Independence Day (1996)
Directed by Roland Emmerich
Written by Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich
Starring: Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman
Panic ensues when a hostile force from space threatens the future of the human race. Despite being outgunned, humans are holding onto hope as they fight for their survival.
In 1996 no summer blockbuster was bigger than Independence Day. The movie grossed more than $800 million after an opening weekend that topped out at more than $50 million. The story was written by Dean Devlin (Stargate) and Roland Emmerich (White House Down). Emmerich would also lead the way as the director of this one. The film features a big cast led by Will Smith (Bad Boys), Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park), and Bill Pullman (While You Were Sleeping).
This story is a wild romp through space that is filled with explosions and excitement as well as a few more emotional moments. The setups happen pretty systematically in the early part of the film, leaving the bulk of time available for a lot of action. The characters are interesting, but also very stereotypical of films like this. While the writing does good work with the action, the rest of the movie is a bit awkward. The nature of the characters make the film incredibly predictable, leaving very little surprise to be had. The dialogue is also a mixed bag of nice lines and speech better suited for a soap opera. Despite the issues with the writing, the story is a fun trip through a series of exciting moments that holds up pretty well.
The acting in this movie mostly solid, but there are some really cheesy performances mixed in. One such performance comes from Bill Pullman. The writing did him few favors in creating a role that goes over the top with rhetoric and pride. His performance unfortunately buys into the writing and really feels awkward. Thankfully Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith do better work with their parts in this one. Goldblum’s approach to his role brings out all the right eccentricities throughout the film. He’s also able to connect well with his co-stars. Will Smith also does decent work in his role. The writing for his part is pretty straightforward, but Smith brings his own brand of acting to the role in a typical “Will Smith” performance. The rest of the cast features good, bad, and mediocre performances from a wide range of better and lesser known actors.
At the time this film was released the visuals were cutting edge. Unfortunately the technology of 1996 has been outdated and aged badly. Luckily the design of the action sequences allows some of the flaws to be ignored as the pace of the film and the tension in the story amplify. There are some practical effects, props, and set design that still hold up much better than the CGI in the film. It should be noted that the visuals were incredible by 1996 standards, earning the film an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. The movie was also nominated for Best Sound. The film also has a fun score, composed by David Arnold (Four Brothers).
This is a fun movie with a number of issues. For fans of the film, this is one worth watching again. Anyone unfamiliar with the film might not be as excited for this one. If you’re a major fan of action films or science-fiction this is one to see. I would also suggest this to Will Smith’s fans. I give this one 2.7 out of 5 stars.