Independence Day [Blu-ray]
Note of interest to Independence Day fans.
I bought this title and was surprised that the "Special Edition" cut of Independence Day was not on this Blu-ray release as it was listed in the Special Features on Amazon's website. Very disappointed in the listing and the release!
on July 23, 2008
This review has a bit of a spoiler, so don't read on if you don't want to risk it.
Independence Day is great fun to watch, but it is not a great science fiction film by any means. Howvever, the film I think was made to be strictly entertainment, in the mold of old Saturday morning matinees of a bygone era like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. It is not high art and the storyline is franky irrational and stupid. The writers obviously threw logic out the window in order to focus on action,comedic momemts, drama, and adventure, not to mention a guaranteed happy ending.
Nevertheless, the film is an achievement in the realm of technical prowess at the very beginning of the film. The way it presented the technical superiority and power of the aliens is quite stunning, but after that original awe the film somewhat degrades into a series of Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica battle scenes. Good mindless entertainment, but nothing special.
Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum are both competent given the limited script. As for Bill Pullman as President acting as an acient King leading his tribe into battle, well I don't know. He just didn't seem right for the part, though again, maybe it wasn't his fault since the part was ridiculous.
Finally, this film shouldn't be reviewed. It should simply be enjoyed for what it is, that is good ol' fashioned science fiction adventure as entertainment. Nothing more.
on April 19, 2004
"Independence Day" could have been a great film. It's got the huge explosions that draw in big summer crowds, it's loaded with fodder for popcorn popping, but after that...
Honestly, this isn't a terrible movie. It will hold your attention for the entire duration of the film. The visuals, especially the opening sequence showing you just how tiny the moon and our little neck of the universe can be, are fantastic. The special effects are top-notch and the acting is over-the-top, loud-mouthed and fun. The aliens are believeable enough and I liked the touch of Roswell thrown in to give the story a little substance.
However, things went downhill from there. Now if you've read my review of Emmerich's "Godzilla," you already know that I liked that movie. But the reasons I liked it are the same reasons that I'm not overly fond of "Independence Day." Like the large lizard flick, the story has no originality to it whatsoever. It's a blatant rip-off of all those old Sunday matinee sci-fi movies. At least "Godzilla" had the decency to impregnate the title character. Tons of buildings are destroyed in both films, but "Godzilla" more or less just toppled things over trying to hide from the baddies. Only Madison Square Garden received any extra special attention. In "ID4," buildings were destroyed to show people just how nifty the special effects were. The two biggest disappointments in "ID4" had to be the virus implanting ending(just too unbelieveable) and Will Smith. Normally I like Mr. Smith, but he's just too annoying in this movie. I found myself hoping that one of the aliens would have whacked him just to shut him up.
In closing, I have to say that this is a fun movie to watch if you like explosions, but for some reason, this movie doesn't click with me like "Godzilla" did. I know they are different films, but they were created on the same larger-than-life scale. "ID4" takes itself too seriously. It's nothing more than a glorified cheesy sci-fi movie that's fun to watch, but just not fun enough. For a better time, "Starship Troopers" has explosions galore, including some cool bug guts. If that's not your speed, check out "Armageddon." It has that whole "end of the world" thing going for it. Both of these movies don't take themselves too serously, and they are a lot more enjoyable to watch. If that still doesn't fit your bill, break out the old Atari and play "Space Invaders." Now that's entertainment.
on December 14, 2002
Devlin & Emmerich have chosen to revive the popcorn movie. Every film they've made is essentially another attempt at capturing an audience's attention and wowing them. ID4 serves that purpose quite well. Essentially a rip off of H. G. Wells War of the Worlds (right down to the "virus" that destorys the aliens although in this case it's a computer virus), it's not great or even good cinema just plain old fashioned fun.
Defying the laws of physics (and good plotting) the aliens have come to turn the Earth into a wasteland. They are essentially like Locusts--they use a planet's resources and move on. It's never pointed out that we have already done a good job of the same thing. Bull Pullman gives a nicely textured (and believable) performance as the President of the United States. If the world is ever destroyed by aliens, I'd vote for him to save the day. Jeff Goldman turns his usual nervous tics and gestures into another scientist character.
Stock characters aside, ID4 works because of the sheer epic scale. It's not a science fiction movie. It uses all the props mind you, but, really, it's a disaster movie. The visuals are pretty good eye candy and the commentary on how they were achieved is also quite good.
The extras are little more than fluff pieces that were prepared as part of Fox's advertising campaign. Why the alternate version wasn't put on the main disc as an option is beyond me. Yes, it's unbelievable but it's fun in a B movie sort of way. In fact, that about sums up ID4; it's a fun B movie made on an A budget. Just leave your brain in cruise control. If you try and think too much about this illusion of a film, you'll strain yourself.
on November 16, 2002
I really don't know what to make of ID4. If you take away the SFX and the patriotic, flag-waving in this film you are left with a very cheap pile of melodramatic sludge.In the first viewing you may not see this but the second and third time you really begin to notice the seriously bad dialogue.
