|Category||Action/Science Fiction||Audio Commentary-Roland Emmerich
(Director) and Dean Devlin (Producer)
Audio Commentary-Visual Effects personnel Volker Engel and Douglas Smith
Deleted Scene-Original Ending
Featurette-Creating Reality (29:22)
Featurette-The ID4 Invasion (21:58)
Featurette-The Making of ID4 (28:31)
Gallery-Sets and Props
Menu Audio and Animation
Seamless Branching-Theatrical Version & Special Edition of the film
Teaser Trailers (3)
Television Spots (8)
Theatrical Trailer (1)
147:16 minutes (Special Edition)
(not 114:10 as stated on the packaging)
|RSDL/Flipper||Disc 1 Theatrical Version - RSDL (60:44)
Disc 1 Special Edition - RSDL (65:35)
Disc 2 - Dual Layer
|Start Up||Film Version Selection, then Menu|
Fox Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384
English Audio Commentary 1 (Dolby Digital 2.0, 96 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary 2 (Dolby Digital 2.0, 96 Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Certainly this is one film that I have been awaiting for some time in Region 4, in fact since the very first Fox Home Entertainment release in Region 4, which included a little slip showing this as a future release. It may have taken a while to get here, but it is finally out there to indulge in. My love affair with this film dates back to the very early days of its theatrical release in Australia when I hurried off to grab it on the big screen. One view was not enough and several more followed - and I am not a person to go to see a movie often, let alone the same movie more than once. In fact, over the years the only films that have copped even a single repeat viewing on their initial theatrical release, apart from that trilogy, are Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, Down Periscope and Independence Day. Over the past four years, it is the only film that I have seen theatrically, on (shudder) VHS tape, on Laserdisc and on DVD. I care not about the plot holes, the supposed celebration of Americanism and all the other barbs thrown at the film: I just reckon that it is one of the most outright entertaining films that I have ever seen, and that is precisely why I watch films - to be entertained. I often describe the film as the best John Wayne film that he never made, because it simply is a direct descendent of those great matinee films that were a long way short on substance, but were definitely the best way of spending a Saturday afternoon. I often wonder whether those who complain long and loud about the so-called American propaganda have not completely missed the point of the film?
The story here is very simple indeed: what if one day we woke up and found out in the most in your face way that we are not alone in the Universe and the other residents don't care for us too much? Forget everything else, that is what the film is all about. What would happen if we did wake up to find aliens knocking on our door and telling us to rather unpolitely to go and die?
The Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) have discovered a radio message from space, and have found out that we are not alone in the Universe. In fact one rather large spacecraft is headed our way in the most belligerent fashion. Naturally, the US military soon find out too, and our worst nightmare (and our most fundamental question) is answered, and so it is that the major cities of the world find themselves under the dark shadow of very large spacecraft whose sole job it is to destroy those cities and systematically move on and destroy the whole of human civilization. After the initial and overwhelmingly unsuccessful military operations against the belligerent aliens, it is left to a rag-tag collection of military personnel and civilians to find a way to rid the world of the source of its possible annihilation. Naturally this overwhelmingly outnumbered and totally under-armed group manage to do the impossible and save the day.
Actually, I find more to the plot here than obviously many do, as I don't find it completely lacking and there are actually some barely disguised underlying messages to it - and there is plenty of attitude on display as the humans kick some alien butt. Whilst the Special Edition version of the film may introduce some footage that does not do an awful lot to improve the story, and even the theatrical version could have a few bits excised to make the whole film tighter, at the end of the day this is by no means the worst plot that I have ever had to suffer. The film squarely places itself in that group of matinee films that you can kick back and enjoy whilst putting the brain in neutral, and the assembled cast is well chosen to aid that result. Whilst none of the cast are unknowns, there is certainly a dearth of real A-grade talent here. Still, Bill Pullman does a good job as ex-fighter jock President Thomas Whitmore, whilst Will Smith hits the nail on the head with his portrayal of the USMC Captain Steve Hiller. Jeff Goldblum plays his role to perfection, and the rest of the cast are no less successful in their respective roles.
Roland Emmerich makes no bones about the fact that he was trying to make a popcorn movie, and he has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. This is really the quintessential popcorn movie and obviously the movie-going public felt so too since this made a truckload of money at the box office. However, the real star here is the special effects, of which there are apparently over 400. Using just about every technique known to filmmakers, as well as adding a few new ones, the digital eye of DVD certainly looks upon most with favour. It does have to be said though that a few times, some of the effects just did not look to be right from a perspective point of view - for instance, I have always felt that the alien Attackers featured in the attack on Area 51 were just a tad too large to be in perspective. A 65 foot wide Attacker should not be totally dwarfing a C-130 Hercules transport for instance.
