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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.25:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Hebrew, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Portuguese, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • Deleted scenes - original ending
  • 3 Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • 2 Audio commentary
  • 3 Featurette - Creating Reality, The ID4 Invasion, The Making of ID4
  • Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • 8 TV spot

Independence Day - Special Edition

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 147 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Ever since their success with Universal Soldier, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin have been at the forefront of creating THE pop-corn movies of the 90's with hits such as Stargate, Godzilla and the coming soon to DVD release of the Patriot. Sure it's not all great cinema but we're not studying at film school in our lounge rooms. All we really crave for is a vehicle to get us through 2 hours of movie time with something that will provide us constant entertainment and the supreme 'wow' factor. Independence Day is it.

Despite the size that it eventually ended up becoming, Independence Day was just a basic premise in the minds of these two budding film-makers. Aliens come to Earth, in the biggest damn ships you've ever seen, and start wiping out the human race. It's up to a select few who have survived, with the knowledge that has been acquired at the infamous Area-51 military station, to save the day, the American way, ofcourse.

Tagging along for the ride is a fun-filled cast including the likes of Jeff Goldblum, Will Smith, Harry Connick Jr., Randy Quaid, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch and Brent Spiner (Data of Star Trek fame). Whilst their characters are as flat as the cities that the alien destruction has left behind, they do bring a certain charm to the film.

One of the biggest stars of the film though is the special effects that make the alien invasion feel supremely realistic. The miniature work and creative techniques used really do make you believe that these huge ships are causing mass destruction the likes never seen before.

  Video
Contract

As for the DVD. Astounding. This is a damn fine looking disc and seems, what's the word I'm looking for?, complete! Those NTSC scan lines are gone and this disc seems to fill them in with more detail, a smoother image (not softer image) and yes, complete, that's the word I'm looking for.

I've had the good fortune (or bad if you're my credit card) to have owned the VHS and laserdisc versions of ID4 and continue to be amazed by the huge improvement that DVD offers. Whilst the laserdisc produced a clean 'composite' image that was widely regarded as a reference transfer, the resolution increase of dvd and the component format of the medium produces an image that is leaps and bounds ahead of what I've previously experienced at home.

The digital image is pristinely clean and free of any niggling film dirt and is coupled with a dynamic looking image that produces deep blacks and very a rich palette of colors. The gritty New York streets, the alien ship innards, the white sands of the desert are all rendered beautifully.

It's now a given that 20th Century Fox (both here and abroad) is pushing DVD to new heights with their commitment to anamorphic transfers ans enjoyable as this. The same goes for the audio.

  Audio
Contract

I'm always surprised at the clarity and oomph that my little Sony unit is able to produce and this soundtrack certainly provides it's circuitry with some very entertaining sequences that are sure to get a repeat viewing time and time again.

Right from the outset we are treated to some deep bass in preparation for what is to come in some of the most impressive and intense explosion scenes I've seen for a while. The sounds effects guys should be commended for providing all 5.1 speakers with ample time share on the soundtrack - insert academy mention here.

The key scenes to look out for here are obviously the nationwide destruction of the United States whereby building after building are destroyed with precision. Both visually and audibly, this is a jaw dropper each time I see it and if you get the chance, experience it on the biggest screen you can invite yourself to with the biggest sound. It just craves for it.

Channel separation and directionality are very good and give you a real sense of immersion as all manner of object and construction bounce and disperse around the room. The technical sections like the dogfight scenes make full use of this to help you follow who's what and where on the screen.

On the more common aspects, dialogue is fine and even if you can't make out what they're saying the plot is basic enough to follow so who really cares in this instance.

  Extras
Contract

If the examplary video and audio isn't enough to entice you, I know it is though, then the abundance of extras on the second disc should be enough to push you off that fence into the buying paddock.

To keep the local market pleased, we need to divert the buyers attention from the overseas market and the only way to do so is to include as many, if not all, of the extras, even down to the smallest detail such as the menuing system.

Disc One

  • Animated Menus - on both discs are what you would term 'cool'. Disc one is based around the impending destruction of the White House where as disc two is down in the area 51 bunkers. Nifty navigational stuff here folks.
  • Audio Commentary 1 - Director Roland Emmerich and Producer Dean Devlin provide a sub-standard audio commentary here. It's as if they watched all the other extras first and conceded that there really wasn't much more to say.
  • Audio Commentary 2 - Volker Engel and Douglas Smith made up part of the Visual Effects team and their commentary is a bit more geeky and thus more interesting to us. Once again, nothing much that is spoken about here is missed in the other extras found on disc two.

Disc Two

  • Deleted Scene - This is the original ending that was filmed and subsequently shot-down by the film-makers due to the test audience reaction. Basically Russel Kaye (Randy Quaid) is rejected as becoming one of the fighter pilots in the final battle and takes to the skies himself in his bi-plane for what is to become a suicide mission. Devlin explains the good and bad points of the scene and why he made the 'right' decision to re-shoot the ending.
  • 3 Featurettes - Firstly we have "Creating Reality" which delves into the art of creating miniatures/ small scale models to cut-down the budgets needed if you'd actually blew up the white-house or hired some real aliens. It's a pretty cool feature that all budding film-makers and enthusiasts will enjoy. The second feature "ID4 Invasion" is more of a documentary looking at some behind the scenes action and some archived so-called alien footage and finally we have the Jeff Goldblum hosted feature "The Making of ID4" which comes across with a feeling of Deja Vu as many elements of the previous features are included. Jeff always adds his characteristic pauses and hand gestures to give it that unique Goldblum flavor.
  • Gallery - There are 5 different groups of images here ranging from conceptual art to production sketches to storyboards and promotional material.
  • Teaser Trailers - I remember seeing these whilst at the cinema and staring at the screen in utter amazement at the destruction of these landmarks. They certainly got a reaction from the crowd but have a somewhat subdued enticement on the small screen and after many viewings of the movie.
  • Theatrical Trailer - This is the extended version that showed alot more of the action and really entrenched ID4 as being THE movie to see over the mid year break. Has there been a trailer since then that has caused as much hype and interest, outside of Episode 1 of course.
  • Television Spots - Whilst we didn't really get to see these on local free-to-air TV, they are interesting all the same, particularly apples attempt to capitalise on a powerbook being the machine that saves the world.
  • Easter Eggs - You've got to find them yourself but here's a hint. On the Trailers screen there is a computer on the desk. As with all computers, you need to turn them on, it's a habit.

  Overall  
Contract

With extras this abundant and a video and audio transfer that many others would kill for, you've got an excellent disc here. My only problem is the packaging. The US release was presented as a 5 star disc in a double amaray casing. I don't much care for the 5 star rating, it's just FIGJAM, but I do care for the double amaray casing giving it a presence in your hand for something more than just a single disc movie. It's all about looks when it comes down to it and we need to make these special editions distinct from the basic releases out there.

That said, this is THE exact kind of movie that just craves a BIG presence in your home cinema because that's what it is made for. It's pure fun so let i be that. Forget the inconsistencies in the plot, forget the implausibilities, forget the "Amercian save the world" inadequecies and you'll have a rip-roaring good time.

Highly Recommended.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=325
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