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INDEPENDENCE DAY: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
Finally, it's happening: intelligent alien life forms are discovered - and they're coming to Earth in a giant spaceship. The bad news is they aren't bearing gifts. Fireblasting major cities around the world, the aliens are destroying life on Earth, and the world's only hope lies with a band of survivors (Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum) who get together for a desperate strike against the invaders. With the full backing of the President of the US (Bill Pullman).

Finally, it’s happening: intelligent alien life forms are discovered – and they’re coming to Earth in a giant spaceship. The bad news is they aren’t bearing gifts. Fireblasting major cities around the world, the aliens are destroying life on Earth, and the world’s only hope lies with a band of survivors who get together for a desperate strike against the invaders.

For all its weaknesses in the script and characterisations, ID4 is even better on the DVD (in widescreen) than it was on the big screen. Hard to imagine, but if you are well equipped (sound and image wise) the proximity and power of this audio visual adventure is truly awesome on a decent sized tv in your own home. The brilliant FX work overcomes the dreariness of the human elements (although Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith both give it their best shot) and the transfer is ear and eye boggling.

Fans will need no encouragement to add this to their collection, but others should consider renting (or borrowing) first. The film is well worth giving a spin on DVD, but I am left unimpressed by the extras on the two discs. First of all, navigation is not all that clear. Here’s a tip; watch the menu text change colour from white to light green on your selection. Second problem is the scene selection facility is nowhere to be found. Commentaries are hiding under the Language Selection submenu. At one point in my search for the director & producer commentary I ended up with the Icelandic subtitles.

Perhaps worst of all, when you do find the extra features, they are simply not that great. Two sets of commentaries – the second by the visual effects supervisors – are a generous touch, but I wish they were more personal and engaging. Sure, they offer some interesting trivia and background to the making of the film, but they lack depth and passion. In some places they are so disconnected from the film as to be distancing. Wrong result.

Even the personality-driven, Jeff Goldblum presented feature, made for HBO and using a touch of gritty black and white pseudo-doco style, relies too much on actual clips from the film to be truly insightful. This also applies to the other features: there is much too much cannibalising going on. It’s all too ‘aren’t we great’ breastbeating, and not that much real ‘extra’ stuff. C’mon, guys, you can do better.

But let me end on a positive note: the two disc set uses a clever internal flip holder for the second disc which is simple and effective to use, and it means the disc package itself remains the same size as your other DVDs for easy storage. (Unlike say Magnolia, which is also two discs but the packaging is a clumsy job of the two standard DVD boxes glued together. Yuk.)
Andrew L. Urban

Published 2/11/2000

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INDEPENDENCE DAY ( PG)
(US)

CAST: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Margaret Colin, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia, James Rebhorn, Harvey Fierstein

DIRECTOR: Roland Emmerich

RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: November 1, 2000

Two Disc Set
Special features:

* Original & Special Edition versions

* Documentary ‘Creating Reality’

* TV Special, ID4 Invasion

* Alternate ending







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