Independence Day – A Science Fiction Movie Review

I have never reviewed the movie Independence Day.  It may seem as though I have because I have used the movie setting as the background for four parts of a Trump vs Independence Day post.  In any case it’s time for me to rectify the deficiency.  I’ll start out by declaring that I have a love/hate relationship with the film.  There are numerous strengths and weaknesses to the movie that cry out for mention.  So, let’s do that.

The concept of Earth being invaded by space-aliens intent on exterminating the human race is almost as old as science fiction itself.  H. G. Wells wrote War of the Worlds well over a hundred years ago.  In the era of modern science fiction the concept has been done and redone.  And there have been two film versions of War of the Worlds.  But Independence Day broke new ground in the tradition.  By the 1990s special effects had progressed far enough along so that the images from Independence Day of New York, Washington and Los Angeles being obliterated were groundbreaking in their impact.  Seeing the energy weapon explode the Empire State Building and then unleash a super-heated shock wave throughout Manhattan was at the time remarkable.  Even today, the destruction scenes are visually impressive.  The visual effects for the alien ship are also well done.  The aliens themselves I would say are more of a mixed bag.  They have some interesting features but just didn’t seem all that scary.  All in all, I’d say that the CGI and other technical effects stand up pretty well to present day expectations.

Next up is the cast.  Will Smith, who plays Marine pilot Capt. Steve Hiller, would of course now be considered the biggest name in the cast.  Back then though, Jeff Goldblum coming off his part in Jurassic Park would have been the more prominent star.  He plays David Levinson an electronics genius and ex-husband of President Pullman’s Chief of Staff.  Both of these guys get plenty of screen time.  Bill Pullman plays President Tom Whitmore and has about equal importance with Smith and Goldblum in the story line.  Other memorable parts are portrayed by Randy Quaid as Russell Casse, Robert Loggia as General Grey, Adam Baldwin as Major Mitchell and Judd Hirsch as Julius Levinson, David’s father.  Most of the humor in the movie are provided by Randy Quaid and Judd Hirsch but there is a general humorous atmosphere in the film despite the catastrophic nature of the action.

The plot of the movie has an enormous alien space craft arriving in earth orbit from which smaller city-sized ships fly down and hover over Washington D.C, New York City and Los Angeles in the United States and the other largest cities around the world.  David Levinson figures out that the space craft is preparing to launch a simultaneous attack on all the target cities around the world.  Once the attack destroys these cities the President and his advisors counter-attack with military aircraft but the alien ships have force fields that turn the counter attack into a disaster.  After this the personal stories of the three main characters and their loved ones are skillfully blended with the race to find some way to stop the aliens from systematically wiping out the entire human race.  And of course, the decisive battle occurs on the Fourth of July.

So, what’s the verdict?  As I mentioned at the beginning I have a love/hate relationship with the film.  But on balance I consider the movie a success.  The cast is for the most part likeable.  The plot is undeniably exciting.  And the resolution is almost completely satisfying.  I have some quibbles about messaging by the David Levinson character about the use of nuclear weapons and environmental crap.  And the President gets a little too globalist during the pep speech before the world-wide battle at the end of the movie.  Saying that from now on the Fourth of July would be a world-wide holiday was pretty annoying.  But for the most part it’s a good movie and has lots of great action, heroism and even some excellent comedy.  Highly recommended.

What is The Trumpocalypse Missing?

I have to assume that from now until at least when Mike Pence inherits the presidency in 2025 there will be at least three crises every week in the Trump Administration. I’m not sure if guys like Bannon are under contract to break out into nuttiness or if it’s just the Call of Cthulhu.
And it used to make me fret. But I’ve long since cut the break cables and learned to enjoy the dizzying corkscrew plunge down the Trump Magical Mystery Hairpin Extravaganza. It truly is the “Greatest Show on Earth.” But this is a slow news week (sort of) so I decided to amuse myself by imagining what is crazier than what is actually unfolding in D.C. every day. What’s missing?
Well, the only thing missing is space invaders like the ones in Independence Day. I mean, why not? Sure, Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum won’t help out Trump but he can get Adam Baldwin and then maybe add on Vince Vaughn. And Trump would be a much better President than Bill Pullman. First off, Trump really is President! Secondly, he wouldn’t be all whiney about using nukes. Why, just this week he was bragging that his nuclear button was bigger than North Korea’s button. So nuking aliens, no problemo. And finally, if a captured alien broke loose and killed our scientists Trump would not be trying to placate it into being our friend. He would very wisely tell Adam Baldwin to shoot it full of holes. Then he would send it back to the aliens in a big bottle of formaldehyde as a warning. Now that’s the way the movie should have gone. And another thing, Melania would be a much better First Lady than the one in Independence Day. If Donald tells her to get out of Los Angeles she won’t hang around and get caught up in the firestorm. In fact, she’ll probably be at home taking care of her young child like a good mother should.
Is there any doubt that Mad Dog Mattis would be a better Secretary of Defense than that loser in the movie? So, the biggest problem is Area 51. I’m guessing if there really were a secret alien spacecraft in Nevada then Obama must have handed it over to the Iranians as part of his surrender treaty. So, we’d have to start from scratch on counterattacking with their own spacecraft. Now Data from Star Trek, TNG wouldn’t be a conservative. Possibly we can get Shatner. He’s a Canadian but I think he’ll take any part he gets paid for. So, it actually makes sense to encourage the President to lure space invaders to Earth. Defeating them will encourage a camaraderie among surviving Americans. Also, let’s face it, only the Americans and possibly the Russians have an air force that would actually defeat space aliens. All those other countries would be essentially wiped out. And as sad as this would be, it would definitely have a positive effect on the American economy.
And finally, if New York, Los Angeles and Washington were essentially wiped out, followed by San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia and Baltimore, then after the invasion was over it seems possible that California, New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Maryland might become red states. Now that really would be science fiction (or fantasy).