Independence Day

Over the span of three days, mysterious invaders from outer space wipe out virtually every population center on Earth. The last vestiges of the human race fight back against impossible odds to save mankind from extinction.

Independence Day—also commonly known as ID4, since the climactic action takes place on July 4—is a throwback to the science-fiction movies of the 1950s with the blockbuster appeal of the 1970s disaster films. Featuring an ensemble cast that includes Will Smith, Bill Pullman, and Jeff Goldblum with the aid of some phenomenal marketing, the film was a resounding success in 1996, when it raked in over $300 million in box-office receipts. While hardly original, the film is a lot of fun and has held up well over time.

The movie's release on Blu-ray has been highly anticipated, and Fox has delivered a fine video presentation. The 27Mbps AVC encode looks great, especially on a film over a decade old. The print is clean with a slight veil of grain that only interferes with the picture in the darker sequences, which tend to look a bit noisy. Color saturation is excellent and very natural looking. Fine detail is very good as well, but some of the CGI effects can be easily discerned with the high-resolution image that Blu-ray provides.

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack is slightly inconsistent on this release, which was evident even though I was listening to only the "core" DTS data on my PS3. At times, the bass is thundering, especially with the arrival of the invaders. But when the attack begins, the bass is a bit anemic by comparison. Surround ambience is underutilized, and even when the action picks up on the screen, the mix isn't as encompassing as it could be. Dialog is intelligible, although it's recorded at a slightly lower level than the rest of the mix, requiring me to constantly turn the volume up and down throughout the movie depending on the action.

The special features include a couple of commentary tracks as well as a trivia track. Theatrical trailers for Independence Day are in HD, as are some trailers for other Fox films on Blu-ray. Thankfully, you can choose to view these or not—they aren't forced on you before getting to the main menu. Also included is a rather pointless game called "Alien Scavenger Hunt" as well as a search function that lets you search for a specific item in the movie—say "White House"—and jump directly to the scene in which it blows up. Finally, if you own a D-Box motion-simulation system, this disc makes use of it to vibrate your seat during all the explosions.

I hadn't watched this film since seeing it in the theater almost 12 years ago, and I really enjoyed the experience on Blu-ray. The story holds up well, and how can you not cheer the human race as it kicks some alien butt? Recommended.

Release Date: March 11, 2008

Film: 8 out of 10
Picture: 8.5 out of 10
Sound: 7 out of 10

Review System

Sony PlayStation 3

JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)

Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 power amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner

M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer

Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector