Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Independence Day; science-fiction action, USA, 1996; D: Roland Emmerich, S: Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Will Smith, Margaret Colin, Robert Loggia, Mary McDonnell, Randy Quaid, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox, James Rebhorn, Brent Spiner
Just a few days before July 4, the US Independence day, numerous agencies discover that a giant UFO is approaching Earth. Within hours, numerous space ships deploy from it and settle over the largest cities in the world. David Levinson, a satellite technician, discovers a diminishing signal coming from the space ships, concluding it is a countdown until the attack. He warns the US president Thomas Whitmore, who barely manages to escape the blast with his staff just a few minutes before the aliens destroy the White House. Aliens destroy numerous cities around the world, but David and Captain Hiller manage to create a computer virus that crashes the space ships, enabling the human victory.
Filmed with excellent special effects, Roland Emmerich's "Independence Day" became the 2nd highest grossing film of the 90s and caused a massive sensation and hype. Numerous films about alien invasion of Earth were already filmed a long time ago, but until 1996 none so pompous and spectacular as this one. Emmerich approaches the film with a rather conventional manner: it doesn't have the awe and mysticism, the characters are thin whereas the story build-up is exclusively standard. However, this isn't a film with only special effects in it, like numerous big budget extravaganzas after it, but with emotions (short and effective), fine performances by Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, very polished scenes that manage to impress, a few clever ideas that hide the naive happy ending (especially juicy is the disturbing mood before the alien attack, like the alien signal that subtly disturbs the TV transmission; a scene from the film "The Day the Earth Stood Still" is seen on TV), great action (the scene where the space ship's laser destroys the White House is already a classic) and stylistic-visual elegance. "Independence Day" is basically a light action film, yet even today it's difficult not to enjoy in it.