu-rays: Why We Won't be Buying the Die Hard 25th Anniversary Collection, and a Look at Cherry Tree Lane and The Duelists
Dear 20th Century Fox - Sorry, but it's no sale for the Die Hard 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection. Not because we don't love Bruce Willis as the relentless New York City cop John McClane who never met a bad guy he didn't want to kill. We do. And not because the Die Hard series is dated. The storylines have, in fact, held up remarkably well over the last quarter of a century. (McClane's classic line, "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker," still works every time.) No, we're not buying the Die Hard 25th Anniversary Blu-ray Collection because, sorry to say, it ain't worth $60.
Like all good Die Hard fans, we purchased the previously released DVD and Blu-ray versions as they hit the market, so we already had a version of each film in our movie library. (Along with the individual releases, Fox issued a three-film box-set in 2007 and then a four-film collection in 2008.) What does the anniversary collection have that the previous releases don't have? Turns out, not much.
The quality of the first three films, Die Hard, Die Harder and Die Hard with a Vengence, is sub-par. What, you couldn't remaster them even just a little? Compared to the fourth installment in the series, Live Free or Die Hard, which still explodes off the screen, the first three visually limp along. Remember, today's audiences are used to CGI and 3D everything. Anything that isn't crystal clear and in double Dolby-surround sound should be regulated to the bargain bin. And $60, even if it is for a box set, isn't a bargain bin price.
There's nothing spectacular on the extras, nothing especially exciting about the version of each film. In fact, the set has the PG-version of Live Free or Die Hard. And worst of all, the next installment in the series, A Good Day to Die Hard, is set to hit the big screen in just a couple of weeks so we already know the collection is incomplete. (And please, don't pretend there won't be a Die Hard 1 to 5 box set coming out soon.)
So, the moral to this story, 20th Century Fox is this: give us something new and exciting for our money. Don't expect us to whip out our credit card if all you're offering is the same ol', same ol'. Can you hear that, Fox? That's the sound of us not spending money. Scary, isn't it?
Cherry Tree Lane
Hard-core gore fans will want to take a look at Cherry Tree Lane. Writer/director Paul Andrew Williams wrote the 2008 The Children and he does a fair job here. A suburban couple (Rachel Blake and Tom Butcher) are spending the night at home. Nothing much is happening, then the door bell rings and everything goes to hell. A gang of teenage thugs force their way into the home and hold the couple hostage while they wait on the pair's son to come home. Seems the son ratted out someone in the group and they've dropped by for a little payback. Gruesome, gory payback as it turns out.
The superstar cast of The Duellists, namely Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel, weren't superstars back in 1970 when director Ridley Scott cranked out his first film. They were, however, young and pretty - and already showing off major acting chops. The story follows D'Hubert (Carradine) and Feraud (Keitel), two officers in Napoleon's army who face off in a duel, and with neither getting what he considers to be satisfaction, carry on the feud for the next 30 years. It's a tangled story where pride is disguised as honor, and rage mistaken for courage. It's an interesting look at Carradine, Keitel and Scott in the beginning of what were to become impressive careers.
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