It won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects but some of them are uncomfortably bad. The flames that flow thru the tunnel at the end of the first destruction scene are SO unrealistic. They are way too red. In the same summer Escape from LA was panned for having [bad] FX but this is worse.
I feel that if ID4 maintained a dark and ominous tone, much like the shadows cast by the spacecraft, it would have been a much better film. But instead the scriptwriters decided to go for the cheap and easy way of bad jokes and cliched `human drama' storylines. If one tiny little change had been made (If Boomer the Dog never survived the tunnel fire to be more specific) I feel that even this would have been enough to balance out the cheesy humor and quality of the filmmaking.
The ending is exciting to watch and the final scenes inside the mothership are very vivid and total eye-candy I wish we could have seen more of this. There were plans for a sequel in early 1997 to be released on January 1st 2000 but Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin left 20th Century Fox, so it was never made.
The features on the DVD are stale and boring. Two commentaries recorded at an unhearable volume, plus some uninteresting documentaries. The 5.1 sound (sorry, no DTS) is dead cool and the 2.35:1 anamorphic picture is almost flawless.
on October 28, 2002
It's damned clear from the opening shot (the American flag on the moon, Neil Armstrong's "one small step speech" in the background and the footprints of said astronought and chums) what this is about. Aliens attack the world? Nope. Aliens attack America and get what's coming to them... as if we couldn't guess. Yep, it's that big budget remake of all those B-Movies, with lots of anthems and "God bless America" moments. For everyone in America, this will doubtless be the feelgood blockbuster of the year... for the rest of the world, it's probably the biggest, most expensive lump of cheese yet concieved in the movie industry.
The story is nice and simple. Some shamefully mean and nasty aliens descend from the skies, promptly attacking (curiously we see attacks on America and... well, nowhere else, because of course nowhere else would really matter if it was destroyed) and causing mass destruction. The ramifications of this worldwide devastation are never considered, with a general theme of "America will fix it" running through. It's jingoistic to sickening extremes, with the President delivering a nice independence day speech and getting in a plane alongside the normal people (for people read Americans) and attacking those nasty aliens with all the American firepower they can muster. Damned inspiring stuff... if you're American.
Of course there's the nice touch that Mr. Average, "Russell Case" (often drunken crop duster who claims to have been abducted by aliens) saves the day with the President nobly paving the way for him. Aw. The whole "Pres'-Helps-Save-The-Day" thing wouldn't get a full blown movie plot until the equally sickening Air Force One, but here it's a little subplot and still an annoying one. Let's be honest... Presidents are puppets, always out of harm's way, and NEVER likely to get stuck into the action. Now I've had my go at that subject, I'll continue.
America of course leads the way in saving the world, showing how to destroy the alien beasties by bringing down their ships (and, presumably, crushing miles of land beneath, and causing vast dust clouds, similar to an asteroid collision? Oh well). In fact, the only footage of "the rest of the world dealing with the problem" is a few clips of stereotypical foreigners. For the English we have the likes of "crikey, aliens are invading! Better put the kettle on" and so forth. Nobody seems to mind that aliens invading the world actually involves the rest of the world. Oh well.
Anyway, if you can swallow the absurd jingoism, is it actually a good film? Well, Jeff Goldblum - yet again playing his terminal character, the scatterbrained noble genius, but he does it well and is amusing in all his scenes. Bill Puttman is a questionably brave and strong president, probably ranking above the rest of the rather over-comical cast (Will Smith, love him or hate him, does what he does best - yell, do action scenes and come out with one-liners). And the script, oh the script... cheese left right and centre, with aliens whose motives are as simple and clear cut as the film's intention: to make a LOT of money. Which it shamelessly did.
The effects are, of course, grand and good. The flying saucers look far meaner than their wobbly ancestors, and the aliens are just as tenticle-clad and slimy as you'd expect. It's all very predictable, yet pleasing in it's reliability. And of course it's entertaining throughout, delivering nothing but eye-pleasing action and lots of loud noises. Yes, despite it's irritating themes, it's fun.
It's well worth the title of blockbuster, and is truly suited to those with brains firmly switched off. So I can watch it and like it if I don't think about it - and some of it's moments (Puttman's speech, from a certain perspective - and Russell Case's delightful final moments: "Hello boys, I'm back!" and "Payback's a b**ch aint it!" for example) are touching and funny. So there is definitely fun to be had, and it is, as much as it pains me to say it, definitely worth watching it.
