Action Adventure

'Independence Day: Resurgence' Blu-ray Review: As the world faces its end, it's spectacle that survives

October 28, 2016Ben MK

A sequel twenty years in the making, Independence Day: Resurgence is one of those films that subscribes to the notion that bigger is always better, even going so far as to cannily point out the fact in one of its trailers. But while this followup to the 1996 blockbuster is "definitely bigger than the last one," is it really an improvement?

The story picks up in real-time — two decades after the catastrophic events of the first movie — with the human race having picked up the pieces and learnt its lesson from its first, disastrous extraterrestrial encounter. Consequently, the Earth and many of its major cities have not only been rebuilt; they've also been heavily fortified using a hybrid of human and alien technology, resulting in an Orbital Defense System, the pinnacle of which is a Space Defense Station situated on the moon, where pilot Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) is based.

When the aliens return with a vengeance, Jake must team up with characters new and old — among them, his fiancĂ©e Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe), her father, ex-President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman), former "cable guy" David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), who's now the director of Earth Space Defense, Dr. Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner) and fellow pilot Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher), the son of Will Smith's now-deceased hero from the original movie — to protect the planet. This time, however, they'll not only have to fend off scores of alien fighters; they'll also have to go up against an all-new threat: a massive alien Queen bent on harvesting the Earth's molten core.

Factor in the introduction of a benevolent alien species and, needless to say, Resurgence feels overstuffed with thinly-developed characters and half-baked ideas, an attempt to pass the narrative torch to a whole new generation of actors, as well as to build upon its predecessor's shallow mythology in order to justify future installments. However, while the effort on the part of writer/director Roland Emmerich and co-writers Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin and James Vanderbilt is appreciated, the result can't help but feel like a slapdash attempt at assembling a sequel, let alone one that took the better part of twenty years to come together.

The good news, at least, is that Resurgence satisfies on the action front, raising the bar when it comes to the aerial dogfights and city-wide devastation depicted in the original, and adding some welcome ground-based combat to the mix, including a visual effects tour de force of a climax that features Goldblum's character driving a school bus across the New Mexico desert, while being chased by the towering alien Queen. It's a moment that recalls Goldblum sitting in a back of a Jeep while being chased by a T-Rex in Jurassic Park. But then again, Independence Day: Resurgence is at its best when it's evoking our fondness for the blockbusters of days gone by.

Independence Day: Resurgence makes a huge impact on Blu-ray, thanks to its reference-grade visual presentation, which boasts striking colors and black levels as deep as a starless night sky. The razor-sharp 1080p picture quality is most impressive, however, when it's showcasing the epic destruction wreaked by a massive, 3,000-mile-wide alien ship's descent towards the Atlantic Ocean, as it obliterates structures, triggers tsunamis, and sweeps up people, vehicles, and anything else you can think of in its path. As for the audio, it's a similar story, as the accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix perfectly recreates the 360-degree chaos of the film's set-piece action sequences, immersing audiences in the sounds of laser fire, explosions, spaceship flybys and alien screeches.

Fox's two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Deleted Scenes (8:24) - Eight scenes, playable with or without audio commentary by Roland Emmerich ("Alternate Opening," "Bus Stop," "White House Destruction," "Charlie Asks Rain Out," "Roadside Conversation," "Queen's Chamber," "President Lanford's Death" and "Catherine's Goodbye").
  • The War of 1996 (5:11) - A faux news broadcast that bridges the gap between the end of the first film and the beginning of the sequel.
  • It's Early ABQ! (3:07) - Fred Armisen, playing a TV host named Terry Dudley, interviews Judd Hirsch's character, Julius Levinson, and Jeff Goldblum's character, David Levinson, for the faux morning show It's Early Albuquerque!
  • Another Day: The Making of Independence Day: Resurgence (55:25) - A four-part making of documentary that takes a look at the cast, the production design, the visual effects and the alien designs ("A New Squadron," "Earth As We Know It," "The Tools of the Future" and "The Invaders").
  • Gag Reel (6:14) - Goofs and flubs from the set.
  • Audio Commentary by Roland Emmerich - Director Roland Emmerich tells stories from the film's production and talks about its story, its characters and the actors who portray them, the visual effects, the script and more.
  • Concept Art - 147 images in total ("Aliens," "AI," "Humans," "Locations" and "Original Presentation Images").
  • Theatrical Trailers (5:18) - Three trailers ("Theatrical Trailer 1," "Theatrical Trailer 2" and "TV Spot").

Independence Day: Resurgence is available from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment as of October 18th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles. The total runtime is 2 Hrs. 0 Min.

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