Wednesday, November 21, 2012
(July 1996, U.S.)
When INDEPENDENCE DAY was originally released in movie theaters sixteen years ago (has it been that long??), it re-booted two genres that hadn't been seen much in the movies in over a decade. The first was the invasion of the planet Earth by hostile aliens. The second was the science fiction action movie with glorious space battles. Is it any wonder that the trailers for the special editions of George Lucas' original STAR WARS trilogy were shown with INDEPENDENCE DAY? Since then, aliens and monster have been endlessly invading and crushing our planet (usually New York City) on screen and there have been three more STAR WARS films. Even the original teaser trailer for this film didn't need to say much to get people excited to see it come July 1996...
July 2 - The day they arrive.
July 3 - The day they attack.
July 4 - The day we fight back.
Simple, to the point and quite gripping for the sci-fi movie lover, right? However, unlike the many alien invasion films from the 1950s you may have seen on Turner Classic Movies, Roland Emmerich's film focuses much less on the science ins-and-outs of who the aliens are and why they do what they do and treats movie fans to more of the action, blood and guts they crave. Will Smith as Captain Steven Hiller is perfect to provide his unique style of humor that only makes the film better. This was the beginning that made Will Smith the action hero of science fiction films he's become ever since (you can look up the films that followed).
Alien invasions can be fun, of course, but the film also does it's best to remind us that the prospect of such an event is quite terrifying. From the moment the alien ships arrive and surround our planet, we know they're very likely NOT friendly. Through the scientific expertease of David Levinson (played by Jeff Goldblum - another science fiction alumni actor!), we watch the countdown commence and finally conclude itself to the big payoff - the attack! And shit, what an attack it is! Our major cities are completely obliterated by laser weapons and balls of inferno that can send chills up and down your spine if you allow yourself the imagination to really take it in.
INDEPENDENCE DAY can clearly be called the Bill Clinton era science fiction film. Actor Bill Pullman as President Thomas J. Whitmore bears a minor resemblence to our former President. And as his character is also a former fighter pilot who actually takes part in the final battle in which the people of Earth will gloriously prevail over the alien attackers, it's no wonder that INDEPENDENCE DAY was such a favorite of Clinton's. Perhaps he played this movie while he was getting one of his infamous Monica Lewinsky blowjobs to enhance the effect. Hey, anything's possible, yes?
Since INDEPENDENCE DAY, I have not enjoyed nor have I bothered to own any other alien or monster invasion film. Really, what's the point? This film captured everything that's so exciting about the genre, that anything that followed, in my opinion, was just recycled copycat material and a genuine waste of my time. So to the two filmmakers who would eventually give us crap like GODZILLA (1998) and 2012 (2010), I say a great big thank you for all of INDENDENCE DAY's destructive pleasures! Though, admitedly, I may never forgive them for shamelessly placing the Empire State Building in the geographically wrong location just to enhance their effects. Anyone who lives in New York City or close enough to it, knows just how bogus that was!
Favorite line or dialogue:
Captain Steven Hiller (being shot at by an alien spaceship): "Oh no, you did NOT shoot that green shit at me!"