For non-Americans it will prove a guilty pleasure, and for those for whom it was made, it will prove a heart-melting flag waver and no mistake. So watch it, laugh at or with it, and enjoy it anyway.
on June 18, 2002
Independence Day is a very entertaining movie. The special effects are excellent and Will Smith's humour is as usual, spot on. The story-line is pretty weak, but that's okay, this is a movie designed to entertain, not make you think. The initial build up and deployment of the alien space craft is my favourite segment of the movie. It's the second part of the movie that things start to go wrong. There are just too many cheesey bits which ruin the movie. Will Smith's first encounter with the downed alien craft is a huge disappointment. He sees an alien, punches it, then sits back and has a cigar. Nice line "Welcome to earth", but the whole scene is a real let down. One punch and the alien is knocked out? What about other aliens in the craft? What about his curiosity as to what else is inside the craft, he is a pilot who wants to be an astronaut for crying out loud? Then there are other ridiculous scenes such as the President giving his patriotic speech, which sounds like it was written to be given to a whole nation, or nations and he delivers it to a handful of people. But the worst part of the movie for me, was when a handful of civilians (albiet Vietnam vets) end up flying F18's. This unfortunately is just stretching things too far. At the risk of getting some negative feedback for this review, I found it pretty sycophantic when the movie panned around the world, to see military survivors from different nations listening in to the Americans. The British soldier made the comment about relying on the Americans. This scene merely shows Americans as being full of the themselves and condescending and wasn't necessary. Overall, I enjoyed this movie, but it misses the mark terribly for the reasons above. The Five Star Collection version is the equivilant of my Region 4 Special Edition version. And what a great DVD package this is. Two CD's, full colour booklet, and a host of extra features.
on April 20, 2002
Another movie about aliens taking over the earth does initially sound a little boring. The special effects are good, just the sight of the White House being incinerated and Air Force One flying in front of a wall of flame are thought provoking enough. Add into the equation Area 51 and the ever present thought that it is a possiblity that no one can deny with any certainty and this is a very thought provoking movie.
On the flip side, imagine a stripper and the first lady becoming friends. An alcoholic crop duster flying U.S. military planes, a jilted ex-husband (who once punched the President) being allowed into the White House to see his ex-wife in the company of the President, the President flying fighter planes in combat and you see the more unbelievable aspect of this film. But hey, it's the movies and anything is possible.
When all is considered this movie is not bad but not great. Certainly worth the price of admission in a theater or a home rent but I don't believe it will go down as one that is remembered for a very long time. But in the short run while you are watching and for some time after it will certainly be interesting.
on February 11, 2002
I wonder why Arthur C. Clarke wasn't given a nod for the idea of the mother ship and baby ships. That scene seems to have come directly from 'Childhood's End'. I haven't read all the reviews, but it seems some points have not been addressed; for example, world unity. The world is so divided by ideologies, language, beliefs, economic conditions, currency, etc. that it would take a world-wide threat (like an alien attack or another black plague) to unify all the people. This film, shallow as it is in other respects, illustrates that. Also, this film was 'centered' in America, so the filmmakers naturally concentrated on America, with 'cameos' of members of other countries. I resent being told that 'the worst part of the movie was America' (see above comment about devisivness, rudeness and negativism). Obviously, I am American, but I have Swedish and English (and other) roots. I actually consider myself a citizen of Earth. The Earth, this little blue planet is my home. So, let's try to take that 'think globally' seriously.
I rather liked the movie with it's humor and special effects (I guess I'm easily entertained), and my wife always cries at the sad parts. Movies are like beauty - in the eye and ear of the beholder. It's easy to find fault with things, but much harder to find the good, the higher ground, the motivation. Makes you wonder what kind of movies the reviewers rave over...
on December 17, 2001
This 1996 films is, of course, for pure entertainment. In that respect, it definitley succeeds. Story wise, it leaves much to desire. The movie is perfectly made, with eye popping effects, and a golden cast. But, it is no longer easy to watch because of certain scenes. I think you know why. Is it enough to bash a film and give it one star?. Well, that'a a topic for a debate. I don't know myself. There are a few stupid things here. The President, played by Bill Pullman, decides to go up in the air to fight the aliens too?. Come on. He says "My place is up in the sky", or something like that. Give me a break. They'd have him underground in a bunker or something. That was pure hokeyness if ever there was any. Will Smith turne into a real capable, and heroic leading man with this film. That star dimmed however, with "Wild Wild West". This obviously isn't a film meant for Oscar consideration. It's just a fun ride designed to make going to the movies fun. It was definitley fun. It runs way too long, and is filled with too much unneeded stuff tho. The nasty review at the bottom of the page is ridiculous. It goes way out of proportion with untrue sayings that are obviously said to just satisfy whoever wrote it.