Independence Day: Daft Sci-Fi Gem With Goldblum & Smith

Independence Day
USA! USA!

As big old explosive 1990s blockbusters go, Independence Day remains the most ridiculously spectacular. Fantastic fun and escapism at its best, we have our nostalgia goggles on for this epic and daft old thing.

Independence Day

It’s nearly Independence Day and ‘Murricah is bracing for much revelry. However, at the Moon a massive shadow blitzes over the 1969 landing site—gosh, look at how insignificant we are?

A remote facility intercepts as radio transmission and it soon becomes apparent humanity’s first contact with alien life is upon us.

Military services on Earth monitor the massive spacecraft slowing down on its way to Earth. General William Grey (Robert Loggia) reports the news to President Thomas Whitman (Bill Pullman).

Meanwhile, in New York, MIT expert David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) plays chess with his father Julius (Judd Hirsch).

All hell breaks loose as 15 giant spaceships detach from the mothership and descend into the Earth’s atmosphere, steeling above major cities across the world.

One is New York in (checks notes)… Canada. Sorry, we meant America.

Hyper intelligent, David hears of the arrival of the aliens and is cautious. Using his IT skills, he decodes an alien signal that he believes is the countdown towards a coordinated attack.

Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith), a highly-skilled jet fighter, is called into service as a precaution.

But David is convinced of the impending attack and battles to the White House to speak with his ex-wife, Constance Spano (Margaret Colin), the communications director for the President.

It turns out he and David have a bit of a history, with the latter convinced Spano was having an affair with Mr. President. This resulted in David punching the President in the face (although Whitmore wasn’t in charge at the time).

Mr. President agrees to hear David out all the same and with his science brain he’s able to convince the aliens are here to, you know, kill us all.

The word spreads and a mass evacuation begins, but not in time for the aliens to let rip, demolishing many major cities across the world.

Cue fireballs, excellently documented panic scenes, and much screaming.

In retaliation, the Americans deploy their jet fighter. Dramatic stuff, you get the sense this is really humanity fighting for survival.

Out they all blast. Away go all their missiles… and they’re all blown away as the alien airforce is equipped with protective forcefields.

Captain Hiller is able to escape and bring down one of the baddies.

He punches the alien in the face and quips, “Welcome to Earth.” Followed by, “Now that’s what I call a close encounter.” Nice!

The remaining humans head to Area 51 and Captain Hiller is recovered and forwarded directly there. A standoff ensues, with the remains of humanity hatching a last ditch plan to demolish those pesky aliens.

David proposes they plant a virus on the mothership (in a plot development many nerds have delightedly pointed out makes no sense… it’s a film about aliens invading in massive spacecraft, why focus in on a virus?).

With Captain Hiller, they use one of the alien’s ships at Area 51 to fly up to the mothership, plant the device, blow up the ship, and return to Earth.

And that ensures Jeff Goldblum gets to say “Must go faster” in Independence Day AND Jurassic Park (1993). Fun fact.

That frees up President Whitmore (yes, he decides to take up his former jet pilot days – we’re sure Trump would do the same) and his fellow pilot people to save the day.

Now, we’re not Americans. But in 1996 as stupid kids in Chorley of that there Lancashire of Greater Manchester (sort of) this was bloody epic.

Humans whooping the crap out of alien bastards. We remember being driven into primary school the morning after the film and enthusing wildly about how we destroyed the aliens.

And so the film has a certain nostalgic quality to it for us, but father Wapojif also mightily enjoyed the film.

Even Mark Kermode from the Church of Witterainment loves it!

It’s stupid and preposterous, yes, but as big action blockbusters go this is a total masterpiece of escapism.

From start to finish it’s mightily engaging. The script development is excellent, creating a sense of drama as the aliens invading.

It’s intelligent in its absurdity. And we just bloody love it. Quite why this sort of excellence falls flat on its arse for Hollywood these days we don’t know. Hire better scriptwriters, eh? We’re available!

Production

Roland Emmerich is behind this one and the budget was a surprisingly limited $75 million.

It went on to make $817.4 million, a smash hit. The absolute monster of the year topping out at number one. And rightfully so, we think.

Emmerich’s idea for the film came after Stargate (1994), which failed. He stated publicly he doesn’t believe in aliens, but the idea was intriguing and makes for great entertainment.

A journalist (bastards) asked him about that and Emmerich’s response was to highlight how everyone would feel if they woke up one morning… and an enormous spaceship was there.

Thusly, we have Independence Day. Now, rewatching it as adults rather than overly excited kids, it’s an extremely well put together slice of stupidity.

We can’t argue with certain aspects, but the performances are incredible. And that’s what makes for a great film. Great performances, overall excellence. Hollywood…

Independence Day: Resurgence

The sequel, for whatever reason, arrived 20 years after the first one. On a budget of $165 million it went on to $389.7 million worldwide.

That, a colossal failure in movie terms, was likely due to the negative reviews that swept the board.

The film is no good. The script is terrible, it’s nonsensical and idiotic, and that’s about it. Jeff Goldblum is back and good fun, but Will Smith opted out.

For many, there are serious issues with modern Hollywood. A lazy overreliance on CGI that few care about, alongside tedious scripts and all that.

The relentless superhero films are tedious enough, but what is evident is there has to be a return to innovation and creativity. Disney spewing out endless remakes is no option.

Great films aren’t about special effects. It’s a concerted effort on all sides – get better writers. And, yes, we’re bloody well available.

Legacy

Yeah, the film has a lot of respect. If you were around at the time to see time. If you were a kid at the time, bonus! It was glorious.

Now, well, let’s bury the goddamn sequel and remember the 1996 romp. It’s a fair while back. But who cares? Films this good last forever.

14 comments

  1. I saw ‘Independence Day’ on first release. Visually spectacular, yet supremely silly. Not in the ‘amps to 11’ league of ‘Battleship’ silliness on the silly-o-meter, but still probably cracking about an 8. My favourite bit was how an Earth computer OS made by Mr Jobs (which was ridiculously incompatible at the time with The Other Earth Computer OS made by Mr Gates) was, nonetheless, fully compatible with a totally alien Computer OS nobody had ever seen before.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I was 11 and broke the law to sneak in for the 12 rating with my mate Ben. At the time for me it was the greatest bloody thing ever! We whooped those aliens!!

      But yes, I think as mindless popcorn entertainent this one still does the job well. Even though it’s all preposterous.

      I think we can gloss over the OS plathole, though. Ignore it and it’ll go away.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I just saw this, again a couple of weeks ago. You’re right, the most ridiculously spectacular movie ever. I didn’t want to watch it, but I couldn’t stop.
    CGI is way overused and abused, which is probably why I like old movies, with real stunts and action… or none at all. Or, a new movie with just a really fab script, great acting, editing…etc.
    As for Independence Day Resurgence, they got the title wrong. Independence Day Regurgitation would be more apt.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I revisited it a few years back after ages, expecting it to be rubbish and my previous love for it being that I was 11 in 1996. But it’s just daft and great fun. Top quality popcorn stuff.

      Independence Day Regurgitation… that, madam, is why we get on.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know I must have watched this a half dozen times. I think it’s more of a man film, though I found it fun to watch the first time, maybe the second. I do like scary so my favorite part was the creature escaping the “container” and wreaking havoc on the scientist. Actually, a great film but I’ve had enough.

    Liked by 1 person

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