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Independence Day: 20th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)

independence-day coverNothing says great Blu-ray release like the announcement of a sequel or remake to lead to this happening. Soon we will have a follow-up to one of the biggest blockbusters of the 90s with Independence Day: Resurgence and that has led to a new release of Independence Day, complete with an all new transfer for both versions of the film, new extras and plenty of other things to make me happy. I am an unabashed fan of the film and it’s great to have a terrific new release of it. Dig in to learn more about the new edition of this alien invasion/disaster movie spectacle.

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Film:

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I remember seeing Independence Day on its opening night with my uncle back in 1996. The scene following the initial alien attack faded in with a shot of the Statue of Liberty having fallen down and the audience sitting in silence (except for one guy who yelled, “Oh sh**!.” It was a level of shock not seen before, which was rounded out by groundbreaking visual effects, a great cast of character actors and upcoming global movie star Will Smith, and a story that was tremendously entertaining. This film had it all for 10-year old me and was easily my favorite movie outside of the Star Wars Trilogy and Indiana Jones back then.

Fortunately time has been good to Independence Day. Sure, it is cheesy at times, has a wildly over-the-top score (although I don’t know what else would fit) and cashes in on melodrama a lot. That said, the film still looks great. Much like Terminator 2, Independence Day holds up well today thanks to a heavy reliance on practical effects to go with the elements of CG in play. As a result, there is a real weight to the action we see and it is made even better by all the personality director Roland Emmerich inserts into the film.

The story is standard stuff, but we get a good 45 minutes of character work before the action really kicks into gear. The U.S. President (Bill Pullman), a computer expert and his father (Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch), a fighter pilot (Will Smith) and a drunk veteran (Randy Quaid) all get caught up in the global event that is the arrival of aliens in giant spaceships. These aliens turn out to be unfriendly, leading to massive destruction and the eventual plan for how humans fight back.

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What elevates the material are all the actors (and more) who I mentioned and the choice to make an alien invasion film that doubles as an Irwin Allen-style disaster film. Let’s get back to the actors though. Emmerich allowed for a lot of improvisation and it leads to plenty of wonderful moments that are easily the ones you call back to when thinking of the film. Who was where during what attack is one thing, but the banter between Goldblum and Smith, Goldblum and Hirsch, Smith and Harry Connick Jr. and everyone else is something else. Even in the most desperate of times in the film, it never loses a sense of humor and helps make the film so wildly watchable.

Then you think of the destruction that takes place and while we may have seen endless explosions that take out major landmarks in films at this point, Independence Day was a film that really defined what audiences would expect for years to come, when it came to earth-based films functioning on a grand scale. Add to that some enjoyable dogfights between jets and alien spaceships and you get plenty of balance between character moments and action.

Many who did not write off Independence Day seem to look at the film as a guilty pleasure and I’ll never understand it. I don’t feel any shame for watching a major blockbuster that is this satisfying to watch. From the multiple times I saw the film in theaters to the VHS copy (complete with holographic cover) that I watched plenty, it’s been a movie that always works for me. It has its share of flaws, that’s easy to see, but it has tremendous set pieces, plenty of memorable lines and that iconic speech from Pullman’s President Whitmore. This was a movie that arrived with massive hype, which it lived up to then and still stands up today.

 

Video:

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail: Independence Day look good on its original Blu-ray, but the new transfer has the film looking better than ever (except presumably for the 4K edition). The film shows its age when looking at the giant saucers over the cities and the general level of grain that should be expected, but that doesn’t take away from the clarity seen throughout the film. Scenes free of aliens have the benefit of featuring a great deal of detail that has you admiring how good-looking a film this is.

Depth: Characters work well in their positioning, with the transfer allowing for a great feel of dimensionality. This is more the case when watching action sequences play out, given the scope.

Black Levels: Black levels are strong here. The film is 20 years old, but you get a great read on the negative space seen and how shadows and nighttime scenes effectively with no sign of crush.

Color Reproduction: There is a lot of color featured throughout the film and it pops. The spectacle and nature of the aliens allows for a lot of brightness and you get a great handle on that thanks to what this new transfer has to offer.

Flesh Tones: Facial textures are strong, with a good number of close-ups that allow for us to see plenty of detail

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing to damaging.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Fox has gone all out to make sure you can experience Independence Day as if you were watching it in a theater. This 5.1 lossless audio track is a monster that provides plenty of the wow factor you want to enjoy with a big blockbuster such as this.

Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel has plenty to do with all the explosions and heavy emphasis during moments that are supposed to shake the room.

Surround Sound Presentation: While dialogue and other elements are pushed to the front, this is a well-rounded audio track that really utilizes the various surround channels for an excellent experience.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone is loud and clear.

 

Extras:

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In addition to the new restoration for both the theatrical (2:25:30) and extended cuts (2:33:33) of the film, this Blu-ray has an all-new retrospective in addition to a number of older features that certainly do plenty to dig into the making of the film, not to mention the two commentary tracks.

Features Include:

  • Disc 1:
    • ID4 Datastream Trivia Track (Theatrical Version) – Pop-up facts appear throughout the film on screen.
    • Commentary by Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin (Theatrical and Extended Cuts) – The more entertaining of the two commentary tracks, as it has these two enjoying looking at the film and delivering various anecdotes, despite some dry spots.
    • Commentary by Oscar-Winning Special Effects Supervisors Volker Engel and Doug Smith – This track is a little less engaging, but features plenty of information concerning the making of the film.
    • Independence Day: Resurgence Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:30)

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  • Disc 2:
    • Independence Day: A Legacy Surging Forward (HD, 30:40) – Filmed on the set of the sequel, this is a look back the legacy of Independence Day, with plenty of archive footage and new interviews with the cast and crew, minus Will Smith.
    • Original Theatrical Ending (SD, 4:16) – Even for this film, the original ending involving Randy Quaid and his bi-plane was pretty silly, but it is here, with commentary.
    • Gag Reel (SD, 2:05)
    • Creating Reality (SD, 29:19) – A look at how the film built a level of realism around this story.
    • ID4 Invasion Mock-umentary (SD, 21:57) – A pseudo news piece focused on the events transpiring in the film.
    • The Making of ID4 (SD, 28:29) – Hosted by Jeff Goldblum, this is a fun retro making-of piece that goes into the various aspects of production.
    • Combat Review (Random Destruction Clips) (HD, 9:04) – If you want to see all the film’s money shots, here they are.
    • Monitor Earth Broadcasts (SD, 51:08) – Emmerich and Devlin had news footage written and filmed around the world to help add a realistic value to the actual movie. You can find a bunch of it here.
    • Teaser Trailers (SD) – The marketing was huge for Independence Day and I found it important enough to mention, as the trailers were really good for this film.
    • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:30)
    • TV Spots (SD)
    • Gallery (HD)
  • Digital Copy of the Film

Summary:

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Some may not be as big a fan of Independence Day as I am, but this new Blu-ray is terrific. You get a film that is highly enjoyable and has now been restored to look and sound better than ever. Enjoy the disc for that reason alone, but also be happy to get a terrific set of extras, even if there isn’t much in the way of new extras to be found. The film is what I wanted though, especially given the terrific video and audio.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

4 Responses to “Independence Day: 20th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Kris King

    Actually it is 5.1, not 7.1.

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    You are correct and the correction has been made. The box is mislabeled and I was honestly too impressed by the sound to double-check. My bad. Thanks for catching that.

  3. Kris King

    No problem.

  4. Kris King

    Sorta wish it was 7.1.