Independence Day—20th Century Fox (Blu-ray)
I remember when this film was originally launched on DVD. Talk about hype! Independence Day is one of the bigger Fox catalog titles and I'm sure there are a lot of people excited to see this one in HD. While it is still a solid action popcorn film, I think it has lost a bit of its lure over the years since its DVD release. I've seen this film several times now and I know it has lost a bit of luster for me. The comedy doesn't hold up well and I actually find myself surprised that I found it as entertaining as I did during its theatrical run. The action still holds up pretty well and even the special effects aren't half bad compared to today's standards. I'm glad Fox has decided to release this one early and I hope to see more great catalog releases over the next year.
This is the second high definition copy I've owned of this film. I owned it on the short lived D-Theater format as well. Unfortunately it wasn't a very good looking title on D-Theater. It was soft, a bit noisy and rather uninspiring. Thankfully that is not the case with the Blu-ray release. I was surprised just how much better this title looks this time around. That isn't to say it is perfect though. The only time I could find much to complain about was during the bigger special effects scenes. The producers used several different effects techniques including miniatures and it is quite obvious most of the time. Effects scenes are quite a bit softer than the principal photography and lack the fine object detail and depth of image. Live shots look excellent though with great contrast and dimension. Colors are bright and punchy and some of the outdoor sequences look exquisite. I think as more and more older spectacle films are released in HD we'll see more and more how effects shots affect overall image presentation. This is still the best this film has looked to date and a nice step up since the last HD release.
Fox continues to favor the DTS-HD Master Audio format and this lossless mix is a great presentation of the film's rather intense soundtrack. I would be lying if I didn't say that the sound design does sound a bit dated, but it is still a lot of fun. Anyone familiar with the track knows it has some intense moments of bass and presence, especially in the attack sequences early in the movie. The entire soundstage is used aggressively and I was surprised at how effectively the surround soundstage was utilized, even by today's standards. Tonal balance is excellent, even with the dialogue, and channel integration across the soundstage is nearly seamless. This is still a great movie soundtrack to crank up and continues to deliver the goods despite its age.
Fox has included a few good extras on this but it is light compared to the previous special edition we saw on DVD. There are two commentaries and a trivia track for fans of the film but aside from that all we get is a rather cheesy alien scavenger hunt game. I've been less than impressed with the Java games that Fox has been putting on their Blu-ray releases and I've yet to hear anyone else sing their praises.
This is definitely one of the higher profile and requested titles from Fox and kudos to them for the excellent audio and video presentation. I'm glad to see them improving on their HD masters and not just rehashing their D-Theater releases. Still I was disappointed that we didn't get the kind of treatment for this release that we got with DVD, including the alternate cut, but this is still a fun ride and worth a look for fans of the film.