Independence Day

When I was 11 years old, I remember a great anticipation for the film Independence Day, which came out on July 4, 1996. (Some theaters released the film two days earlier on July 2, the same date at which the action in the film takes place). I remember going to the theater to see it with my Mom on the 4th, which everyone else thought would be a good idea too.

At the time I loved the movie - it was like a new Star Wars to me, and it was a colossal summer blockbuster, making $300,000,000 in the U.S. alone (Box Office Mojo). Even at my young age, however, I remember criticizing it - saying it reminded me too much of V. If you're not familiar with V, then check out this link.

At the time of its release, several critics ridiculed the film for its unoriginality - but as a kid who was only concerned with special effects and action sequences, I thought it was one of the best movies ever. Now, as a older, wiser 21-year-old with a deep passion and appreciation for good cinema, I've recognized that Independence Day is, for lack of a more descriptive term, terrible.

There isn't a single original thought in that film - and while I know Ronald Emmerich (Director) and Dean Devlin (Writer) are both notoriously huge Star Wars and science fiction fans, and they're partially trying to pay homage to those films, it comes off as uninspired garbage. Keep in mind, this team was also responsible for Godzilla.

The storyline is amazingly predictable, the acting flat and unaffecting - and overall, just uninteresting. Given some more thought and care, it could have been a much better film - instead of a complete rip-off of War of the Worlds, substituting the Earth's own viruses and natural immunities for a new-age computer virus. It's funny now though, how younger audiences not aware of the H.G. Wells novel (which dates back to the 1800s) think that War of the Worlds is a "bad remake" of Independence Day.

It ripped off War of the Worlds so much, that Steven Spielberg, who originally planned to do a film adaptation of the book (and the original film) around that time in 1996, had to postpone it because ID4 relied so heavily on the same plot elements.

The only part of the film that is still slightly interesting is the inclusion of Area 51 - which has always been a controversial topic, and still is. A while back I watched Independence Day with friends, not because I really wanted to see it - but more because I was there and that's how the situation played out - it was then that I finally hung my coat and hat on the knob and said goodbye to ID4.

It hurts me slightly, because I know Dean Devlin saw Star Wars at Mann's Chinese Theater on opening day in 1977 - and it was a moment that changed his life and made him want to make movies, but it's just sad that ID4 was the best he could come up with - a less enjoyable, less mythic action/adventure that's better as a silly, unrealistic comedy than a science fiction film.
Reviewed by: adam
2 Comment(s)
Jean said...
The V analogy is right on! I never thought of it that way but that is so true. The only distinguishing factor (beside the gargantuan budget) is Will Smith's ability to make anything look cool.
Shea said...
I loved this when it came out. Now I am was a movie of its time.