Though Independence Day may make itself out to be a stand-alone film, it’s not. Actually, it’s not even close. The only reason this isn’t called War of the Worlds is likely due to licensing issues. This has all been done before, just not with this much goofy, unbelievable fun and special effects prowess.
Don’t think this is an update to the original H.G. Wells story. This is an update to the 1953 classic film which took many liberties, most of which are copied here. The biggest change here is tone. This a lighthearted look at our own potential doom, spliced in with horrific sequences of people being mutilated by the hundreds. For whatever reason, it all works.
This is simply a great ride. Things explode, Will Smith is hilarious, and it’s quickly paced. It wastes no time in getting things moving. You see the alien’s main spacecraft before you even see an actor. That tells you right there where this movie is headed.
Oddly, it’s packed with characters, far too many as to be necessary to the story. Jeff Goldblum can never have too much screen time and Bill Pullman (along with Will Smith) are the only “necessary” characters. The rest could be quickly forgotten with little harm to the film. Randy Quaid could have been cut all together. The others toss out a few comedic quips; Quaid does nothing but.
Besides, it’s the aliens we’ve come to see. They blow things up, we’re all happy. That’s the case here. The special effects have aged slightly as a few shots have become quite noticeable over the years. Still, it’s hard to top the insane amount of destruction portrayed here.
Argue all you want about how ridiculous the movie can be and how stupid it all comes out in the end. If you can believe giant alien motherships can come down and blow everything away in multiple countries, how much harder is it to swallow that a compatible computer virus can be written to take them all down? It’s not a smart film and it’s never meant to be. It’s here to entertain, and it does that better than numerous summer blockbusters. (**** out of *****)
This Five Star Collection 2-disc set boasts a magnificent transfer, right up there with the usual Fox quality. A few sporadic scenes have trouble with noise in the background. Other then that, this is flawless. Fine detail is high, color is unbelievable, and you’re not going to miss any of the details in the special effects. (****)
This is one of many “home theater movies,” set up so that this should be one of the first movies used to show off a new system. It’s brutal when it comes to bass, and there are plenty of opportunities to use it. Separation is handled flawlessly. Even the non-action sequences feature plenty of rear speaker usage. It’s engaging and powerful all the way through. (*****)
This set doesn’t offer as many extras as typical release like this do now. There’s still enough information here to make it a worthy purchase. Disc 1 contains two commentaries, one of which can only be listened to when watching the nine minute extended version also included on this set. The additional footage is all character focused and were wise cuts considering the movie comes in over two hours already.
Disc 2 starts the real features with the HBO First Look. This is long promotional tripe hosted by Jeff Goldblum, and he does inject some personality to it. ID4 Invasion is a mock newscast that is original, just poorly done and hardly believable. Some of the footage used here was in the film.
Creating Reality is another long feature, clocking in around a half-hour. It’s in depth, including looks at the miniatures and CG effects. Ignore the First Look and just watch this. A wisely excised alternate ending is here, unfinished and with commentary.
The disc finishes with trailers, including the classic Super Bowl spot (“Enjoy the game. It may be your last”). The menus deserve credit here too. They are so well done, it’s entertaining just to sit and watch them. Navigating them is a joy too. Finally, almost every release of this film is the same. Extras are usually a little thinner. Just get this set and ignore the rest. (***)
People still rip Independence Day because the aliens are defeated by a Mac. H.G. Wells writes a story about intelligent beings that can create advanced technologies, but fail to check to be sure they can live here and it’s a classic. That’s not saying Independence Day should be revered on the same level, just judged in similar fashion. If not, it’s almost hypocritical. Take it for what it is: fun.