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Independence Day on DVD

And here we have a new “Limited Edition” of the disaster movie that really put Devlin/Emmerich on the map. This is the absolute worst kind of new DVD version: it offers nothing new and even less than the previous Five-Star edition. The audio and video transfers appear to be exactly the same.

To be fair, it does actually offer something new. It features a sneak peek at Roland Emmerich’s new disaster movie, The Day After Tomorrow, released in theaters May 28, 2004. At about two minutes long, the peek gives you nothing you can’t see in the trailers, but the movie does look pretty darn exciting (just like ID4 did).

"ID4," as the producers liked to call it, was the big blockbuster summer flick of 1996. Inspired by the Irwin Allen disaster movies of the 1970's, films like "The Poseidon Adventure" and "The Towering Inferno," it begins with the virtual end of civilization as we know it at the hands of a race of extraterrestrials.

The aliens show up in a massive mother ship that disgorges an armada of smaller (only about fifteen miles wide) saucers that take up positions over major Earth cities. Computer guy Jeff Goldblum is the only person to have figured out that these visitors aren't there for any good purpose, however, and he races to Washington DC to warn the president (Bill Pullman) of mankind's impending doom.

The Pres and his entourage manage to escape in Air Force One, just as the aliens unleash their terrifying power. Unfortunately, most of the populace isn't so lucky and Washington, New York, Los Angeles, and various other major cities around the world, are struck down in virtually one blow of the aliens super weaponry.

This leaves the survivors to pick up the pieces of humanity and mount a counter offensive against the invaders which, given the overwhelming power of the aliens, is easier said than done.

The first hour of "Independence Day," to the point just after the aliens' attack, is pretty darn good. It sets up the story well, introduces the characters and their situations, and uses some great special effects to show the alien ships' arrival over the cities - and, of course, the zapping of said urban areas looks pretty neat.

Then the movie, unfortunately, goes into the tank - and the last hour and a half is so predictable, hackneyed, silly, etcetera, that it almost destroys the enjoyment you have of the first hour.

Still, this is a popcorn movie at best; just make sure you eat the popcorn during the first hour, so you can catch up on your sleep during the remainder of the show.

Extras on this limited edition include the very same two audio commentaries present on the Five Star version, as well as the extra nine minutes of footage also present on the Five Star version. There is also a “coupon” good for up to $6.50 off to see The Day After Tomorrow, which seems the only advantage of having another version released. If you already own an older version of this film, there’s no way to justify a purchase of this one. If you’re looking to buy Independence Day, the Five Star version is still better, but it doesn’t have the coupon.

Independence Day, from 20th Century Fox Home Video
153 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
Starring Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum
Written by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, directed by Roland Emmerich


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