Out of all the films from the Michael Bay/Roland Emmerich library, this is one of the best. The plot to this is actually strikingly simple: aliens are invading Earth, and they are not friendly. People all across the world have to come together, collaborate, and strike back to save our planet. I don’t know about you, and I don’t know how much of this has to do with the fact that I grew up with this movie, but this is everything I look for in a blockbuster. There’s great action, cool explosions, but the entire time, you’re laughing and having a good time with the one-liners. Independence Day does something rare in that it actually takes time to develop characters; I don’t know how much you remember about this because it’s almost 20 years old at this point (crap, I’m getting old), but the first alien attack in this doesn’t come until about the hour mark. The characters are all colorful enough and given enough banter that you don’t mind, and it’s just fun to listen to.
Independence Day is a film that has a lot of personality. In addition to having Jeff Goldblum being Jeff Goldblum, there’s Will Smith in his Fresh Prince of Bel-Air prime, Randy Quaid as a lovable drunk, and Bill Pullman as one of my favorite movie presidents. Seriously, and I’m aware this isn’t exactly highbrow stuff, but when he is giving his motivational speech at the end to rally the troops, it gets a big reaction out of me, and it always makes me want to cheer. Add on some dynamite pacing and you have a great way to spend two and a half hours.
It never bursts at the seams with too many characters, either; it’s almost like it is the Love Actually of disaster movies.
The effects are all cool as well and still hold up. Making it all of the more impressive is the fact that all of the most iconic imagery from this film involving big U.S. locations being destroyed was done almost entirely with miniature effects, which in this day and age is practically unheard of. Now I will say that this does have an imperfection to it in that the final resolution isn’t the smartest in the world; the mere concept of us being able to upload an Apple virus that is compatible to alien technology is a bit on the absurd side, but I don’t have any difficulties blurring my eyes and getting past that. This is just fun in a nutshell, and I highly recommend this.
Independence Day (1996) ****1/2
– Critic for Hire