Independence Day 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

The biggest surprise for me when it comes to the 1996 film INDEPENDENCE DAY is that 20 years later, it still holds up.  I remember seeing the film in theaters and thinking it was a ridiculous, yet fun film, but I never would have thought I’d still appreciate it so many years after its initial release.  We’ve seen a lot of similarly themed films over the last two decades, but ID4 managed to find the right combination to make everything work.

Independence Day 4K Ultra HD

Earth is under attack from aliens and through this invasion, we follow three main heroes.  We have our fearless leader, President Whitman (Pullman), the genius scientist David (Goldblum) and the cocky fighter pilot, Captain Hiller (Smith).  As the aliens begin their descent on earth, these three, along with several other characters, come together to launch a counter attack on the aliens before they destroy all of humanity.  The idea of following a disaster through the eyes of a regular person along with a leader is something director Roland Emmerich would duplicate a few times in GODZILLA, DAY AFTER TOMORROW and others.

Independence Day 4K Ultra HD

Roland Emmerich somehow made everything make sense and even though we knew in the back of our heads that the premise was unbelievable and even a little silly, we bought into it.  One of the main reasons the audience is so willing to get suckered into this story is because of the charming performances of Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum.  Smith is at the top of his game in ID4; he’s incredibly likeable and he stands tall in the face of the absurdity going on around him.  This is the Will Smith that America fell in love with and when I watch some of his early work, I become even more perplexed as to why he insists on hiding his charm in every movie he does these days.  As great as Smith is, Goldblum is just as likeable and does a great job even though he gets saddled with some of the more ridiculous lines.

Independence Day 4K Ultra HD

This was my first viewing of the “special edition” of the film, which features an additional nine minutes of footage.  If anything, ID4 is a bit long at nearly 2.5 hours, so I don’t think we needed more footage, but the footage added focused on Russell’s (Randy Quaid) kids and their health.  We also get an extended scene of David in the cockpit of the alien spacecraft, but nothing that really stands out as impacting the film.

Independence Day 4K Ultra HD

Of course, the downside to watching an effects-laden movie 20 years later is that the effects don’t hold up very well.  ID4 does a better job than most, but there are still glaring scenes where the effects look shoddy compared to today’s standards.  But that’s kind of the fun of the film.  If you loved this movie in 1996, there’s no reason you won’t like it in 2016.  On the other hand, if you weren’t even born in 1996, you may not appreciate it as much.


Video: This is the oldest film I’ve watched on 4K, so I was a little curious to see how the picture was going to stand up.  The answer is a bit mixed.  This is clearly an upgrade over the Blu-ray, but if I’m showing off the video capabilities of the UHD format, this is not the title I’d choose.  This is a CGI heavy film and scenes where a character is in the foreground looking at the spaceship (which happens a lot early on), the problems and inconsistencies with the CGI really stand out.  The 4K almost makes the actors look like cardboard cutouts in front of a spaceship. Where the 4K does stand out is during non-CGI scenes.  The scene where David walks back into his office after everyone ran to the shelter is a good example of the clarity and color enhancements you get with the 4K and HDR.

Audio: The ID4 Blu-ray was always one of the go-to Blu-rays to show off the sound system and the DTS-X mix on the 4K might even be better.

There are no 4K exclusive features included on the 4K disc, but it does include a copy of the Blu-ray.

Click 4K Ultra HD to read more of our 4K reviews.


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