Independence Day: Extended Edition (DTS) (1996)
Audio Commentary-Roland Emmerich (Director) & Dean Devlin (Producer)
Deleted Scenes-Original Ending (4:18)
Featurette-Creating Reality (29:22)
Featurette-The ID4 Invasion (21:58)
Featurette-The Making of ID4 (28:31)
Gallery-Sets And Props
Theatrical Trailer-2.35:1, not 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0 (2:32)
|Year Of Production||1996|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Roland Emmerich|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
††† It seems that studios know no boundaries when it comes to extracting more bucks from the consumer and one recent trend seems to be multiple releases of the same film in slightly different versions. One heavy proponent of this is Fox Home Entertainment who seem to think that they can have their cake and eat it too by releasing Special Edition two disc sets of (generally) highly desirable films, then following the release up with a (generally) cheaper single disc release to catch those who baulked at the asking price of the two disc Special Edition. Well, that marketing philosophy has spawned another wrinkle - after releasing the two disc Special Edition and the single disc edition, release the two disc Special Edition again.
††† How do you do that? Well, scrap some of the extras, remaster some of the soundtracks and add a dts soundtrack to pander to those who feel dts is a vast improvement upon Dolby Digital. The result of this new strategy? Independence Day: Extended Edition! Well, it is not quite that simple but basically the raison d'Ítre for this third local release of one of the greatest matinee extravaganzas ever released is to add that seemingly all-important dts soundtrack that a sizeable segment of the marketplace is now demanding. The result? Well, apart from more sales of a film that was reaching price points as low as $10.00 on DVD not so long ago, a better version of one of the greatest matinee extravaganzas ever released.
††† 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 impolitely 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 a 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 underarmed 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 Extended Edition retains the additional footage included as an option on the Special Edition, it still has to be said that some of that footage does not do an awful lot to improve the story. Even the theatrical version could have a few bits excised to make the whole film tighter, but 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 popcorn/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.
††† One of my favourite films of all time, once again the digital domain has come up trumps for the film. This is a film made for DVD. 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. It seems that the transfer might have been remastered as on the whole it seems a lot smoother than the previous release with most of the issues noted previously not being present this time.
††† The description of the video transfer is actually short and very sweet: nice and sharp throughout without a hint of edge enhancement, generally gorgeous detail throughout (just check out the spaceships as they detach from the mothership), very good shadow detail throughout, a 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.
††† Interestingly, the remastering of the video has seen most of the issues with the earlier release being eliminated. There is some commonality however with that release, which would strongly support the idea that these are inherent problems in the source material and not issues created by the mastering process. The first is that infamous loss of resolution in the pan shot of the orbiting satellite approaching the mother ship at 7:20. Yep, it is still there in all its distracting glory, just as it has been on very other release of the film I have seen in any format. The only real new problem noted was around 61:57 when there is an interesting problem in the background of the image. As the F-18 dives into the canyon, if you look at the horizon (and especially frame by frame) you will see all sorts of changes going on in the background: the mountains change height (or even seem to disappear) from frame to frame rather noticeably. It might be relatively minor in the overall scheme of things but it certainly captured my attention.
††† Surprisingly there is little if any obvious problem with film-to-video artefacting in the transfer, which I found rather unusual after a sequence of films that seemed to alias at every opportunity. Indeed, about the only obvious and distracting effort I noted was around 94:43 in the ramp as it rises. There are a few film artefacts floating around but nothing that noticeable and certainly nothing really distracting.
††† This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change coming at 65:34, pretty close to that of the extended film version on Independence Day: Special Edition. This suggests my timing on that release was just a tad out. It is just a little noticeable as it is accompanied by a drop-out of the engine noise from Air Force One, but it is hardly disruptive to the film at all.
††† The original release offered up eleven subtitle options, most of which have been ditched in order to free up space for the soundtrack. All that we have here are English for the Hearing Impaired and English Audio Commentary efforts. At least the EHI efforts are a little restrained so we don't get too many of the additional subtitles telling us music is playing and so on. There is a little bit of dialogue lost here and there but really nothing that significant and overall they are very good efforts.
††† Interestingly, and rather fortuitously it now turns out, I ended my review of the audio transfer of Independence Day: Special Edition by asking the question as to what the film would sound like in dts. Well, now we really find out the answer to that question - and if you cannot wait to find it, it is very impressive indeed.
