Independence Day (Special Edition)

Okay, we all know the story of Independence Day. On July 1st a huge alien mother ship takes up an orbit around the moon. A bunch of smaller ships break off and attack the major cities of the world.

Okay, we all know the story of Independence Day. On July 1st a huge alien mother ship takes up an orbit around the moon. A bunch of smaller ships break off and attack the major cities of the world. A small group of humans lead the fight to eventually save the world. Independence Day is without a doubt one of the best known and best loved Sci-Fi films of all time. The all star cast, inventive special effects and fast paced story have made this movie one of the most greatly anticipated DVDs of all time.

Since we all know just how good the cast is here I will not go into details. Suffice it to say Jeff Goldblum, Will Smith and Bill Pulman do incredible jobs at bringing their characters to life. Unlike many blockbuster action/Sci-Fi flicks ID4 has a real story with three-dimensional characters. They handle all aspects of the story extremely well. There is romance, comedy and adventure. Difficult enough genres when taken separately but a real test of an actor’s ability in the combination shown in Independence Day. Director Roland Emmerich holds it all together and keeps the action always moving forward.

The real star of this release on DVD is the composition of the two-disc set. The first disc holds not one but two versions of Independence Day. The first is the well know theatrical release. Thanks to seamless branching there is a second cut of the movie. This special release features scenes cut from the original release ranging from a few seconds here and there to a hole subplot. Since Independence Day is so well know most people will be able to identify the added material. The one full subplot restored here is between the crop duster (Randy Quaid) and his kids. It turns out he is their step-father and the youngest son is very ill. This adds scenes throughout most of the movie although it does little to advance the main plot. Then there is the scene where David (Goldblum) phones his ex-wife in the White House. In the original he seems to get the number right away. In the special edition he has to search through several of her knick names until his father finally has him try under her married name. Some scenes do help to flesh out the characters a bit more. There is one rather large scene where the head of Area 51 (Brent Spiner) takes David into the alien ship. This helps to lay the groundwork for how David could come up with the computer virus needed at the end of the movie. There is also a scene specific commentary by the director and special effects supervisors.

The second disc is full of extras. There is a half-hour making of documentary, a mockumentary of the invasion and a 33 minute HBO special on the film hosted by Goldblum. Add to this sotryboards, artwork and the unseen, unused original ending where Quaid attacks the ship with his biplane. For those of us with DVD-ROM capabilities there are two games, one of the disc and another online. The usual grab bag of trailers and TV spots are also included. Look hard because there are some inventive easter eggs lurking on the disc.

The sound is incredible. This version is so far above the Prologic VHS release that it seems like a completely different movie. When the mother ship over flies the moon the subwoofer starts off low and builds until the room shakes. The destruction scenes are visceral in their impact. The dogfights between the aliens and US Marines is something that has to be heard to be believed. It will seem that they are in your living room. Sometimes during the added material I noticed the sound drop a bit or the musical score interrupted but this is minor. The video transfer is fresh, anamorphic and the disc is THX certified. Get Independence Day or just leave the planet.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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