Monday, June 25, 2012

#679. Independence Day (1996)

Directed By: Roland Emmerich

Starring: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum

Tag line: "The question of whether or not we are alone in the universe has been answered"

Trivia: Over 70 mock news broadcasts were created for this film

Some critics weren't kind to the 1996 sci-fi blockbuster Independence Day, calling it, among other things, syrupy, loud, dumb, clunky, and disappointing. I can't really argue with their observations (especially “loud”), yet would also add “fun” to the list. I realize this movie has moments that are as cheesy and cornball as they come, but I gotta tell you, I have a great time whenever I watch it!

As the July 4th weekend is about to begin, mankind is suddenly and unexpectedly visited by beings from another world, who have positioned their enormous spaceships over the planet’s largest cities, disrupting satellite communications on a global scale. David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), a technician for a New York-based cable network, figures out that this satellite interruption is the result of an encoded signal being passed between the visiting spaceships, one which serves as a countdown to an attack! 

David tries to inform his ex-wife, Constance (Margaret Colin), who is the Press Secretary for American President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman), about the impending disaster, but his warnings arrive too late. After a devastating first attack in which New York, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. are completely destroyed, the U.S. responds by sending a squad of highly-trained Marine pilots, commanded by Captain Steve Hiller (Wil Smith), against the invading extraterrestrials. When their technology proves too powerful for the military to overcome, President Whitmore is left with a limited number of options, and all hope for mankind's survival seems to be fading. 

But humanity isn’t beaten yet, and may have a trick or two left up its sleeve to give the alien invaders a run for their money!

Independence Day has a few things going for it, not the least of which is Wil Smith, who, despite having only appeared in a handful of movies to this point, shows real confidence as Hiller, the hot-shot fighter pilot, and it was this film that established Smith as a bankable box-office star (a year later, he'd set the cinematic world ablaze once again with his turn in Men in Black). 

While some scoffed at the notion that Jeff Goldblum’s character, David, who is essentially a repair man, would be the first earthling to crack the alien code, I thought this little story twist was kinda cool, and Goldblum's performance is the reason why, Goldblum has always been an actor who commands your attention, and did a fine job portraying yet another of Independence Day's unlikely heroes. 

As for the special effects, they're top-notch; the scene where the ships first break through earth's atmosphere, which we see happen over several major cities, is awe-inspiring, and the initial air battle between the aliens and the U.S. military is as thrilling as it gets.  In addition, Independence Day features a number of fun cameos, my favorite being Brent Spiner (aka Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation) as a goofy scientist who meets a rather unfortunate end. 

And if I'm being honest... well... I always get a bit choked up when the world joins forces to combat the alien threat! Yeah, I know it's pure hokum, but, for me, it worked. And since I'm laying it out there, I love the scene in which Pullman's President Whitmore delivers his inspirational speech just before the big battle, telling a rag-tag team of hastily-assembled pilots that humanity “will not go quietly into the night”.

Schmaltzy? Sure. 

Effective? Hell, yeah!

1 comment:

Barl3y said...

Agree with you wholeheartedly. A movie with all the bells and whistles. My cousin and I went to w tach this in the cinema and we sat quietly and stared at the screen, 'which is very rare'.
We were both engrossed in the movie and despite some of the extremely cheesy moments there were some fantastic set pieces....

I hear they have a story for a sequel, I wonder?