Las Vegas Film Society

Independence Day

TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX presents a CENTROPOLIS ENTERTAINMENT production a ROLAND EMMERICH film
WILL SMITH BILL PULLMAN JEFF GOLDBLUM "INDEPENDENCE DAY" MARY McDONNELL JUDD HIRSCH MARGARET COLIN
RANDY QUAID ROBERT LOGGIA JAMES REBHORN HARVEY FIERSTEIN costume designer JOSEPH PORRO visual effects VOLKER ENGEL DOUGLAS SMITH
music by DAVID ARNOLD film editor DAVID BRENNER production designers PATRICK TATOPOULOS and OLIVER SCHOLL
director of photography KARL WALTER LINDENLAUB, bvk executive producers ROLAND EMMERICH UTE EMMERICH WILLIAM FAY
written by DEAN DEVLIN and ROLAND EMMERICH produced by DEAN DEVLIN directed by ROLAND EMMERICH

Independence Day. ID4. The biggest movie of 1996. One of the top grossing movies of all time. I suppose I could go on, but I would be misleading you. No, not in the way that you might think, all these statements are indeed true. I would be misleading you by having you start to think that I actually like this film.

The thing is, there is an awful lot to like about this movie. It has the perfect mix of exploding the White House and instilling tear felt patriotism in even the most jaded of us. I just have some MAJOR problems with the plot, the way the movie unfolded, and the fact that the movie spends it's 1st 3/4 building up a sense of dispair, and the last 15 minutes of "undefeatable whoopass" that of course (big surprise) saves the world.

Oh, and it gets worse. But before I get to all that made this movie such a disappointment for me, lemme at least explain the premise in case the 4 people living in the Australian bush that have not seen this movie already happen to come by the site and read this review. ID4 is basically every sci-fi movie you have ever seen, all rolled into one. Space aliens arrive, wait the appropriate amount of time (for character development), then attack with amazing power.

After all the main characters get their taste of some major whoopass by the aliens, all seems lost. But fear not, my fellow Earth travellers, a very corny ending awaits all that may survive long enough to see it.

Ok, now back to why this movie blows. (warning: SPOILERS) 1) At the beginning of the film, when the army helicopters are destroyed, they fall right down, exactly as gravity would have it happen. When the alien "city killers" are destroyed from the inside out, they gingerly float to the ground as if held by some miraculous force. 2) Using only morse code, and presumably not reaching the entire world, the U.S. is able to coordinate a force consisting of only 15% of our total inventory of planes piloted by common enthusiast pilots (and a similar sit rep everywhere else in the world), and beat EVERY SINGLE city killer. 3) When the mother ship is exploded, according to the accounts made by scientists earlier in the film, all the city killers and fighters should have lost power, as the mothership provided the power grid for all the alien craft (and at the very least, the craft bringing in Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum should not have had power after the mothership AND city killers were destroyed, yet they landed safely within' jeep distance of their take off point).

I know these seem like trivial points, but this is supposed to be a GREAT film, and great films have great screenplays, and in great screenplays you don't have such HUGE discrepancies. Not to mention the fact that I am supposed to believe that a race as advanced as the invaders have no knowledge of computer viruses, and no safeguards against such things. If they are as militant and war-like as they are implied to be, certainly they must have thought of something as simple as a virus scanner.

(Editor's Note: In addition to the points brought up by this writer, there is also the fact that an Apple Powerbook has no problem at all networking with an alien computer network wirelessly, something I have yet to see it do with the rather plain terrestrial internet.)

Don't get me wrong, ID4 is an enjoyable movie when taken as a whole, just not one I can recommend on merit alone. While I agree that movies like "Total Recall" (that I love) are not perfect, either, I just have too many problems with this film for me to make it work.

I really wanted to like this movie, I really did. I like many of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich's other films (Stargate and Universal Soldier to name a few), but just like Godzilla, they dropped the ball with this one.

I can say though, that the DVD version of this movie is jam packed with special features, commentaries, and goodies. Just like Godzilla, this DVD is a shining example of a great DVD of a horrible movie. If you simply have to own this movie, the special edition DVD is the only way to go.

ID4 runs 145 minutes and is Rated "PG-13" for warlike violence. There is no nudity in this film.

-The LVFS


Another proud member of the Emperor family.
lvfs@emperor.net