Flashback Review: Independence Day

After Stargate came out in 1994 earning mixed reviews and made enough money at the box office, Roland Emmerich developed his next project about a massive alien invasion seeking to destroy human life. It’s up to a fighter pilot, a scientist & The President Of The United States to fight back against the invaders who want their world to be extinct. The premise I’m talking about is none other than one of my favorite films growing up is Independence Day.

Marketing for the film commenced with an advertisement during The Super Bowl XXX led a bunch of people scratching their heads upon watching a trailer showing a spaceship blowing up various landmarks most notably The White House. What’s missing in the trailer is the lack of The Aliens’ onscreen appearance. The sole reason why Roland Emmerich decided to only show spaceships destroying many locations, is because if you want to see what The Aliens look like, you had to see the movie for yourself to get a glimpse of the invaders. J.J. Abrams also used a similar marketing technique to keep The Monster from Cloverfield obscured to viewer only showing a camcorder running away from destruction. Roger Ebert himself claimed that the marketing was “truly brilliant.”

Independence Day was released in 1996. (same year as Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks) It received mixed reviews from critics claiming that the film is a cardboard cutout of stereotypes we’ve all seen in every film. Gene Siskel & Roger Ebert gave the film a thumbs down. Doug Walker/Nostalgia Critic thought it was stupid. Despite mixed reception, the film became the highest grossing film of 1996 almost making a billion dollars at the box office.

Independence Day went on to earn an Oscar nomination for “Best Visual Effects.” The movie alongside Bad Boys also propelled Will Smith’s career as an A-Lister after finishing his show The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air. Over the years, Will dominated the silver screen earning box office gold, star power from notable movies such as “Men In Black,” “I Robot,” “Hitch,” “I Am Legend” etc. he earned himself the nickname “Mr. July.”

Two Decades Later, a sequel called “Independence Day: Resurgence” came out after twenty years of many delays. Unfortunately, the film was a critical disappointment and it didn’t recapture the same magic as the original once had. Roland Emmerich confirmed that a third entry is in the works.

Today’s review doesn’t feature any massive SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen the movie, feel free to read this non-spoiler article.

Positive & Negative Elements

Positive: The Main Cast featuring Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Randy Quaid, Judd Hirch, Robert Loggia, Harvey Fierstein, Brent Spiner & Harry Connick Jr. all did an incredible for their respective performances.

Will Smith’s performance as Captain Steve Hiller earned praise from critics and fans as a movie star.

To prepare for his role as Captain Steve Hiller, Will took inspiration from Harrison Ford’s iconic role as Han Solo who’s also a skilled pilot with snarky one liners.

Fun Fact: Before Will Smith signed on, Keanu Reeves, Johnny Depp, Eddie Murphy & Tom Cruise were considered for the role of Captain Steve Hiller, but all of them weren’t available due to their busy schedules.

Action Sequences contains a truckload of destruction, aerial combat & landmarks blown up by The Aliens similar to a nuclear bomb. Star Fox 64 from the Nintendo 64 recreated The Final Battle in a level called “Katina” with Star Fox & his team trying to take out a spaceship similar to the one that The Military were trying to fight back.

Will Smith defeated an alien in one punch. He was the original One Punch Man before the actual titular character of the anime/manga series. I’m giving him an Extra Point for his one liner after punching an alien.

Jeff Goldblum’s character David Levinson shouted “Faster must go faster!” A reference to his line from Jurassic Park when his character Dr. Ian Malcolm and his allies are being chased by a T-Rex.

Bill Pullman’s character President Whitmore delivered one of the best inspirational speeches in cinematic history about working together and not giving up as we celebrate one of America’s holidays. I’m giving this scene Bonus Points for making me feel proud as an American. It’s an iconic speech next to Aragorn’s speech from The Return Of The King and William Wallace’s speech from Braveheart.

Roland Emmerich did an awesome job writing and directing the film.

Roland’s longtime business partner, Dean Devlin produced the film and also co-wrote the script.

Special Effects were impressive for its use of Practical Effects combined with C.G.I. Scale Models were constructed to build The Aliens’ starfighters, spaceships the size of a an entire city & The Mothership.

Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey appears in David’s laptop.

The script contains unforgettable dialogue including, “I could’ve gone to a barbecue!” “Eh forget my lawyer!” “Welcome to Earth!” “Now that’s what I call a close encounter!” “I gotta get me one of these!” “Elvis has left the building!” “Hello boys I’m back!”

Besides countless deaths, two Death Scenes factor in. I don’t wanna reveal who these two characters are.

Cinematography contains epic wide scope shots establishing alien spaceships, destruction of landmarks and all kinds of cool lookin’ imagery.

One scene pays tribute to Daffy Duck’s alter ego, Duck Dodgers. Not the former Cartoon Network series, the original 1953 short.

Each act is presented in a single day. Act I commences in July 2nd, Act II begins in July 3rd & Act III finally starts in July 4th. This is an easy example on how to make a Three Act Structure.

David Arnold composed the soundtrack. The “End Titles” track reminded me of John Williams’ Superman theme. If the DC Extended Universe (DCEU for short) is working on a stand alone sequel to Man Of Steel, I want David Arnold to orchestrate the music. Every time I hear Independence Day’s “End Titles,” It makes me want to grab a cape and fly around the globe or solar system like Superman.

Marketing for the film kept The Aliens’ appearance a secret. Advertising heavily involved The White House and other locations being blown to pieces. If you wanted to know what the creatures looked like, you had to see the film for yourself. I’m giving the Roland Emmerich an Extra Point for keeping The Aliens under wraps. 

Unlike Steven Spielberg’s 2005 remake of War Of The Worlds, nobody was incredibly annoying throughout the whole movie or undergoing from Capshaw’s Disease. (CD for short) Capshaw’s Disease is a term I’ve coined, it means someone who complains, moans, gripes, doesn’t contribute to the story, never capable in a fight and screams at the top of his or her lungs. CD comes from Kate Capshaw’s performance as Willie from Indians Jones & The Temple Of Doom.

Negative: The Twin Towers are shown when one of the spaceships shows up. It’s very uncomfortable to watch when the spaceship destroyed almost the entire city. Five Years Later, we all know what happened and it scarred us forever. After 9/11, we want our main leads to survive the destruction much like the real survivors that endured all the chaos they went through.

Product Placement featuring brands such as Coca-Cola, Doritos & Apple. I’ll give this flaw a pass, because I couldn’t find any other brand to spot.

The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!

Independence Day remains as one of my favorite movies of all time. An instant classic among the sci-fi genre for its use of spectacular special effects, ensemble cast, wide scale imagery, David Arnold’s musical score, memorable dialogue & Roland Emmerich direction. If I were you I strongly recommend this movie.

I don’t understand why critics like the late Siskel & Ebert disliked this movie, I thought it was a game changer similar to Jurassic Park. I would consider Independence Day as 1996’s Star Wars in terms of all the positive elements I’ve listed as redeemable. As a kid I loved this movie, now that I’m older and as a critic myself, I still enjoyed it to this day.

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