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Independence Day

Human Rating: 2 / 5 Alien Rating: UFO Sighting

I hope they bring back Elvis!

Independence DayAfter all the hype, it's finally here! And the hype paid off well: it's been a while since a movie came along that everybody has seen. Science fiction has been good to 20th Century Fox. Remember the Star Wars movies and the Alien movies? I'm actually surprised that Fox doesn't make more of them...

So did Independence Day live up to its hype? Well, that depends on what you were expecting. If you were expecting the kind of film that is meant to be enjoyed with a large popcorn in one hand and an even larger Coke in the other while putting the brain in neutral, then you no doubt wouldn't be disappointed. There's certainly enough fast-paced action, laughs, special effects, stereotype characters, clichés and a loud enough soundtrack.

Independence DayIf you were expecting something more... Then well, you're most likely to be disappointed. Having seen Stargate (1994) recently for the second time (don't ask why!) it's easy to see that it's made by the same director, namely Roland Emmerich. Independence Day (like Stargate (1994)) is a pastiche of several movies and ideas. Really, for such a high-tech special effects movie, this is really an old-fashioned affair: it's V meets The War of the Worlds (1953). It also borrows liberally from every disaster movie imaginable. It is, after all, a sci-fi plot line that's almost as old as the genre itself - the earth getting invaded by aliens. There's hardly an original bone in this movie's body - even down to the Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)-like attack-on-the-Death Star finale. Still, audiences flocked to see this one.

Independence DayMaybe the attraction (as many commentators have never tired of pointing out) lies in having adversaries that's truly evil (especially in the shortage of bad guys that followed the end of the Cold War) and audiences like things in black and white, but that's probably not it. Independence Day is fun. Like most summer holiday hits pointing out plot holes (why doesn't the aliens simply nuke earth from outer space? Surely if they have the technology to have traveled trillions of light years to get here that would be no problem?) is pointless. Switch your brain down and enjoy it. (And take along a barf bag for those excruciating American patriotic scenes...)

Independence DayStill, leaving the theater I couldn't help wondering whether that big budget couldn't have been plowed into a more worthy project and suddenly I felt like rereading Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End - that sci-fi classic that gave a totally different twist to giant UFOs hovering over the earth. And that was written in the 1950s!

Review by James O'Ehley from The Sci-Fi Movie Page.

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