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Independence Day (1996)
Independence Day is a 1996 American disaster science fiction action film about an alien invasion of Earth. The narrative focuses on a disparate group of individuals and families as they converge in the Nevada desert and, along with the rest of the human population, participate in a last-chance counterattack on July 4 – the same date as the Independence Day holiday in the United States. It was directed by German director Roland Emmerich, who co-wrote the script with producer Dean Devlin. While promoting Stargate in Europe, Emmerich came up with the idea for the film when fielding a question about his own belief in the existence of alien life. He and Devlin decided to incorporate a large-scale attack when noticing that aliens in most invasion films travel long distances in outer space only to remain hidden when reaching Earth. Principal photography for the film began in July 1995 in New York City, and the film was officially completed on June 20, 1996. The film was scheduled for release on July 3, 1996, but due to the high level of anticipation for the movie, many theaters began showing it on the evening of July 2, 1996, the same day the film begins.
But watching my home town be blown away is only one of the charms of ID4 (the film's hip moniker). First there's the War of the Worlds meets Star Wars meets The Right Stuff story, about a superior, marauding alien force threatening to annihilate the human race (and almost succeeding). And an all-star cast of freedom fighters (more on them later). Director Roland Emmerich, who redeems himself for the idiocy of Stargate, and who isn't afraid to kill off the good guys. Some dazzling visuals. Loud sound effects. Plus every Star Trek and X-Files fan in town in the audience. What more do you want?
Character-wise, we are peppered with a litany of names and faces, all of whom are surprisingly easy to keep straight, thanks to Emmerich's jumping around in the setting. Will Smith does his Bad Boys '2001' character. Bill Pullman recalls Michael Douglas's American President. Jeff Goldblum: see Jurassic Park. Randy Quaid, Harvey Fierstein, Robert Loggia... we pretty much know what to expect from these folks. And while they may seem a bit hackneyed at times, especially with their cliché-ridden dialogue, there's enough life left over to make everyone interesting. (But why does everyone seem to have a romance sub-plot going on?)
And yes, maybe the plot/theme about how a few Americans banding together can stop a vastly superior invading force, end racial discord, and ensure world peace and harmony is a bit much, but so what? If you can suspend disbelief enough to accept that an alien ship 1/4 the size of the moon is attacking earth, you can accept the Give Peace a Chance bit. Think: the director is a German!
Okay... some of the effects are a bit cheesy, too, which doesn't mix well with the really good ones. (The residue of people laughing at (not with) the final scene on July 2 really hurts the power of the opening scene on July 3 -- New York City in ruins, the Statue of Liberty laying half-submerged on its side.) Just let these crummy effects go. Understand that much better ones are on the way.
Nitpicking? Who, me? Yes, but this time I had a lot of fun on the ride. The whole film is tasty, even the unintentional cheese. Be warned, the movie is 2 hours & 20 minutes long, so pack a picnic basket. But I promise it'll be an excellent trip.
And remember: in space, no one can hear a frying Houstonian scream.
No sketches were available of the destruction of Houston. I had to settle for L.A.
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