Re-Watch: Independence Day (1996)

Independence Day aka ID4
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich
Cast: Will SmithBill PullmanJeff GoldblumMary McDonnellJudd HirschRobert LoggiaRandy QuaidMargaret ColinVivica A. FoxJames RebhornHarvey FiersteinAdam BaldwinBrent SpinerJames Duval
Seen on: 4.8.2016

Satellites pick up a strange signal from outer space and soon huge spaceships arrive and position themselves around the earth in strategic points. Communications expert David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) is convinced that the aliens will attack and tries to get in touch with the President of the USA (Bill Pullman). Since the two of them don’t have the best history, this is easier said than done. When counterforces are finally mobilized – led by people like Airforce Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) – the aliens turn out to be near invincible. What is needed now is creative problem solving and everybody working together.

I was 11 when Independence Day came out and I don’t know how many times I’ve seen the film since, though it had been years that I’d seen it. After the catastrophe of the new film, I decided that a re-watch was in order to wash away the bitter aftertaste. An excellent decision, as ID4 is still an entertaining bit of popcorn cinema, even after all these years.


I can’t deny that my opinion of this film is certainly shaped by nostalgia. I just always loved it. But even without the nostalgia factor, I’m rather confident that I would still like it today. It’s entertaining. It has great characters. The special effects are great and very much stand the test of time. And the ending might be iconic because it is completely stupid, but it’s also a really interesting way to resolve the conflict and, ironically enough, an attempt to prove the superiority of brain over brawn (or maybe the superiority of brain acting in concert with brawn instead of deciding between the two).

Despite the fact that the cast is almost as extensive as in the new version, in this one it works, spending enough time with everyone to build them as persons and to make clear why they’re a part of the story. Funnily enough, I remembered Will Smith as having much more of a part than he actually did have (the bit where he walks through the desert with the alien body is still one of my favorite bits of the entire film).


ID4 has everything you’d expect or want from an action movie of its type. Of course it would have been nice if the script was thought through enough that it couldn’t be picked apart by thinking about it for more than 10 seconds. And it would have been even nicer if there had been even one woman in it who wasn’t just there as a helper in a man’s story.

But if you turn off your brain and relax, ID4 delivers a good-looking, well-paced action spectacle that can be easily re-watched.


Summarizing: So much fun!

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