Friday, June 24, 2016

Movie Review: Independence Day (1996)

Independence Day (1996) co-written and directed by Roland Emmerich

This summer has lots of sequels and remakes coming out, so I'm reviewing the earlier works and seeing if they will inspire me to see the new films!

Only July 2, a mysterious object shows up near the moon. It broadcasts a signal that's picked up on Earth. No one can understand it--not scientists at S.E.T.I. (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) or the Pentagon. Soon enough, the object releases over a dozen 15-mile wide saucers that fly over various capitals (London, Paris, Moscow, Washington D.C., etc) and important cities (like Hollywood, I mean, Los Angeles). One down-on-his-ambition scientist (Jeff Goldblum) figures out the signal is really a countdown, so he rushes to the White House where his ex-wife is serving as Press Secretary. He just barely convinces the president (Bill Pullman) to flee before the attack happens. All the alien ships attack at once, wiping out cities across the world in spectacular displays of fire and destruction. Fighter pilot Steve Hiller (Will Smith) leads his squadron against the Los Angeles ship where they utterly fail. He is able to knock down one alien fighter ship and takes the alien pilot captive. The Americans regroup at Area 51 (the US Government has been hiding an alien space ship there for decades) where they plot to defeat the alien menace.

The movie is a pastiche of other science fiction films, borrowing from War of the Worlds, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Alien, and the television mini-series V. I had the problem (which I had twenty years ago when I saw it in the theater) of being reminded of all these other better films. The eventual solution is almost completely implausible and an awkward blending of War of the Worlds and Star Wars. Even so, the movie is enjoyable as an action romp if you set your brain in neutral and enjoy the ride.

The sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, looks like more of the same from the trailer:

Unless I hear some stellar reviews or friends invite me to see it, I'll probably wait for the DVD release.

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