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Independence Day: Resurgence Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD Review

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) movie poster Independence Day: Resurgence

Theatrical Release: June 24, 2016 / Running Time: 120 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Roland Emmerich / Writers: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich (characters, story & screenplay); James A. Woods, Nicolas Wright (story & screenplay); James Vanderbilt (screenplay)

Cast: Liam Hemsworth (Jake Morrison), Jeff Goldblum (David Levinson), Jessie T. Usher (Dylan Hiller), Bill Pullman (President Whitmore), Maika Monroe (Patricia Whitmore), Sela Ward (President Lanford), William Fichtner (General Adams), Judd Hirsch (Julius Levinson), Brent Spiner (Dr. Brakish Okun), Patrick St. Espirit (Secretary of Defense Tanner), Vivica A. Fox (Jasmine Hiller), Angelababy (Rain Lao), Charlotte Gainsbourg (Catherine Marceaux), DeObia Oparei (Dikembe Umbutu), Nicolas Wright (Floyd Rosenberg), Travis Tope (Charlie Miller), Chin Han (Commander Jiang), Gbenga Akinnagbe (Agent Travis), Robert Loggia (General Grey), John Storey (Dr. Isaacs), Joey King (Sam), Jenna Purdy (voice of Sphere), Garrett Wareing (Bobby), Hayes Wellford (Felix), Mckenna Grace (Daisy), James Andre Woods (Lt. Ritter), Robert Neary (Captain McQuaide)

Buy Independence Day: Resurgence from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD DVD + Digital HD 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD Instant Video

Independence Day: Resurgence was supposed to be this year's Jurassic World, an effects-laden mid-'90s sci-fi action blockbuster rebooted in a way that appealed to both those who grew up watching it and the next generation of impressionable adolescents. Resurgence even took the additional step of bringing back principal original cast members
(most prominently, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, and Judd Hirsch) and creators (writer-director Roland Emmerich and co-writer Dean Devlin). But somewhere along the way, Resurgence stumbled, failing to win over or even interest a significant amount of the moviegoing population. This was no Live Free or Die Hard, much less a Jurassic World.

Fox must have seen it coming because they wouldn't screen the movie in advance for critics. And by the time the summer holiday for which this was tailor-made came rolling along, Resurgence was already down to fifth place at the box office, a slot its 1996 predecessor did not fall to until mid-August, its seventh weekend in release.

You can argue it was unreasonable to expect Jurassic World here. The original Independence Day was extraordinarily popular, but it has not held up as the great film that Jurassic Park is now considered. And even if Jurassic's sequels failed to recreate the same luster and love, they at least kept people interested in the idea of dinosaurs salvaged from extinction and endangering mankind. That was a concept unique to those films and the Michael Crichton novels they were based on. Independence Day was the 1996 version of an alien invasion disaster movie. It cemented Will Smith as a movie star and wowed the public with its realistic explosions of the White House and other landmarks. But it was kind of a super expensive B-movie, the kind that Emmerich and Devlin's subsequent efforts (like 1998's Godzilla and 2009's 2012) have been easy to identify and lament as.

"Independence Day: Resurgence" attempts to appeal to two generations with hunks old (Jeff Goldblum) and young (Liam Hemsworth) working together.

Like its predecessor, Resurgence takes place in the present day. Twenty years have passed since aliens invaded our planet and threatened to wipe us out, but failed. In this world, the US has an active space military program. Among those involved in this is Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), a cocksure pilot stationed on a moon base. Grounded after his heroics cover up a potentially disastrous blunder, Jake has connections to two figures from the original film. He is feuding with Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher), who is following in the footsteps of his late, heroic father (Smith, seen only in a stately portrait) over a near-deadly incident. Jake is also engaged to Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe, replacing Mae Whitman in a bit of unnecessary looksist recasting), the daughter of the president during the world-altering "War of '96."

