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It is an ordinary summer day. But then, without warning, something very extraordinary happens. Enormous shadows fall across the land. Strange atmospheric phenomena, ominous and mesmerizing, surface around the globe. All eyes turn upward. The question of whether we're alone in the universe has finally been answered. And, in a matter of minutes, the lives of every person across the globe are forever changed. With the fate of our planet at stake, the Fourth of July is about to take on an entirely new meaning. No longer will it be an American holiday. It will be known as the day the entire world fought back. The day we did not go gentle into the good night... The day all of us on planet Earth celebrated our independence day.
For more about Independence Day and the Independence Day Blu-ray release, see Independence Day Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 10, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Robert Loggia
Director: Roland Emmerich
» See full cast & crew
Independence Day Blu-ray Review
One of the greatest popcorn flicks ever arrives in a spectacular Blu-ray package.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 10, 2008
The question of whether or not we are alone in the universe has been answered.
In the summer of 1996, audiences poured into theaters for a chance to see in Independence Day (or ID4) something like they'd never quite seen before, an alien invasion movie with all the bells and whistles of a high dollar summer popcorn sci-fi adventure, replete with state-of-the-art visual effects, ready to witness the total destruction of cities around the world and high-flying aerial battles between man and extraterrestrial as only Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich could create. Of course, these two are not world-renowned for making classy, high-art films, but rather some of the best, most enthralling popcorn flicks ever, including Stargate, Godzilla, and The Patriot. I was one of the millions of moviegoers at this one, and as the target demographic (teenage male), I left thoroughly impressed. Even though the film is severely flawed (I noted a few inconsistencies then and a boatload of them now), the movie just does its job, delivering edge-of-your-seat excitement, wit, well enough developed characters, and a "wow" and "cool" factor that, for me, remains second to none as far as big summer movies go. I've seen better since, but nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever duplicate the feeling I had seeing this one for this first time.
On July 2nd (presumably 1996), millions of Americans awoke to news I for one have been wanting to wake up to my entire life: aliens have arrived on Earth. At first, confusion reigns as television signals become spotty and intermittent, and only a handful of government officials and S.E.T.I. (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) workers really know what's happening. By the time alien craft are clearly seen entering Earth's atmosphere and settling over major world cities like New York, Washington, D.C, Los Angeles, Baghdad, and Moscow, panic has set in as people try to escape the phenomenon. Some embrace it, holding parties on rooftops, welcoming the visitors, while others fire their weapons at the crafts, against the wishes of local law enforcement who fear such activity may "trigger an interstellar war." Amidst the chaos, brainiac and environmentalist David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum, The Fly) discovers an imbedded signal in our own satellite system, a countdown, he must assume, to our own annihilation. Luckily, his ex-wife Constance (Margaret Colin, The Devil's Own) works with the President of the United States, Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman, Wyatt Earp), and Levinson is able to meet and convince the President that worldwide destruction is imminent. After barely escaping the destruction, the President orders a counterattack involving the remnants of the U.S. Air Force. A complete failure and utter disaster, the day is lost and only one pilot, hotshot Steven Hiller (Will Smith, I Am Legend), survives. He must work together with Levinson and Whitmore to discover the secret of the aliens and save Earth from total devastation.
Replete with exciting visuals, a fast moving pace (even though the movie clocks in at well over two hours), and endless action, Independence Day brings out the kid in me, the kid who loved (and still does) Star Wars, space ships, laser guns, and military hardware. What nerd who grew up in the 1980s wouldn't love this stuff? I sure did, and I always will. Could this movie have been better? You bet. But then again, what would make it better for me would make it lousy for someone else, so why even think about messing with a good thing? Devlin and Emmerich have proven themselves, along with Blu-ray hero Michael Bay, to be the best in the business when it comes to making loud, exciting summer films, and ID4 ranks among the very best of the best. From the use of R.E.M.'s It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine) early in the picture to a stirring speech by the President near its end, the movie easily brings a smile to my face for the entire runtime of the picture. What could be better than that?