This is the only film that I have ever seen more than once on Laserdisc, and I was always knocked out by it, apart from one aspect: the firestorms as the death rays devour the cities always looked to me to be very blocky on Laserdisc. No such problems here and this DVD clearly demonstrates that this was a film that was made for the format. Stunning visuals, demonstration sound, kick-ass matinee film. What more could you want? Just enjoy the ride - they do not get any better than this.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.
The description of the video transfer is actually short and very sweet: nice and sharp throughout without a hint of edge enhancement, gorgeous detail throughout (just check out the spaceships as they detach from the mother ship and compare it to your VHS tape!), very good shadow detail throughout, very clear transfer throughout and only a few odd instances where grain may be an issue - and a very mild issue at that. There was no real issue with low level noise in the transfer at all. But for those few odd, and very minor, issues this would be a reference quality transfer.
This a gorgeously vibrant transfer throughout and it really shines, with a very nice colour palette that is just about spot-on in saturation throughout. The tendency is to a nice rich tone throughout, and this really has a gorgeous consistency to it. There is no hint of oversaturation at all, and there is no problem with colour bleed here either. Indeed, as far as the colours go, there is nothing here that I can find fault with.
In the entire two and one half hour length of the Special Edition of the film, there are only four points that I felt needed a comment. At 7:20 there is the pan shot of the orbiting satellite approaching the mother ship which shows a distinct lack of focus. Is this an MPEG artefact? Possibly not, as it has to be said that my VHS tape demonstrates the same lack of focus in the same shot, as does the Laserdisc if I recall, so this may well be an inherent fault in the source material (it is also present on the Region 1 DVD version). At 7:45 there is some rather distinct shimmer in the green bushes as we pan down towards the chess game between Julius and David. At 116:30 there is some wobble in the image that appears to be more than just the effects wobble that occurred immediately prior to the section. That is the extent of the film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. At 14:09 there is a rather noticeable black mark down the right hand side of the picture for about half-a-second, which is possibly inherent damage in this resurrected piece of footage (this is one of the additional scenes included in the Special Edition of the film) as it is also present in the Region 1 transfer. Other than that, there were a few dirt marks here and there but nothing at all intrusive. That was the extent of the film artefacts in the transfer.
This is an RSDL
formatted disc with the layer change coming at 60:44
in the theatrical version of the film and 65:35
in the Special Edition version of the film. This is just a little too noticeable
for my liking as it is accompanied by a drop-out of the engine noise from
Air Force One. I can't help but feel a better positioning for the
layer change would have been about twenty seconds earlier when the trailer
door is closed, as this would have been a less noticeable place to have
the pause since there was minimal sound at that point.
Overall, there is not much of a problem with the dialogue, which comes up very well in the soundtrack and is easy to understand. The few odd places where dialogue was a little difficult to follow are the same as on the VHS tape and the Laserdisc and so therefore must be inherent problems in the source material. There did not seem to be any problem with audio sync in the transfer.
The music comes from David Arnold and in keeping with the big, bold, style of the film, this is a suitably big and over-the-top effort that is best remembered for the theme music that plays during the end credits. Certainly not in the league of something that John Williams would have composed for this sort of film, but after blowing the budget on the effects, they probably could not afford the master!
What is your favourite demonstration DVD as far as
sound is concerned? Well, you may just have a new one to throw at your
non-converted mates. This is one dynamic soundtrack with oodles of surround
channel use and bass channel use. I doubt whether any real opportunity
to let the bass channel loose here was missed and this could cause serious
structural damage if cranked up more than just a bit! It is more than a
little impressive when you have the on-screen props rattling away and you
get the same from your own household effects! Not that everything here
is bold and big, as some of the surround channel use, especially out of
the rears, is really quite subtle (or at least as subtle as Roland Emmerich
gets). About the only time that the slightest restraint is applied to the
soundtrack is during one or two of the firestorms when the bass channel
was eased just a very little in the mix, as otherwise it would have overloaded
just about everything. Some of the front to rear effects are brilliant,
and amongst the best I have heard recently. Stirring, stunning stuff that
has certainly placed this DVD in the pile to amaze the friends with. No
complaints from me here at all. Mind you, what would this sound like in
|Surround Channel Use|
© Ian Morris (have
a laugh, check out the bio)
28th October 2000
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|