Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Movie Review: "Independence Day" (1996)

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Movie"Independence Day"
Director: Roland Emmerich
Year: 1996
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 25 minutes

Aliens invade Earth and destroy some of the biggest cities around the globe. With all odds against them, the human race must join together on the Fourth of July and fight back against this extraterrestrial scourge.

"Independence Day" is the science fiction action epic directed by Roland Emmerich and perhaps one of the biggest, baddest popcorn flicks ever made. He was fresh off of making the sci-fi adventure film "Stargate," so he was really no stranger to large scale, special effects driven films. Unlike "Stargate," however, which has become a mere footnote in Emmerich's career, "ID4," as it has come to be known in common parlance, made a much bigger impact both socially and monetarily, and it is also slightly better rated, too.

This movie boasts a large, impressive cast of characters played by the likes of Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Randy Quaid (big for the time, we guess?), Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox, James Rebhorn, Mary McDonnell, and Margaret Colin, just to name a few. The plot couldn't be more simple. Aliens come to earth, they blow a bunch of shit up, and the aforementioned actors have to find a way to fight back against their advanced alien technologies. Sure, there is an added human element and a lot of focus on the relationships between the human characters, which is where most the story comes from, but all of this plot only serves to fill the void in between the massive action sequences. Each of these characters are developed enough to where it makes us care about them only slightly. We get a rough sketch of each of their personalities and what their lives are like, as well as their past engagements with other characters within the story.

Speaking of the story, we have to say, it's very flimsy and has plenty of holes which can be easily picked apart if someone wanted to do so, but an enthralling story is not why $817.4 million dollars worth of people watch this type of movie. This is all about epic action scenes, humongous battles with aliens, and motivating speeches given by an inspirational type of hero character on the fourth of July in good ol' 'Murica, and damn it, it's fun as hell. "Independence Day" has these types of plot devices down, and Bill Pullman's rousing "today we celebrate our Independence Day!" speech as President Thomas J. Whitmore is still one of the best speeches in cinematic history. The fact that this line might be ad-libbed makes it all the more incredible. These are the things this film has down to a science. In addition, the special effects are fantastic. Despite going on 20 years old, the effects still look nearly as good as most anything you'd see today. They have held up very well and rarely look cheesy or dated, maybe apart from one or two scenes. The makeup work on the aliens themselves is also well executed. They look amazingly realistic as slimy, practically constructed creatures, something we fear we will not see in the sequel, "Independence Day: Resurgence," which we cannot say we're looking forward to come this June 24th, 2016.

"Independence Day" doesn't masquerade itself as something deeper than it is. It never pretends to be anything other than a mindless, fun, spectacle and action-filled summer popcorn flick that you can kick back and enjoy at at least some level as long as you don't analyze it too much. It's worth it for Pullman's speech and the fantastic visuals alone.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 61%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Jurassic Park III"

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