Independence Day (Review)
While watching Independence Day, someone who’s just began high school physics may stop and say: “to co je.....!”. This is not an “intellectual” disaster movie. In fact, if I had a spare $100 million dollars lying around, Icould have written and produced a similar product. But then again, the reason one watches a movie like this is certainly not to scout for realistic characters and sharply written dialogue. The existence of ID4rides largely on the purpose of all-out explosive entertainment, and in that field, it delivers in large quantities. Aliens have come to Earth in large, disc-shaped spaceships that have distributed themselves over all the major cities in the world. The President (Bill Pullman) advises everyone to remain calm and stay within their homes, praying that the extraterrestrial lifeforms will not become hostile. Of course their intent is hostile. This would not be dubbed a “disaster movie” if the aliens came down to promote peace and love. So, much to the audience’s delight, the visitors put forward a synchronized attack that levels entire cities within a matter of minutes. It’s up to the President and a band of important survivors to find their attackers’ weaknesses and wipe them out before all is lost. Included in this group is an array of stereotypes that you would expect. There is Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith), an navy pilot and family man. Then there’s David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), a nerdy but undeniably bright scientist. Margaret Colin plays a White House staff advisor, Judd Hirsch is David’s Jewish pappy, and Mary McDonnell is the First Lady. These characters’ relationship bonds are merely consequential, as is the situations in which they come together. The special effects in ID4are suitably impressive, however not consistently spectacular. The destruction sequences will have you strapped to your seat. If there is one thing that director Roland Emmerich does truly well, it’s the set-up. Everything is kept in motion, ensuring rising suspense as we await the inevitable. Emmerich uses an effective technique as the visitor’s arrive, in which the ship’s towering shadows overtake the Lincoln Memorial, White House and other various landmarks. In this first half-hour, we are too caught up in anticipation to worry about the numerous technical flaws that surface. And then, sure enough, Emmerich gives in to spectacular explosions and air-borne attacks that will have most audience members gaping in awe.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the second half. There is so much fun to be had in this movie, especially for those who don’t mind the idiotic plot. It turns out that Emmerich has a few nifty surprises up his sleeve (one including a visit to Area 51), and he injects enough gung-ho adventure into the formula to keep us steadily entertained. The appearance of the alien lifeforms is, while rather creepy, somewhat of a disappointment. The script often lets us down. Recycled garble involving protective shields, uploaded viruses and even a “mother ship” appear early and often. As long as you don’t apply too much knowledge while viewing, you’re going to have a blast. The film recalls sci-fi classics from the 50’s and 60’s in a competent, enjoyable fashion. The cast is also solid, even with such familiar roles. Smith and Goldblum fair okay, adding a personal charm to their boring and obvious caricatures. Pullman is perfect as the President, and Robert Loggia adds swift assurance to every scene he is in. Meanwhile, Hirsch is just right, and Randy Quaid is surprisingly strong while attempting to juggle one of the film’s biggest defects. His fate, as you’ll discover early on, is entirely predictable (but still worthwhile after all). Don’t accuse Independence Dayof being moronic. Of course it is. Not only that, it’s obvious, manipulative and downright corny. But if you’re in the mood for some old-fashioned entertainment with new wave special effects, you couldn’t do much better than this exciting film.