Independence Day may be the typical Roland Emmerich disaster film but Will Smith, Bill Pullman, and Jeff Goldblum lift it up.
“We will not go quietly into the night!” President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) declares. Whitmore’s speech will go down in history as one of the greatest presidential speeches of all time. All across the world, mankind must come together to find for survival. As with any presidential speech, David Arnold’s score gives the film the patriotic score it deserves.
While what is left of the Air Force takes care of business on the ground, America sends two of their own into space to upload a virus. It is up to Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) and tech expert David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) to deliver the prize. Looking back on it, this whole idea is crazy but we’re able to finish the job. There really isn’t much else to it but kicking alien ass.
This is one of those classic films where I don’t need to go into the plot. It’s fun to watch how all the main players eventually come together. Whether it’s David contacting ex-wife and White House Communication Director Constance Spano (Margaret Colin) or Captain Hiller making his way to Area 51, it’s amazing to see everyone converging at the same place. Even Hiller’s girlfriend, Jasmine Dubrow (Vivica A. Fox), manages to come across First Lady Marilyn Whitmore (Mary McDonnell) while looking for survivors on the way out of Los Angeles. How is it that the President of the United States has zero knowledge of Area 51 while serving in office?!? Defense Secretary Albert Nimzicki’s (James Rebhorn) firing isn’t surprising given his behavior.
The visual effects really hold up in the 1996 release. It’s not unlikely for the visual effects to be dated upon watching years later. Thankfully, this isn’t the case. I will say that this is one of those films where you can tell that they are using models rather than CGI technology for the spaceships. It also shows just how far that we’ve progressed in visual effects technology. Using models was more common in the 1990s than it was to build entire scenes digitally on a computer. Can you imagine the shot of the White House if this film took place today?
Take the visual effects out of the equation and there is not much to see here. At least the filmmakers give humanity a fighting chance to survive. On the ground, the survival comes in the unlikeliest hero of them all, Russell Casse (Randy Quaid). He may be the one to save the day but it comes after being somewhat of a joke for much of the film.
Independence Day isn’t perfect but the film is still fun to take in on a hot summer night.
DIRECTOR: Roland Emmerich
SCREENWRITERS: Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich
CAST: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Mary McDonnell, Judd Hirsch, Margaret Colin, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia, James Rebhorn, Harvey Fierstein, Adam Baldwin, Brent Spiner, James Duval, Vivica A. Fox, Lisa Jakub, Ross Bagley, Mae Whitman, Bill Smitrovich, Kiersten Warren, and Harry Connick Jr.