Independence Day is one of those movies which I should hate. It is silly, corny, and makes no sense. People love to nitpick it. However it’s been a guilty pleasure of many for years. The movie is just fun with great explosions and quotable lines. So today since it is nearly the 4th, I wanted to talk about five things in this movie I love.
#5.The Cable Guy
Yeah, it never bothered me that Jeff Goldblum was the hero even though he was “just a cable guy”. I mean the movie establishes that he is a genius who could have done amazing things, he just had no motivation. In fact I love the character arc he goes through because he finally gets ambitious. That’s not so far fetched. But here is my question, how come NO ONE ELSE could pick up the alien code that David did? I mean I can buy that he figured out the code, no problem, but NO ONE ELSE did? Even the experts who spent decades analyzing and studying this technology? C’mon! Anyway griping aside this little nitpick never bothered me. And this is one Jeff Goldblum role I kind of liked. Especially that speech comparing the aliens activities to playing chess. Nice moment. Checkmate!!
#4.”Today we celebrate our Indepenence Day!”
Maybe I am alone in this but I loved the speech President Whitmore gives toward the end. Bill Pullman does a great job with it and he really feels presidential in that scene, which is the completion of his character arc. When the film starts we see he is a wimpy commander in chief. By this point he is much stronger. It’s one of my favorite movie speeches ever. Was it stupid he then took off with the pilots? yes, very much so. But the speech still rocks.
Ok, I am going to be honest.At the time I first saw this movie I loved the way Russell redeems himself as a character.We meet him as a drunk redneck pilot who is so messed up his kids take care of themselves and have no respect for him. That is untilÂ he ends up helping with the last strike against the aliens. He sees his as a chance for payback since he was abducted years ago, When he gets his chance, he looks at the picture of his kids and knows what he has to do. He stops being selfish and flies into the beam of energy and blows the aliens ship up. Great moment…until you think about if for a second. How come the plane wasn’t immediately incinerated when it entered the beam? Ah screw it, Randy Quaid plays that moment up for all that he can and just sells it! If you turn your brain off and just enjoy, it’s a fantastic moment. Actually that goes for most of the movie now that I think about it.
I almost feel guilty for this but I swear I am not ripping off The Nostalgia Critic (his review of this movie is one of my favorite reviews of his by the way!). But really, what would this movie have been without Will Smith? The NC was right, he makes everything he says extra cool. My favorite line comes when he and David finally get the alien ship off the ground. The line is “I have got to get me one of these”. Yeah, nothing special but he says it in a way which is funny and memorable. Click here and see what I mean. While you can sure nitpick the fact that he is the only one who survives that aerial assault when the fighters first attack not to mention how he can drive that alien spaceship…he’s still cool! This was at the beginning of his career when people were more familiar with him as a rapper and a TV star. They still were not sure how they felt about him as a movie actor. That went away after this pretty fast. Especially when the awesome Men in Black came out a year later. His role as Steven is great, I love so many of his lines that I could do a whole article listing them. I mean the dude flat out punches the alien when he first see it, how awesome is that??
#1.The first act (and destruction of the cities)
This movie was designed with a three act structue, and for me the first act is far and away the best. Especially watching the buildings go boom. Oh you know this is the real reason we wanted to see this. Everyone was captivated but the trailer that showed the White House being blown up. WHAT?? Well in terms of destroying national landmarks this movie does a great job. Remember, this was before it was so overdone that it’s almost a cliche now. And the whole scene just works as The Empire State Building and the building LA is also annihilated. That whole first act is very well done, there is a real feeling of suspense as the alien ships arrive. We are introduced to all the characters and get to spend enough time with them so we understand who they are. There is even some social commentary in there which I found amusing. It always felt like that after that the creators thought “Holy crap, how the hell are we going to resolve this??? I know we’ll establish out of nowhere we HAPPEN to have one of their ships that somehow works fine and the aliens wont realize it’s years out of date!!!” leading to that idiotic twist with Area 51. Yeah that was a cop out, let’s be honest. You know if that was the intention from the beginning it would have come up in Act 1. Instead we’re supposed to believe the Secretary of Defense decided to not mention it? They try to explain that away in the movie but it just doesn’t wash. To me it always felt like a different movie after the cities are blown away. Ever notice how we never here about New York or LA again? What happened with the cities afterward? The story changes its focus and things begin to get more contrived and even silly. The third act isn’t that bad though the solution seems a little to easy. How in the world did David’s computer interface with the aliens? Well it’s like I said, the movie makes no sense but is a lot of fun if you turn your brain off.
Bottom line, the movie is silly fun. I think even the actors and creators involved knew that so just had fun with the absurdity of it, and maybe that is why people enjoy this film. It didn’t take it itself so seriously. I admit that whenever July 4th roles around, I feel the need to rewatch this again. It is a serious guilty pleasure for me.