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Director: Roland Emmerich
153 minutes (PG-13) 1996 widescreen 2.35:1
20th Century Fox DVD Region 1
review by Christopher Teague
'ID4', as it is commonly known, was a hit at the box office; two hours of pure
escapism, where you could sit and switch off. It concerned the premise of an alien
invasion on the earth, and the fight back headed by the US President (Bill Pullman), a
USAF pilot (Will Smith) and computer expert (Jeff Goldblum, who always seems to play
the same role).
And that is all you need too know, in this rollercoaster of a special
effects fest, characterisation and script (by Emmerich and Dean Devlin, the producer)
are kept too a minimum, allowing the CGI artists to eat up the screen (and scenery).
Emmerich just sits back, very much like the audience, and allows this too happen with
a wry smile on his face.
Acting wise, there are no great shakes, but the film does contain a cameo
from Brent Spiner, as a Government scientist who definitely doesn't get out much, and
a supporting role for Randy Quaid, portraying a stereotypical Vietnam/abduction vet -
the one member of the cast who is probably the only one who knows what a pile of the
tosh the film is. But enjoyable tosh!
Naturally, the people of Earth survive (in the guise of US citizens, with
a tea-boy role for the rest) and everyone lives happily ever after, rebuilding a new
Earth. If the film wasn't so blatantly US-orientated, with it's cringe-worthy
stomach-retching rallying speech from Pullman, as the President, it could've been
better, but then many things could've made this film better. Well, apart from the
special effects and music (courtesy of Brit composer, David Arnold, which is classic
On the DVD side of things, the picture sound quality is superb, with some
nice animated menus and the usual crop of stills and commentary, but this is a special
edition, since the package contains two discs: the first has both the theatrical and
director's cut of the film (not that you can tell the difference) whereas the second
is stuffed with a plethora of documentaries, trailers and anything else that fills the
remaining megabytes. One of the main highlights is the inclusion of the missing
'biplane' sequence, which is quite humorous but would've definitely made the film even
more unbelievable - if that is possible.
Even though it sounds as if I'm dissing this film, I did enjoy it, and
also the package is good value for money.
originally published online in VideoVista #19, October 2000
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