Independence Day Blu-ray Review
PictureIndependence Day blasts onto our screens at 2.35:1 using the familiar BluRay MPEG4/AVC codec. The print is clean enough with no trace of specks or dirt. The transfer itself comes across well with no particular encoding errors to be found. There's no bleed to the colours, flesh tones look pretty much spot on, no blocking or enhancement anywhere to be seen.
Contrast bears up well throughout the feature with bright scenes coming over particularly well. Clarity stretches out into the background in these brightly lit scenes offering detail not yet seen on earlier versions of this release. The park scenes with David and his father, the interiors of Area 51, the desert scenes all coming across beautifully. Darker scenes still offer up detail and good shadow delineation however that detail is sometimes lost and contrast at this lower end is not as good as perhaps it could have been. At times the image loses it's apparent pop and reverts to a flatter looking image.
The film is riddled with grain though and it's the darker scenes which suffer the most. Night shots of the Iraqi desert, the Welcome Wagon scene and the nuclear detonation all coming across the worst. Grain is more than apparent throughout the feature really and it's never on an even keel. Brighter scenes, again daylight desert scenes for example don't show it too much but it's still there. It's livable but at times it is a little distracting if only for its lack of consistency.
SoundTopping the video though is the audio, you're in for a roller coaster ride on this DTS-HD 5.1 track. Again, as I have advised in the past, it's loud and it's heavy so bear this in mind before cranking this up to 11. The audio is wide and it's tonal range superb, LFE use will have you rocking in your chair with or without the use of the D-Box control.
Dialogue is spot on, tracked to the center with not a syllable to be missed and this is praise enough considering what else the vocals are competing against. Mid to high tones from the whizzing fleet of both earth bound and alien ships are pin sharp and coming at your from all angles so use of surrounds during these action scenes cannot be faulted one iota. Panning at the front through to steerage to your surrounds again spot on check out the wailing siren of an airborne fire truck for a good example.
You're going to have to blu-tack those ornaments down though, and that includes the ones in the next house, as the bass ID4 is low and consistently used. The initial Star Wars flyover homage scene, the scenes of the approaching multitude of alien craft, the satellite disappearing into the distant only to be dwarfed and consumed by the never ending mother ship all coming over well. Of course the firestorm sequences will get top billing here, so just beware a little this disc will push you sub constantly and take it as low as it will go.
ExtrasSlowly but surely it seems Fox are getting the message and including at least some extras on their releases, those releases either being back catalogue as we have here or their newer releases, Sunshine for instance.
- Commentary with Director Roland Emmerich and Producer Dead Devlin.
Yes this is a good enough discussion really, the two talking heads speaking about the film to each other as opposed directly to the audience and I always feel these commentaries come across a little better because of that. It's engaging enough with the usual information revealed such as cost reductions, homage to Star Wars and the disaster genre, the everyman characters in the film such as Bill Pullman's president and Will Smith's Steve Hiller.
- Commentary with Visual Effects supervisors Volker Engel and Douglas Smith.
A film such as ID4 lives or dies by the standard of its special effects and by today's all singing all dancing CGI affairs they're nothing jaw dropping but in 1996 they fought their corner well enough. Here we have two of the special effects team discussing the major effects scenes. And herein lies the problem, there's just not enough information to keep this track engaging. The firestorm sequences are discussed, the multitude of planes in the air, the approach of the alien ships entering the earth. Between these scenes though what's there left to discuss; yes lets discuss yet another angle on the firestorm sequence. As such it does offer up some interesting snippets of information but not enough to fill more than two hours worth.
- Alien Scavenger Hunt Game.
Another Java propelled BluRay game where the viewer has to move a crosshair around the screen looking for 12 items. This is played whilst the film is running and quickly becomes rather tedious. Remote controls are not exactly the best controls for games and until the designers come up with either a better interface or perhaps a better concept for an in film game then this area of the disc will just gather dust.
- ID4 Trailers.
4 trailers for ID4, they can only be played individually not all at once.
- Fox on BluRay.
5 other trailers, for The Fly, Alien Vs. Predator, I, Robot, Planet of the Apes and X-Men: The Last Stand.
- ID4 Trivia Track.
On activating this option and playing back the movie snippets of information will pop up throughout the film. You get information such as which genres are being paid homage to, when the script was finished, how the actual Apollo flag is probably no longer standing, S.E.T.I etc... It's ok as these things go, technical at times but worth a look at least once.
- Keyword Search.
like chapters but on steroids, a full index for the main movie. Intially when I came across these I thought they wouldn't have too much mileage but I do find myself using them more and more, albeit still infrequently, to locate specific scenes.
If the full index isn't sufficient for you then why not create your own. These bookmarks are retained viewing after viewing even after the disc has been ejected from your player.
- D-Box Motion Control.
If the LFE doesn't move you then get yourself one of these. A sort of butt kicker plus system, go on... you know you want one. If you already do have one then this film will control your seat so you think you're right in the thick of it.
I would have preferred a trimmed technical commentary and perhaps a couple of EPKs or documentaries on the special effects really. I can't fault what's on this disc but I do say that it probably doesn't have any potential other than a watch once, throw away. Fox are making an effort and that's always good to see, but they just need to go that extra mile. This set doesn't even come close to the special edition two-disc set that I own, which is a pity.
VerdictHands up who like this but know that it's just mindless nonsense. OK mine's straight there. I know it's not the next Citizen Kane, damn I know it's not even the next Citizen Smith but I can't help but be suckered in and enjoy the ride which ID4 offers up. It harks back to the great B-movie genre of the 50's and the Irwin Allen disaster movies of the 60 and 70s and like them both it's just brain mush really.
Special effects for the time were more than acceptable and Sci-Fi fans had waited for an eternity to get a no nonsense straight to the action, aliens kicking ass movie for some time. It's cheesy yes, the actors themselves stroll though with nothing demanded of them and the plot has more holes in it that a moon full of cheese; it works though on this level.
It's the all-encompassing bow to the American Flag which is the thorn in its side. Released in the States on holiday weekend no doubt those audiences would have been lapping it up, for the rest of us though it just seems a little immature and at times down right derogatory. Anyway this is a must have purchase for lovers of the film, the audio is excellent and the video, whilst still not as good as more recent releases, is still better than you're currently going to get.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.79
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- Commentary with Director Roland Emmerich and Producer Dead Devlin.