Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Hi-Def Revelations: Independence Day

I spent part of today rewatching the 1996 blockbuster film Independence Day, as I do every July the 4th. It's become sort of an annual tradition for me.

I've probably seen the film fifty times now, and I get a lot of crap about it from friends and co-workers. I don't care. I know it's schlock, but there's something about it I just like.


Anyway, this year I watched it on blu ray in glorious 1080p resolution, and it's been, pardon the pun, eye opening. I'm seeing all kinds of things I never noticed before when I watched films in low-def, like a common peasant.


Like this, for instance. At the El Toro military base, Capt. Steven Hiller (played by Will Smith), drops a small box on the floor. His pal Capt. Jimmy Wilder (annoying played by Harry Connick Jr.), bends down to pick it up.

Jimmy opens the box and gasps, exclaiming "Stevie, this is a weddin' ring!"  Hiller sheepishly explains, "Jasmine kinda has a thing for dolphins..."

He's not wrong! Earlier in the film, we saw that Hiller's fiance Jasmine (played by Vivica A. Fox) is wearing earrings shaped like dolphins! Cool! I can't believe I never noticed that detail the previous forty nine times I've seen this movie! Thanks, blu ray!

Other things I noticed during this hi-def viewing:

In this scene, Secretary Of Defense Albert Nimziki (on the right) is in the Oval Office, speaking with an Aide. Obviously the aliens have already landed and infiltrated the White House at this point. How do I know? Because one of them's hiding on the Aide's head!

Get a load of that horrible looking hamster's nest on top of that guy's head! Jesus Christ, you know a toupee's bad when you can spot it on film! Why not just yank that moldy rug off his head and toss it in the dumpster? Surely he couldn't have looked any worse bald than he does with that thing! Keeee-rist!

This has nothing to do with high definition, but it's always been one of my favorite nonsensical scenes in the movie. As the alien ships approach, David Levinson (played by Jeff Goldblum) chats with Marty Gilbert (played by Harvey Fierstein) at the cable company where they work. 

Note the giant wall of monitors behind them. Every single one of them is tuned to a different channel.

Suddenly President Whitmore (played by Bill Pullman) appears on TV, to make a special announcement. Note that for some reason, several of the screens in the center of the wall have somehow merged together to display three large images of the President.

A few seconds later, the Prez urges the public to flee the cities as quickly as possible. In an effort to emphasize his words, ALL the screens combine into one massive display featuring Whitmore's solemn face.

How the holy hell could ANY of that happen? I suppose it's physically possible to program a wall of screens to combine into one display. But someone would have to control it. There's no way it could happen as shown, without human intervention. You'd have to invent some kind of sophisticated A.I. that could comprehend what it's hearing, and combine the screens at relevant and dramatic moments!

One last thing, that's fun to look for. When David announces the aliens are counting down to humanity's destruction, Marty gasps in horror. He says, "Oh my god! I gotta call my brother! I better call my housekeeper! I gotta call my lawyer! Ah, forget my lawyer!"

It's a funny moment, but the "Ah, forget my lawyer" line has obviously been dubbed. That's because if you look closely, Marty actually says, "Ah, F*CK my lawyer!" 

I'm betting the MPAA told the producers that line would earn them an R rating instead of PG-13, so they hurriedly dubbed over Marty's line with the less provocative "screw."

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