Obviously, Nerd Union wasn’t around when this awesome gem was released back in 1996, but with it being July 4th, this is a great opportunity to go back in time and review a movie that still holds up after all this time.
Independence Day realizes all of your childhood dreams and more when aliens threaten to destroy the Earth. Landmarks decimated? Check. Military valiantly attempts and fails to quell the invasion force? Check. Invaders are repelled through viral contact with human race? Chec…wait, what the heck? Yes, if you’ve read War of the Worlds, you can clearly see the parallels between the two works. It’s not surprising given that it’s a Dean Devlin and Ronald Emmerich flick. But honestly, there hasn’t been a straight-up remake of that film that makes all the things that ID got right.
This film still holds up because of solid performances from Bill Pullman, who plays one of the best movie presidents of all time. If his final speech before the last battle didn’t give you goosebumps the first time you heard them, you’re inhuman!! Will Smith delivers the best one-liners and wise cracks as the Marine pilot who survives the initial attack, a one-on-one encounter with an alien, and ventures into space for the final attack; all the while keeping his wits about him. And finally, who can forget Jeff Goldblum as the computer genius who figures out how to lower the enemy shields. I’ve never seen the script to ID, but I’ve always assumed for Goldblum, it’s very similar to Bill Murray’s lines in Ghostbusters: non-existent. I’m sure he just ad-libbed the entire thing and was told to just play himself with a few technical mumbo jumbo pieces added in. (Not to mention the Jurassic Park crossover quote)
The special effects exceeded the quality of it’s time. There’s a few filming issues that show up worst looking at a Blu-ray version. But most of the CGI holds up very well and I still feel immersed in the explosions and destruction occurring on screen. The above-mentioned landmark destruction’s were one of the best set pieces in this film and helped establish a sense of dread as one by one, cities were destroyed and mankind was unable to effectively mount a defense. You began to wonder how in the world we would figure out a solution.
Enter Russell Casse and Macintosh!! Yes, the ending gets a little hokey if you didn’t grow up with this film, but none of that matters. Russell Casse (Randy Quaid) flies his plane into a blaze of glory (invasion ship’s primary weapon), proving all the alien conspiracy doubters wrong in one swoop. And Goldblum uses Apple power to de-cipher the alien code and deliver a nuke right on their doorstep. Okay, yeah, even I’ll admit it sounds a bit nutty now that I’m typing it out. Had this film had a bit more time to simmer or develop some of the characters better, Casse’s mental problems from being an alien test subject and the intricacies of disabling the alien shield could have explored much more. But for what it was, it accomplished the job.
I’ve said all of that to simply say this films holds up. It’s not the most complex plot, and some of the characters in this film are chronically underdeveloped. But they found a creative way to deliver summer thrills without making you regret your decision of buying the ticket. There’s a few films within even the last 10 years that haven’t been able to make that distinction.
My rating 7 out of 10. Hopefully, the sequel coming out next year will build something unique and creative. But at the very least, keep up with the previous films attention to action and spectacle.