A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 126 – Independence Day

Independence Day – July 4th, 2010

Of course we’re watching this today. How could we not, right? We’ll think of something else next year (we have more than enough movies on our to-buy list to push us back over the 365 mark). Anyhow, let’s have some aliens and explosions and mass destruction today, right? Right!

This is not a complicated movie. Aliens come to Earth to destroy us. They manage to obliterate a whole bunch of cities all over the world first, then move to other locations before a plucky group of humans who survived the first attack work together to destroy the alien mothership. And we meet those plucky humans in a series of scenes at the beginning. We’ve got President Whitman, established as a young and idealistic family man. We’ve got his staff. We’ve got David Levinson, a tech guy at a cable network in New York, established as brilliant but scatterbrained and still fixated on his ex-wife. We’ve got his father, a stereotypical older Jewish man. We’ve got Russell Casse, a crop duster with a drinking problem who claims to have been kidnapped by aliens years ago after being a crack pilot in Vietnam, and we have his family too. And then finally we get Captain Steven Hiller, a military pilot who’s been trying to get into the space program and is home on leave for the holiday. Because it’s July 4th weekend. Of course. While we meet them, the aliens are all getting in position.

It’s actually well put together to establish what’s going on while we meet everyone. Each introduction gives us a little bit more about what’s going on. The president’s staff tells him about where the alien ships are going while David figures out that there’s a countdown embedded in the signal the ships are using to communicate. Steven gets called back to the base while Russell recognizes the ship and starts ranting about how the aliens are coming to kill them all. And soon we’ve got a few of our characters grouped together right as the aliens attack for the first time while the rest are trying desperately to get out of the danger zones.

People die. I mean, this movie’s got some humor to it, mostly in Randy Quaid’s performance as Russell and in some of the dialogue Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum get as Steven and David, respectively. But this is a disaster movie! Cities blow up! We’re being invaded by hostile aliens bent on destroying us! Of course bad shit happens. Part of the whole point of the movie is how people work together in the middle of a disaster with impossible odds. One of the most kick-ass characters in the movie is Steven Hiller’s girlfriend, Jasmine, who commandeers a highway maintenance truck to pick up survivors and make her way to safety. Eventually everyone important ends up at Area 51, because this is a science fiction movie about an alien invasion and how could they not, right? And then there’s the big climactic battle where David, Steven and Russell all get to be heroes and the aliens are defeated using a Mac.

There’s all sorts of relationship stuff going on too. Steven’s thinking about asking Jasmine to marry him, David’s ex-wife is the President’s chief of staff and they’ve got this whole thing. The Casse family is a mess and one of the kids is sick. It’s supposed to make us have sympathy for them and all that crap. And fine, sure, great. Let’s make the characters feel like people and all. It does work fairly well. I mean, if the point (aside from the big booms and action scenes) is to show humanity working together – led by the good ole’ USA with a montage of international stereotypes all thrilled for our leadership of course – then it’s nice to actually care about some specific examples of humanity. Because it’s a hell of a movie to cheer for when humanity fights back.

Now, I’m not saying the plot is hole-less. I’m not saying there aren’t bits that are so wildly ridiculous that it causes me to scream “It’s so implausible!” The computer virus being the most hilarious example. The president taking to the air in a fighter jet for the climax being a very close second. Yeah, let’s face it, there is some silly stuff going on. But it ends up not mattering. Go ahead and mock the parts that deserve it, but enjoy the rest. Have fun with the great special effects and the big explosions and the Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum team and seeing Adam Baldwin looking all young and Brent Spiner looking all disheveled and the whole bombastic nature of it all.

Happy Fourth of July to all celebrating it today. I hope you had a good day and maybe watched some stuff explode (safely) and weren’t attacked by aliens.

July 4, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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