Why the Hate: Independence Day
From time to time, there are movies we love and some we despise or have a disliking towards. And then, there are those which can be felt to be mistreated and deserve a second watch. They are not masterpieces by any mean and seem to be beaten around the bush too much. But does it really deserve this type of treatment or should it be given a break from all the critical backlash? That is the purpose of this new blog segment which is give a basic overlook on some movies that have been really beaten to a pulp by its viewers, an honest opinion of it, and the final verdict on does it need to be lifted from the fire it was placed in or just left to rot.
To begin things off, I decided to take another look at “Independence Day last night, seeing it was very close to the national American holiday. That and I was doing my own little marathon of blockbusters that were dumb but I found entertaining. The basic concept was basically there; a bunch of alien invaders come out of nowhere to blow stuff up and a ragtag group of people try to fight back. It’s a basic cliché that has been done before and is not all that new. But with Ronald Emmerich at the directing chair, best known for many disaster movies and “Stargate,” does it really hold up to today’s movies?
Well, its best to start off with the characters, which unfortunate due to their generic and bland features which range from working class tactics to ethics. Jeff Goldblum is the brainy guy that is not a wise man, but knows what is going on because of how tech savvy he is. To put it simple, there is a hint of him reprising his Dr. Malcolm character from Jurassic Park but with a higher IQ. The good news, he’s a likable character that doesn’t hog up the story. The bad news is how odd and over dramatic he can get with explanations of what the aliens are planning to do.
Jeff is not the only one as we have to deal with Bill Pullman as a president that is looking for a landmark event to his claim to boost his polls, but not in a generic slimy way at least. Then, there is Randy Quad as a crop duster that has to deal with the mockery of his “supposed” alien encounter while trying to raise a family, which I feel is better explored in the extended cut on certain DVD releases. To put it simple, while this cast of characters are generic at least each one is given a personality and problem they must overcome. It’s the basic American dream to achieve the impossible and some of them try to.
A better example of a character like this is Captain Steven Hiller, played by non other than Will Smith, who has to deal with the down state of his family (mother is a stripper, go figure) and how the military limits him. Will’s charm and energy is probably the only thing that keep this feature going. Without him, it would have been a basic Marine Corps pilot that wants to have a better position in life and nothing more. His character is more than just comic relief as you cheer on and don’t expect what to come from him.
The first half is basic build up to the alien’s takeover as you are aware of their invasion but don’t know how it will be done. What makes this unique is how it doesn’t reveal the creatures off-hand and instead treated to their massive ships scouting over the world. Your just amazed at the scope and size and don’t know what will come from it. The sequence where the invaders blow up New York and the White House are by far iconic and breathtaking. It’s a grand mix of practicle and CGI effects that is amazing to watch and a breath of fresh air from all the heavy computer effects we have today. I think that is one element that makes ID4 special. The special effects are organic, but yet realistic at the same time. It’s a visual wonder in its own right and keeps you wondering how it was done.
However, its not long till the second half kicks in and mainly focuses on the cast of survivors that try to defeat these advanced creatures. There is where I feel “Independence Day” begins to lag a bit. Its an odd transition from a powerful and explosive first act and dips into a basic point where the human characters either try to find a weakness to the aliens or just go about their flawed ways. In short, all talk and less wonder, but its a tough act to follow. We do get to see the aliens in an Area 51 type of setting, along with some impressive ship designs. But even the space monsters themselves don’t seem that impressive. While original in its own right, there is a feeling of “Alien” or “Predator” being influenced to them. Menacing as they are, they are very fragile on the inside as their development and position as invaders. But as said, they are just basic space invaders that are looking to take over the world. Here, it establishes them are more than invaders, but parasites that wish to suck the resources of the planet dry and move on to the next. Its a concept and thought that is glanced over, but I wish there was more expansion on it. If these are great and powerful beings, then show more of that and less of the exposition talk on it.
On the brighter side, it all builds to a finale that is grand in its own right, but yet somewhat strange. A way to defeat the creatures is found and the President gives a big and patriotic speech about how this battle fell on the 4th of July and the new meaning it has. This is an element that I feel weakens the flow as it applies an American overtone that makes things go from a basic alien movie to a silly alien flick with basic drama tossed in to make is serious. Even the President takes a shot at flying in a jet and fighting off these war hungry fiends. That is a new level of ridiculous material that makes the movie thought up by junkies.
Aside from the good and the bad, most viewers have negativley bopped it for its stupidity and generic tone as well as some unbelievability in the action scenes. To be honest, I don’t see anything wrong with it aside from the old being molded into a new that is familair but original. At times, “Independence Day” does feel unoriginal, but what keeps the entertinament value is the energy and effort that was put into it. While replay value is debatable, the least of what I can say is that is a typical but silly invader movie that goes great with popcorn and pizza. Bottom line, Emmrich did worst but at least this one still stands out from today’s features that rarley tend to have great model effects and Will Smith.