Independence Day (1996)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Long, but memorable

A big day is headed our way soon, can you guess what it is without looking at the title of this post? The real answer to that is “no”, but it’s the 4th of July, otherwise known as Independence Day. Now, Roland Emmerich’s movie based on this holiday marks a lot of important points – it’s where people started recognizing who Emmerich was, it was one of Will Smith’s early films in his career, which…by the way…is the reason why most of Smith’s movies came out on the Fourth of July weekend ever since. Of course, a lot of critics don’t really like Emmerich, or anything he has ever done, but Independence Day is one of the only films that he has made that has received a generally positive rating overall.

Aliens have made their way to major cities all around the world, and no one knows why. These ships are massive, as big as cities, they replace the sky. When the aliens make it clear that they are there purely as hostile creatures bent on destroying everything, President Whitmore (Bill Pullman), Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) and scientist David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) devise a plan to rid the world from these alien scumbags once and for all, saving the human race from extinction in the process.

What is the first thing you think of when thinking back to this film? You think about what you would typically think about with Rolan Emmerich, the visuals of things getting destroyed. Usually that’s what his movies are about, in this instance, that is just an element of the film, and where normally, movies would be leading up to that as a climactic finale, the destruction of everything happens within the first hour, and the rest of the film is purely war against the aliens. When you think about it, that’s interesting, but the movie is two and a half hours long, it would have been nice to see more of the nice visuals, because in 1996, the visuals were absolutely astonishing, and still is to a degree.

This film is set apart from other alien movies, because as you probably know, everyone knows exactly what Independence Day is, it’s a possible conversation starter. It’s quite a unique film. The UFO that replaces the sky is still its own creation, and no one has ever even tried to match it since. Even the fact that this is one of Will Smith’s first films is common knowledge, because people love Smith in this film, he breathes life into the film with his comedy. Sure, it’s a bit Fresh Prince of Bel Air at times, but seriously…who cares.

The diverse personalities in the film is very believable. It’s not a typical war story where military personell just fight the bad guy until one side wins, no we have people scared to death of the aliens and people who are crazy and welcome the mysterious creatures, and a believable worried president.  I will say that Harvey Fierstein is a great actor in anything that he is in, and even though he brings flair to the silver screen, his raspy voice just gets in the way sometimes, and gets annoying.

The part where this film lacked the most was its very basic scriptwriting. The aliens show up, and even though they slightly explain why, it still doesn’t make sense, not fully. There is no background info on practically any of the characters, we just have to accept that they are there, and they are doing their job to stop the aliens, who are also there. There is, however, some magnificent one-liners in the movie, as the comedy is actually quite fresh and hilarious, including Jeff Goldblum’s signature line, “Must go faster!”

I love alien movies, whether they be thrillers, comedies, or horror films. As long as they are memorable and do their given material appropriately, I usually have no problem with them. Yes, I.D. could have been a shorter movie, and yes, they could have had more focus on the backgrounds of all the players, but when it comes right down to it, it’s still a pretty entertaining movie, one that I don’t mind watching more than once.

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