It's my opinion that those that find looking over the numerous plot holes in this movie too difficult, choosing instead to heap on the criticism of this movie are completely missing the point. Films such as this one aren't meant to be highbrow art. Not everything can be (nor should it be) The Discrete Charm of the Bourgeoisie, The Seventh Seal, or even Alien. Sometimes, just accepting a movie for what it is rather than tearing it apart and missing out on all the fun just does a disservice to both audience and to the film. Taken as a big, ridiculous sci-fi/action extravaganza (which it is and doesn't even try to be anything else), Independence Day works like a charm. Sure, some of the plot holes are big enough for the aforementioned Godzilla to walk through, but who cares? The movie is fun, loud, entertaining, and appealing. Not everyone will see it the same way I do, and so be it. I hold no grudge against them, but I believe they're missing out on one of the all-time great popcorn movies.
Independence Day Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p high definition and in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, Independence Day on Blu-ray sports a very good transfer, but one that also shows the film's age. While detailed and clean, the image isn't as sharp and distinct as I would have hoped, but that is not to say it's bad. Far from it, in fact, when you consider the film is now twelve years old, this is one heck of a good-looking catalogue title. Colors are vivid and natural, looking mostly realistic, regardless of the tint of the image on display. There are several very distinct lighting schemes seen throughout, and each holds up very well in high-definition. Be it the blue glow of the lights of the alien spacecraft, the harsh, bright sunlight of the Nevada desert, the dank interiors of the alien craft, the well-lit White House, or the fluorescent lighting of underground bunkers, the lighting scheme in each of these scenes brings a distinct visual flair to the picture and each appears graceful and true to their source. The level of detail is very good in this one. It fails to live up to some of the best I've seen on the format, but once again, taking the age of the movie into account, this one is darn good. Clarity and depth are solid, as are the black levels. Skin tones appear to be natural and pleasant, and the aliens look appropriately cold, slimy, and unrefined. Perhaps the only negative is that this Blu-ray rendition of the film is of such high quality that several effects shots that have always appeared questionable at best really stand out as über-fake here, notably a scene where Jasmine's dog jumps for safety at the last moment from a fire in a tunnel, or several shots of what is clearly a matte painting, such as a scene inside a hangar with Air Force One parked outside, courtesy of talented special effects wizards. All in all, this is easily the very best that this film has ever looked for the home theater market. I've owned this film on several formats, namely VHS, LaserDisc, and DVD, watched it well over a dozen times, and this edition simply blows them all out of the water. If you are a fan of this film in any way, shape, or form, this transfer is definitely worth an upgrade from any previous edition.
Independence Day Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Simply stated, Independence Day on Blu-ray is a deafening, high-powered listening experience. Anyone interested in what is perhaps the loudest, most powerful track yet on Blu- ray needs to stop reading and hurry out and buy this demo-worthy disc. Still not convinced? You will be after the opening moments of this DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix as bass literally rattles your chest, but cleanly and distinctly, never going for broke and simply sending a signal to the subwoofer to shake and rattle at will. Instead, we get powerful but clean bass, bass that will put the absolute best subwoofers and amplifiers to the test, and by the end of the movie, both will be screaming for mercy and kindly ask that you watch No Reservations ten times in a row, as a way of taking some much needed R&R following the harrowing audio experience delivered by ID4. I wouldn't be surprised if home theater stores across the country and around the world pop in a copy of ID4 for the next several years when they demo subwoofers in their store. The bass is that boisterous, and even if you hate the movie but love a good dead-wakening soundtrack, this one's for you. Bass isn't the only thing this one has going for it. There is a major sound presence in the rear channels throughout, creating a captivating and completely engulfing experience. Music blends into the rears naturally, and effects, of course, zoom and whizz over your shoulder throughout, making for a head-turning and exciting listen. Every sound moves seamlessly from one speaker to the next for a top-flight aural experience, be it the sound of alien or human weaponry, the roar of human jets and the whoosh of alien craft, or long, drawn out explosions. Dialogue is crystal clear, rarely ever lost in the mayhem of the track, and even the subtleties of the track work to create a convincing and enthralling experience. There may be a few other tracks that sound a bit cleaner and more realistic than this one, but if you want a true high-definition, foundation shaking, heart-pounding, no-nonsense, rip-roaring good time of a soundtrack, Independence Day on Blu-ray fits the bill perfectly.