††† There are three soundtracks on this DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (now remastered at 448 Kb/s), an English Audio Commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0 sound (now remastered at 192 Kb/s) and that all important half-bit rate English dts 5.1 soundtrack. Since the latter is the whole raison d'Ítre of the release, it is naturally the focus of the review. However, I did at least sample the other two soundtracks.
††† 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!
††† One of the interesting things to do with this release is to switch between the two six channel soundtracks on the fly. Why so interesting? Because even the most cloth-eared should be able to notice the significant difference between the two soundtracks. What it clearly highlights is that whilst the Dolby Digital soundtrack is very good, the dts soundtrack is even better still. Less analytical in style, but with more presence and certainly more dynamic (how is that possible in comparison with one of the most dynamic Dolby Digital soundtracks around?).
††† Mind you, it might be wise to warn your neighbours before you play the dts soundtrack at a high level, for it is going to drive them batty! It will sound like an alien invasion is actually taking place. What I really like about the dts soundtrack is that the bass is just so awesomely handled in the overall mix without drowning out everything else. It is a very smooth sound but really with some of the most impressive surround encoding I have yet heard on a dts soundtrack. There is nothing at all wrong with the soundtrack and the only complaint is that I cannot crank it up loud enough! If the Dolby Digital soundtrack on the previous release was demonstration material, then I don't quite know what this dts soundtrack is. It sure as heck beats the crap out of the demonstration Dolby Digital soundtrack. Obviously the sound format is very complementary for the big, bold sound that this film generally thrives on, but is still able to handle the subtle stuff too.
††† The Dolby Digital soundtrack is still one dynamic soundtrack with oodles of surround channel use and bass channel use. It is just not as good as the dts soundtrack. No opportunity to let the bass channel loose here was missed and this could still 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 still amongst the best I have heard. Stirring, stunning stuff that is if anything aided by the upgrade to a full 448 Kb/s bit rate.
|Surround Channel Use|
††† Fox Home Entertainment only supplied us with one disc (the film disc) from the two disc set, swearing that the second (extras) disc is identical to that, and indeed the actual same disc, included in the previously released Independence Day: Special Edition. So if it is not true, blame Fox Home Entertainment, not me! For the record, their claim seems to be correct as I bought the DVD anyway (come on, it is after all one of my fave films of all time). For the record too, in comparison to the earlier release, we lose the second audio commentary from Visual Effects personnel Volker Engel and Douglas Smith along with the animation in the menus of the first disc.
††† Whilst the film disc itself loses all the wonderful stuff it used to have, it really is not a big loss to my mind. The extras disc menu as it segues from the ramp coming down to the entry into the launch bay for the Attacker briefly goes to a black screen. Other than that, these 16x9 enhanced menus are still amongst the best around.
††† Not exactly the greatest that I have ever heard with plenty of silence involved. The glitch that was on the original disc has also been fixed in the remastering. They do add some nice trivia about the movie at times though, so this is not a total waste of time, but it could have been a lot better I think. It would also have helped if whichever one of them was hitting the pencil against the table early on did not do it - the tick tick tick going on in the background is a little annoying. It would seem that this commentary is only available for the theatrical version of the film.
††† Presented with audio commentary from Dean Devlin, this is shown essentially in two parts - the first is the portion of the film where the segue starts into the deleted setup for the ending and then the actual ending. Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Whilst it was certainly a comic ending to the film, it is perhaps not in keeping with the overall tone of the film. Still, glad to have seen it and have a laugh.
††† All three featurettes are contained in the section of the extras menu item entitled Featured Specimens and are accessed through a nicely animated move into The Freak Show. This broadly speaking details how certain of the scenes were created, being split into the following chapters:
††† Apart from suffering somewhat from some aliasing, there is not too much to complain about here from a technical point of view. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound that definitely is surround encoded as there is action out of the rear channels. An interesting look, albeit a short one for such a film, into how things were created. Just be aware though that all three featurettes to some extent repeat themselves and you will see some stuff more than once.