The former President Whitmore (Pullman) now sports a full white beard. Unpredictable and still haunted by the past, he uses a cane. Less traumatized by the war is David Levinson (Goldblum), the genius technician who first decoded the signal that warned of an alien attack. He journeys to Africa, where an alien ship has remained, rubbing shoulders with war lords and a former flame (Charlotte Gainsbourg).

Despite a screenplay credited to five writers (never a good sign), the plot isn't any more complex than you expect it to be. Aliens are coming back to attack Earth again, while our hopes of stopping them lie with the new generation of pilots like Jake, Dylan, and even Patricia.

President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) is back, sporting the full white beard of a man who has seen some things.

Resurgence feels like a bad idea for a nostalgic Super Bowl commercial. With a $165 million budget coming after decades of sporadic development, it strikes you as a colossal waste of time and money in realized feature film form. Emmerich keeps the sequel very much in the style of the original. Unfortunately, that mold fell out of style a long time ago.
As a result, it plays like a nonsatirical Starship Troopers or a vastly more expensive variation on bad Syfy original movies.

Clearly, you need Will Smith here. This is like making a Top Gun 2 without Tom Cruise. Smith's star may not shine as brightly as it did before, but his likable protagonist is a fundamental component this follow-up cannot do without and has nothing close to offer in its place. A full hour, that is the second half of the film, is devoted to action climax. It is noisy and uninvolving, culminating with an Area 51 showdown that finds the aliens' Harvester Queen being targeted by our flying aces, with a school bus full of children in the vicinity for good measure. This is just one of many times when the film is ridiculous. Another is when President Whitmore shows up midway through suddenly clean-shaven, ready to volunteer his services.

Characters disappear and reappear without us ever caring and no one seems to have any kind of depth or arc. Arguably the most fully developed are two characters you probably don't remember from the original film (a coma-escaping doctor played by Brent Spiner and his dear companion played by John Storey). So many bones are thrown to China, a market whose commercial support was desperately needed (and supplied to the tune of $75 million). Oh, and blink and you'll miss a silent cameo by Robert Loggia, who filmed it shortly before his death last December.

Resurgence goes wrong in a way that few big budget tentpoles do and its commercial failure was relatively unprecedented. It's a grand scale miscalculation a major studio, in-demand actors, and seasoned crews could not have foreseen. From opening in a distant second place to not even being able to triple that first weekend gross, Resurgence had a performance inviting comparisons to Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and last summer's Fantastic Four debacle. It's more on the order of the former, though as a sequel to a hit, maybe a likening to Disney's unwanted, nearby Alice Through the Looking Glass is most appropriate. However you wish to process Resurgence's disappointments, they are significant. Barely grossing $100 million domestic meant this sequel sold about 12 million tickets in North America. Twenty summers earlier, its predecessor sold an estimated 70 million tickets.

Getting another chance to be noticed or ignored, Resurgence recently hit stores on DVD, Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, and 4K Ultra HD. This review covers Fox's two-disc Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD edition.

Independence Day: Resurgence: Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital HD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray 3D & Blu-ray Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
7.1 DTS-HD MA (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Video Service, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Turkish, Ukrainian) 5.1 DTS (Russian)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish, French, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Brazilian Portuguese, Finnish, Arabic, Estonian, Hebrew, Icelandic, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Portuguese, Russian, Ukrainian, Turkish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English, Spanish, French, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Russian, Swedish
Release Date: October 18, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (2 BD-50s)
Blue Keepcase in Holographic Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as Blu-ray Combo ($39.99 SRP), DVD + Digital HD ($29.98 SRP), 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD ($39.99 SRP), and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Independence Day: Resurgence may not deliver anything spectacular on a dramatic or artistic level, but at least the movie boasts the high production values its budget implies. Whether in 3D or 2D, the 2.40:1 presentation is sharp, crisp, and immaculate, while the 7.1 DTS-HD master audio soundtrack consistently engages from all directions. This probably won't compete for any technical awards like the original did (one for two at the Oscars), but that may be more a reflection of the film's failings than the sound work.