Independence Day Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Independence Day enters our atmosphere on Blu-ray with a decent helping of extra material. First up are two feature-length commentary tracks. The first features director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin. Their descriptive detailing of the on-screen action includes interesting background information. Plenty of other films are mentioned throughout the track, including how the film plays homage to Star Wars and similarities with Contact, and even stealing a set from Crimson Tide. The track is marred with some moments of dead air. Little tidbits like this abound, making for a very interesting and very watchable commentary, despite Emmerich's monotone voice. The second track features the visual effects supervisors, Volker Engel and Doug Smith. This is mostly a play-by-play of the effects, how they were created, and how they were implemented into the picture. A rather dull track, only hardcore fans with plenty of time on their hands will want to give this one a listen.
Next up is an original game entitled Alien Scavenger Hunt. Users are prompted to find a dozen items throughout the film by placing them in the crosshairs with the remote and selecting them by pressing enter. Finding all twelve objects will yield an exclusive video clip. The twelve items players must find are listed at the bottom of the screen throughout the movie, and users can save their progress to continue. I'd term this more "tedious" than "fun," and definitely not something I'd want to spend 2+ hours on. For comparison's sake, I found the "D-File" feature on Disney's Enchanted more appealing and worthwhile. Next up is the ID4 Datastream Trivia Track, your standard-fare pop-up track that runs over the length of the film. The text is a bit small but readable, offering up some nice tidbits about many aspects of the film. Three trailers and a teasers for ID4, and trailers for other Fox titles on Blu-ray, including Alien Vs. Predator, The Fly, I, Robot, Planet of the Apes, Predator, and X-Men: The Last Stand are also provided.
The disc also features a keyword search with literally hundreds of words in a list, arranged alphabetically, from "Aerial Dogfight/Chase" to "Wilder, Captain Jimmy." Upon selecting one, we are able to view every scene these people, places, or events appear in. There is also a bookmark feature, allowing users to save their favorite scenes for immediate viewing later on. Finally, this disc is D-Box equipped for those who have this technology available to them.
Independence Day Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Replete with exciting but dated visual effects, witty banter amongst apocalypse survivors, finely choreographed aerial battles, cool looking aliens, and plenty of stand-up-and-cheer moments, ID4 is a film that'll get the heart racing, the blood pumping, and bring a smile to an awful lot of faces. Independence Day, as it was on LaserDisc and DVD, may very well be one of a select handful of discs worthy of being the quintessential, go-to, "show off your system" disc. No, it doesn't offer the very best in high definition, but it comes close. The advantage to using a movie such as this is the widespread appeal and knowledge of the film. I'm pretty sure everyone and their dog has seen this movie, and probably more than once for many. I've personally seen it theatrically, on VHS, LaserDisc, DVD, television, and now Blu-ray. The movie is loads of fun, even if it's jaw-droppingly ridiculous at times, but that's OK. It's the epitome of the feel good popcorn movie, and it remains one of my favorites. For this Blu-ray edition, the movie isn't the only thing that will send shivers up and down your spine. The video quality looks great for a film of this age, even though the super high quality shows all the warts and outdated visual effects. The sound is ridiculously loud and powerful, a perfect way to rattle the foundation of the house, wake the neighbors, and bring a huge smile to the face of any home theater owner. A decent amount of supplements round out a strong package, and Independence Day is, in my opinion, a must-own disc for any serious Blu-ray or home theater enthusiast. Very highly recommended!
Independence Day: Other Editions
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Independence Day Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Independence Day 2 Gets Official Release Date - June 21, 2013
20th Century Fox announced earlier today that the highly anticipated sequel to German director Roland Emmerich's mega-blockbuster Independence Day will arrive in U.S. theaters on July 3, 2015. Director Emmerich will once again be behind the camera, but at the moment ...
• HiHD: Independence Day Features Revealed - March 7, 2008
Over at Hollywood in Hi-Def, Scott Hettrick has posted some video he shot when Van Ling, one of the prominent producers of extra content for home video releases, came to his home to show off the special features of the upcoming Fox Blu-ray release of 'Independence ...
• Independence Day Re-Announced for March 11th - December 31, 2007
Fox Home Entertainment has announced that the highly anticipated Blu-ray release of 'Independence Day' will hit store shelves on March 11th. The release was initially delayed due to compatibility issues with some players. It seems now that those issues have been ...
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