UPDATED 4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
“INDEPENDENCE DAY: 20th ANNIVERSARY EDITION”
4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray; 1996; PG-13 for sci-fi destruction and violence; streaming via Amazon Video/Prime, FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play, iTunes (4K), Movies Anywhere (4K), Vudu, YouTube
Best extra: "Independence Day: A Legacy Surging Forward" with new interviews
HARD TO IMAGINE it's been two decades since writer/director Roland Emmerich and co-writer/producer Dean Devlin gave us Earth's final stand against invading aliens. "ID4" was hugely entertaining, finishing No. 1 at the 1996 box office making $306 million in the U.S. and $800 million worldwide.
So it's no surprise, with Emmerich and Devlin's sequel "Independence Day: Resurgence" hitting theaters June 24, Fox would release "ID4" on the new 4K Ultra HD disc format.
Sourced from a new 4K scan from the original camera negative with the expanded 4K/HDR (High Dynamic Range) the results are WOW!
Emmerich calls their next installment a cast reunion with most of the original ensemble back: Jeff Goldblum (David Levinson), Bill Pullman (President Whitmore), Vivica A. Fox (Jasmine), Brent Spiner (Dr. Brackish Okun) and Judd Hirsch (Julius Levinson). One obvious face is missing – Will Smith, who became a megastar as the sharp and capable Capt. Steven Hiller, an F-18 jet-jock, who piloted an alien spacecraft against the invaders. Smith originally signed on, but backed out after his sci-fi adventure "After Earth" bombed.
The 4K disc includes the original commentary recorded in the '90s, with Emmerich calling Smith, "A terrific actor." He felt the young star was at his best during the emotional scenes. "He does it so naturally, it feels like he's not acting. And, the camera love[s] his face."
There are plenty of new faces in the sequel including Sela Ward as President Lanford, Charlotte Gainsbourg as Dr. Catherine Marceaux, Liam Hemsworth ("Hunger Games") as Jake Morrison, and Maika Monroe ("It Follows") as President Whitmore's now adult daughter. Monroe talks at length about seeing "ID4" at age 10, and how she had a huge crush on Jeff Goldblum.
The 4K set includes two Blu-rays – one with just the movie, like the 4K disc, featuring the theatrical cut, and my favorite, the Extended Cut with nine-additional minutes that clarifies Russell Casse's (Randy Quaid) relationship with his kids. It also includes a hilarious scene of Hirsch and Goldblum driving the wrong way while trying to get to the White House.
The second Blu-ray includes all of the original bonus features from the 1996 and 2006 presentations, and the excellent "Independence Day: A Legacy Surging Forward." The film was actually inspired by the saucer films of the 1950s. "I always had a fascination with alien invasion movies," Emmerich says. He goes on to tell how he and Devlin had just finished the sleeper hit "Stargate" (1994), and, while on the press tour, they were constantly asked if they believed aliens had visited Earth. The usual response was, "No." Then, one day, Remmerich said, "Imagine if tomorrow we woke up and there was a 14-mile-wide spaceship above the city."
It was the origin of "ID4."
Emmerich and Devlin soon found themselves in a race; Tim Burton was producing the sci-fi parody "Mars Attacks!" at the same time. They headed to Mexico for a working vacation and, three weeks later, they had a script. They named it "Independence Day" just to give it a date since Burton's movie was locked into an August premiere.
Pullman recalls the script's tone – a mix of "action, humor, directness and sentimentality all kind of in a washing machine tumble." One of the best lines comes from Judd Hirsch, "If I knew I was gonna meet the President, I would have worn a tie. Look at me, I look like a schlemiel."
Devlin originally banged out President Whitmore's rousing speech in 15 minutes, just as a place holder – then totally forgot about it until the day of shooting and Pullman was in mid-rehearsal. As he finished, the extras, the crew and everyone started cheering. "It was a stroke of genius," Emmerich recalls.
"And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day when the world declared in one voice: We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!"
Fox's 4K presentation of "ID4" gives REAL HOPE to future 4K Ultra HD discs of classics filmed in color on 35mm film. Remember, it's nearly a one-to-one scan from the film grain to pixel. The 4K format was made for rich colors and produces whites like we've never seen on HDTV. It's evident throughout "ID4" that Emmerich used a white screen in pivotal moments to shock the viewer, almost like the flash of a bomb as aliens blitz humans. The super whites strike again when Capt. Hiller and a caravan of RVs cross the desert salt flats, with a separation seldom seen in digital filmmaking. The 35mm film grain is completely under control throughout the Theatrical and Extended cuts, a result of using the original camera negative. Only during the FX scenes does the image soften slightly. Colors are balanced, with saturated greens and blues as in the scene where David and his father play chess in the park with the Manhattan skyline in the distance.
The Fox 4K disc offers the vertically heightened DTS:X audio track for an expansive audio experience from front to back and above with explosive effects and music cues.
The discs also include FX featurettes, the original ending, the Super Bowl Teaser trailer that showed the White House exploding, and the '96 "Making of" featurette hosted by Goldblum.
Add "ID4" to your 4K shopping cart (in-store or online) for the best impact on the latest home theater system. You won't be disappointed.
― Bill Kelley III, High-Def Watch producer