††† The initial nine minutes of this are presented in a mockumentary style, before becoming pretty much your basic behind-the-scenes look at the film. What sets this apart though is the interview material with some of the people from the UFO brigade, for want of a better description, and a very interesting piece of video footage taken from Shuttle mission STS-48. Would you like to explain what that object was? I have seen some compelling footage in my time, but to see an object head in towards the Earth's atmosphere and then proceed to do a better than ninety degree right turn, increase speed enormously and head off into space certainly raises some questions. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. An interesting enough effort.
††† Pretty much your bog standard Making-Of featurette that includes a lot of duplicated material from the previous two featurettes, presented in a semi-investigative style by Jeff Goldblum. Does not add a whole lot more to the experience than that already covered by the other two efforts, but for completists is worthy of inclusion. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.
††† The alien ships gallery comprise 89 design sketches and detailed drawings (again unannotated) that pretty much chart the course of the development of the design for the mothership, the destroyers and the attackers.
††† The conceptual artwork gallery comprise 15 sketches and detailed drawings (again unannotated) that show how some of the overall design elements for the film were developed.
††† The galleries and the various trailers are accessed through the extra features menu item entitled Data Console. The production photographs contains 313 (yes, I counted them but might have missed a couple - you try pushing the skip button for about forty minutes whilst recording numbers and see how many you miss!!) and this is a heck of a marathon to get through. Every last one of them has no annotation and most are presented full frame, with just a few being partial frame. Whilst the quantity is certainly huge, I am not so sure about the quality, but a thorough document of the film it is!
††† The sets and props gallery comprises 47 sketches and detailed drawings (still unannotated) that show how some of the overall detailed elements for the film were developed.
††† The storyboard sequences detail three specific scenes in the film: Welcome Wagon, Destruction (of the cities) and the original ending. These comprise 16, 59 and 17 separate storyboards respectively. These storyboards look just a tad too "finished" to me and I am suspecting that they have been redrawn for the package - but I am probably wrong.
††† Perhaps it is just me, but I thought the concept of a teaser trailer is a short, sharp piece that is designed to pique interest in a film. These three efforts are basically full blown trailers, lasting a total of 5:09. Two are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and one in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, all not 16x9 enhanced and with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The second of the 1.78:1 trailers is a little on the dark side, but that is the only problem with the three as far as I can see.
††† This little collection comprises:
††† These are all interesting variations on the same theme, apart from the Apple Computer advert, which is distinctly different. Considering the Super Bowl advert was five months before the film opened, you can get some idea of how long the film took to make, as well as the amount of promotion that went into it.
††† And we finish off with the obligatory theatrical trailer, your basic two and one half minute summation of the film. I think we all saw enough of the local version of it back in 1996 so know pretty well what it looks like! Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.
††† Highlight the Attacker and click and aside from some animation as the clamps are released, you get access to two menus: Combat Review and Monitor Earth Broadcasts. The former gives direct access to twelve clips from the film highlighting some of the destruction to be seen. The latter gives us twenty two of the special video news clips created for the film that were shown on the video monitors during filming.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
††† Ignoring all the previous releases of the film on DVD - and believe me there have been a few - I have been unable to find any mention of an equivalent Region 1 release. Region 2 (UK) certainly has this version and it sounds as if it is pretty much the same as the Region 4, barring the addition of a trailer for The Day After Tomorrow. Region 2 (Japan) turns up a limited edition release that is now out of print that aside from featuring a nice digipak packaging appears to be pretty much the same as the Region 4 too (although vastly more costly). The Region 2 (Japan) version would probably be the preferred choice but since it is now out of print, the choice would therefore be the Region 4 or Region 2 (UK) depending upon whether you want the best price (Region 4) and whether you want the additional trailer (Region 2 (UK)).
††† I am not going to get involved in the carping about the perceived celebration of America here. If that is the level at which you view this film, then I would respectfully suggest you have missed the whole point of the film. Film is about entertainment and this is as pure a popcorn flick as you are ever going to find. Independence Day is a great, entertaining, big budget B-gradish popcorn film in the finest tradition of B-grade popcorn films. Independence Day: Extended Edition takes that film and presents it on an even better DVD than the original Special Edition. The added dts soundtrack is a beauty and even if you already have the film on DVD, you should really consider upgrading to this new release. Anyone want to buy a copy of the Special Edition off me?
|DVD||Denon DVD-1600, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|