"Independence Day" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
In terms of major blockbuster disaster movies, I think "Independence Day" does it pretty well. Not only is it fun and enjoyable from beginning to end, but contains badass performances by both Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum in the starring roles. While it is cheesy at times and the story is very simple, I think it makes for a great popcorn flick where you can just turn your mind off and enjoy what is being played out on the screen.
The movie opens with an extraterrestrial mothership breaching Earth's atmosphere, deploying saucers to all the major cities around the world. Hoping to not start global panic, President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman) releases a statement to tell the world not to worry, and the government has it under control. However, it's not until the aliens aboard the mothership send a message to TV technician David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), informing him of an attack on their planet by the alien species. When he is able to get to the President to inform him of this attack, it is too late, as the saucers use laser beams to destroy some of the world's most famous cities.
Now teamed up with U.S. Marine Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith), the President and his team, alongside Levinson, must now figure out who this alien race is and how they will destroy the mothership to protect their planet. They also work with alcoholic crop duster Russell Casse (Randy Quaid), who claims he was abducted by aliens when he was younger.
This is the film that really elevated director Roland Emmerich to stardom status. He delivered a great blockbuster spectacle that has almost everything an audience member would want for this kind of film. There are aliens, huge explosions that destroy cities, badass warrior who want to stop these aliens, hilarious scenes, and so much more. He is able to progress through the plot of the film at breakneck speed, with the film taking place over the course of three days.
There are some scenes throughout this movie that are still iconic today, including the White House being blown by up the saucer. This movie uses mostly miniatures and practical effects to obtain the shots of war and destruction, and I think it works really well. CGI was sort of becoming a thing around this time, but I'm really happy Emmerich decided to use practical effects for the most part. Sure, nowadays, some of the special effects does seem really cheesy, but I'm sure it was wildly impressive for that day and age when the movie released.
Goldblum and Smith don't give fantastic performances, but they're decent enough to succeed in a film like this. They deliver cheesy lines and are the generic hero in a film like this, but they are still la lot of fun and have great scenes together, especially in the conclusion. I also really enjoyed the character of the President, and Pullman really gives a compelling performance as the leader of America.
The film could have possibly benefitted from more alien interaction and coverage throughout the movie. They sort of play by the rule of not showing the main monster that much in the movie, but they do show the species for a considerable amount towards the middle. Emmerich could have made the aliens more three dimensional and given them a much better story for why they came to attack Earth, rather than just a fleeting, one sentence explanation. Besides, the design for the aliens is very well-done, and should have been utilized more throughout the movie.
All in all, I think this is a fun, energetic blockbuster that does everything a blockbuster needs to to work. I had a lot of fun watching this movie, mostly due to the energetic performances from Smith and Goldblum. Emmerich will go on to make some not-so-good films after this one, but at least he has this one great blockbuster under his belt.