Quick Hit: Popcorn fodder at its finest.
Don’t get me wrong here – I enjoy this movie. Even average movies can provide a decent to large amount of entertainment. Independence Day (1996) is totally a product of its time – it’s all nineties – featuring Will Smith with a mustache, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Pullman, as President, nonetheless. Directed by Roland Emmerich, the film doesn’t have a ton to offer besides being a mindless escape.
The plot is simple – one day, aliens show up. President Whitmore (Pullman) decides to keep people in the cities because nothing has shown the aliens to be hostile. However, as you would expect, military on leave is called in, including Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith). Combined with that, there’s also David Levinson (Goldblum), a man who has history with the President and his aide. After he deciphers the code being broadcast from the satellite, it turns out the aliens aren’t nice after all.
This leads to where the movie goes from 1996 to 1950, because now we have the requisite shots of extras running down the streets as aliens destroy them. Spielberg showed how you could do this successfully with War of the Worlds, but here, it almost comes across as stock footage at times. And there’s very little here that’s new, which is disappointing, because some decent special effects go wasted. For instance, the classic explosion of the White House still holds up pretty well – due to excellent use of miniatures. The other special effects are not nearly as good – with the little laser blasters and the missiles looking a bit like children’s toys.
The good news is, most of the people in the film seem to know exactly what type of movie they are in, and sell their performances as such. Goldblum is typically good, if not exceptional. Pullman just cracks me up in this movie, because of course if you President was Bill Pullman, he would fly into the air battle himself. It’s old school, man. But this is pretty much Smith’s movie, and this is one of the films that catapulted him truly into stardom. He has effortless charisma and has one of the few arcs that give you some emotion.
Speaking of the actors, it’s almost as if the filmmakers tried their hardest to appeal to every single demographic that is out there. Literally everyone has a label, and they’re absolutely not afraid of playing their parts to be cliché. We even have a drunken veteran who was abducted by aliens, for goodness sake.
There is one aspect that really holds up – and that’s the scene when the alien uses the scientist as a freaking puppet. The alien itself is kind of a waste (they look kind of like the Predator mixed with Davy Jones from the Pirates franchise), but it’s very unnerving to watch someone be puppeted “release me”.
So if you have the need to turn your brain off for a while, feel free to throw on “WELCOME TO EARF”. I’m giving it a “C”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"