Julius (Judd Hirsch) and Sam (Joey King) comfort one another in this deleted roadside scene. This United Worlds News newsman gives a special and serious report on "The War of 1996."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The extras, all relegated to the standard 2D Blu-ray, begin with deleted scenes. There are eight in total (8:24) and they are
presented with optional audio commentary by director/writer Roland Emmerich explaining their deletions. They include an alternate opening in Russian and a mostly CG-animated White House destruction scene.

Next up, "The War of 1996" (5:11) is a faux cable news channel's special report reflecting on the events of the first film and what has transcended in the peaceful years since (like the 2007 death of Will Smith's character) with some in-character interviews.

"It's Early, ABQ!" (3:07) is one of the more entertaining and notable bonus features you'll encounter. It's a faux local Albuquerque morning talk show hosted by a character played by Fred Armisen, who awkwardly interviews Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch) and his son (Goldblum) about his book. Liam Hemsworth makes an appearance as an Australian make-up artist.

Fred Armisen plays an Albuquerque daytime talk show host in the creative "It's Early, ABQ!" Roland Emmerich directs Brent Spiner in "Another Day: The Making of 'Independence Day: Resurgence.'"

"Another Day: The Making of Independence Day: Resurgence" (55:25) is a four-part documentary (or four making-of featurettes, if you prefer). It pays attention to the new and returning cast, the sets, the effects, the bluescreen filmmaking, and the aliens. Few will want to spend another hour thinking about the movie's creation.

A gag reel (6:14) preserves bloopers and cast shenanigans, including plenty of Goldbluming.

Next, we get a feature audio commentary by Emmerich. He has a propensity to narrate, to point out the obvious, and to say flattering things about the cast. If you give this a listen, you'll be ready to be finished about a quarter of the way in, if you even make it that long.

Goldblums gonna Goldblum in the gag reel. A concept art gallery still shows a man putting his hand inside the Sphere.

A substantial concept art gallery is divided into five sections: Aliens (70 stills), AI (9 stills), Humans (37 stills, which are mostly of spaceships), Locations (19 stills),
and Original Presentation Images (18 stills). They're presented as slideshows you can advance manually or automatically.

Finally, two theatrical trailers and a TV spot for Resurgence (5:18) are kindly and somewhat uncharacteristically included.

"Sneak Peek" allows you to revisit any or all of the disc-opening previews: a digital movies promo followed by trailers for Assassin's Creed, Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse, and the mobile phone game Independence Day: Resurgence - Battle Heroes.

The menu loops actiony clips and score. The discs both resume playback and support bookmarking.

An insert supplying your Digital HD code and further advertising the mobile game join the two full-color discs inside the eco-friendly keepcase that is topped by a holographic slipcover.

"Independence Day: Resurgence" explores how the aliens' return affects the offspring of those who fought in the Great War of '96: Steven Hiller's son Dylan (Jessie T. Usher), Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), and Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe).

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Seemingly the most expensive B-movie ever produced, Independence Day: Resurgence is likely to disappoint those who remember the original film fondly from their childhood. It will also bore those entering without any memories or expectations as a noisy, ludicrous display of the worst qualities of its makers. It's consistently bad without ever being bad enough to be good, which is just about the worst thing a movie can do.

Fox's Blu-ray 3D edition delivers the high quality picture and sound you expect plus more bonus features than the average person would ever feel compelled to explore. If the movie was much, much better, it might be one to recommend.

Buy Independence Day: Resurgence from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray Combo Pack / DVD / 4K Ultra HD / Instant Video

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Liam Hemsworth: The Hunger Games: Complete 4-Film Collection | Maika Monroe: It Follows
Bill Pullman: Newsies | Jeff Goldblum: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou | Judd Hirsch: This Must Be the Place
Jessie T. Usher: Survivor's Remorse: The Complete First Season | William Fichtner: Virtuosity Elysium

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Reviewed October 30, 2016.



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