Independence Day

500 Days Of Film Reviews

Independence Day Starring Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman

 

When aliens invade earth via a series of brutal and devastating global attacks, it is up to a few brave souls to come up with a plan to defend the world.

 

Can they save the human race before it is too late?

Is It Any Good?

I recently re-watched Roland Emmerich's 1996 film, Independence Day, in preparation for the sequel, which will be screened in cinemas from tomorrow (Thursday 23rd June).  

 

I remembered enjoying this movie and wanted to find out how well it had aged in the 20 years since its initial release.

 

I was pleasantly surprised.

 

There is still so much to enjoy in this film - the story races from one scene to the next and the special effects still stand up (being, as they are, pretty B-movie safe).

 

 

In his review of Independence Day the late, legendary film critic, Roger Ebert, was unimpressed by the film's over-reliance on 1950s flying saucer tropes and stock movie characters:

 

“Like those old B movies, the alien threat is intercut with lots of little stories involving colourful characters, who are chosen for their ethnic, occupational and sexual diversity… There is not a single character in the movie that doesn’t wear an invisible label.” 

 

However, despite fully appreciating Roger Ebert's point, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the performances of Independence Day's ensemble cast. There is still much nostalgia-filled pleasure to be had in watching Will Smith’s Captain Steven Hiller kick some serious alien butt.

 

In addition, who can resist Jeff Goldblum’s portrayal of genius engineer, David Levinson? 

 

I know I can’t.

 

I love all of the moments between him and his father, Julius Levinson (brilliantly played By Judd Hirsch), particularly the scene when the two drive to the White House together.

 

Indeed, it is this mix of peril and humour that makes Independence Day such a fun and entertaining movie. It doesn't take itself too seriously. Yes, there is a genuinely unsettling threat, but we get a good handful of tension-relieving laughs.

 

The fact that Independence Day manages this balance so well, is almost enough to make us forgive its rather excruciating, all-American cheesiness. 

 

 

Of course, as Independence Day moves into its final act, things become increasingly nonsensical and ridiculous. The invasion that, at first, seemed insurmountable is resolved a little too easily and the global devastation and loss is treated with minimal grief. 

 

However, this is the way of the genre – no one expects (or wants) realism here and no one was ever in any real doubt that the humans would win in the end.

 

Even Roger Ebert conceded (at the end of his review) that “Independence Day is in the tradition of silly summer fun and on that level I kind of liked it, as, indeed, I kind of like any movie with the courage to use the line, “It’s the end of the world as we know it.”

 

As we prepare for the second chapter in the story, I wonder if Independence Day: Resurgence will be able to provide 2016 audiences with a similar source of silly summer fun.

 

Random Observations

Have you seen Independence Day? 

 

Do you plan to watch or re-watch this movie ahead of its forthcoming sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence?

 

Whatever the case, let me know by leaving a comment in the box below!

 

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Jane Douglas-Jones
Jane Douglas-Jones

E: jane@500daysoffilm.com


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