Anthony's Film Review
Independence Day (1996)
With a great plot, characters, and special effects, it's like Star Wars on Earth...
I have seen films with special effects since I had ever started watching movies. There are, of course, different kinds of special effects. My introduction to special effects involving alien spaceship dogfights and lasers wasn't with the Star Wars films, but with one of the biggest films of 1996: Independence Day. I saw the previews briefly in commercial segments on TV. That and the image of the White House being destroyed certainly provoked my curiosity.
The film takes place over the course of three days, from July 2nd to July 4th. President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman) receives word from the Pentagon about some strange object high above the sky. Meanwhile, cable reception in New York is disrupted, and David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) eventually figures out why. Other characters include the Casse family living in a trailer as well as Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith), his girlfriend Jasmine (Vivica A. Fox), and her son. All of them discover, with their own eyes, the gigantic spaceship that hovers above Los Angeles. Everyone realizes that Earth is facing an alien invasion.
And that night, they strike. Each ship shoots a powerful beam downward onto a structure, often a landmark, and the ring of fire spreads from it and burns everything in its path. The combination of realistic special effects and a mass of extras and actors create much tension as the citizens of Earth run for their lives. The main characters, of course, are the ones who will live through this disaster. There are nevertheless massive casualties.
The next day, Steve and his fellow Air Force comrades have the chance to fight back in an air strike against this mothership. This scene involves another spectacular extravaganza of special effects with our jets versus their highly-advanced aircraft. The pilots learn how threatening these beings really are, not just with powerful weapons but also with energy shields that prevent any bullet or missile from damaging their hulls. To make matters worse, these alien ships swarm the El Toro base and take it out with a relentless attack.
As the story continues, characters come together at the (no longer) secret Area 51, where information about the aliens is revealed. This is also where characters eventually unite as one race fighting back for survival. There is love, plus humor in some scenes to make it less depressing, such as a scene where Steve pilots an alien aircraft but goes the wrong way by accident. The ending does not disappoint. It is a combination of hope for mankind, more eye-popping visuals, and edge-of-your-seat thrills.
I'm detailing most of the plot because Independence Day is a joyride from start to finish. The performances by the entire cast are great. I would rank it near the top with Star Wars as a sci-fi movie that works very well with both the technical aspect and the human aspect. It would certainly be a notable film in a timeline of science-fiction in cinema. Like other special-effects films, there is an extra fascination with the making of it as much as the final product. For whatever reason, this movie is a very good one. It is worth seeing at least once, maybe twice.
For more information about Independence Day, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of Independence Day: Resurgence.