Independence Day


SF elements

alien invasion, plucky human resistance, Roswell


July 2: 15 mile wide alien ships arrive and hover over major cities -- Are they friendly? July 3: aliens destroy said cities -- they're not friendly at all. July 4: humans discover the aliens' weakness and fight back. Lots of good SFX -- especially the exploding skyscrapers -- lots of well-paced action, and a few fairly witty lines, make this an enjoyable way to spend a rainy afternoon. [White House wasted] The pacing is well done, carrying you along with it so that you don't carp about the plot until after the film is over, when the 15 mile wide plot holes become annoying.

The women get okay-ish parts, especially the girlfriend of the Marine pilot, who manages to rescue herself and the First Lady, but they are there just to be 'wife of X', rather than in their own right. Essentially, its just the boys kicking alien butt. But the two kids are refreshingly un-cute, and Jeff Goldblum doesn't overplay his part, unlike in Jurassic Park .

Rating: 3.5

[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | waste of time | unfinishable ]

SF references

I spotted quite a few SF references during the film, which made for some fun:
  1. The Day the Earth Stood Still : playing on the TV in the crop duster's trailer
  2. Terminator 2 : finding the car keys behind the visor (is this really a reference, or do all Americans 'hide' their keys here?)
  3. 2001 : the greeting when David switches on his laptop
  4. The X Files : throw-away line at one point
  5. The War of the Worlds : infecting the aliens with a virus


[alien attack]
An alien mother ship, a quarter the size of the moon, sheds several 15 mile wide saucers, which hover over the world's major cities. David Levinson [Jeff Goldblum] has discovered an alien signal in Earth's satellites, and realises the aliens are using them to co-ordinate their attack. [So why don't they just synchronise their watches??] He calls his ex-wife, conveniently a presidential adviser, and manages to convince the President [Bill Pullman] to evacuate. Just in time -- the aliens launch their attacks, devastating the major cities. Fighter planes have no effect: missiles bounce off the saucer's 'screens', and an immense wave of alien fighters destroys all but one of the earth-planes. The aliens move on to lesser cities, and will have the world devastated "in 36 hours time". [So why did they need to synchronise their initial attack???]

[Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum] The President goes to Roswell, to see the alien fighter craft downed 50 years earlier. He's shown the craft, and three alien bodies, by a mad scientist type [Brent Spiner -- Data from ST:NG] "they don't let us out much, you know". Hiller, the lone surviving Marine fighter pilot [Will Smith], has downed an alien fighter craft, and conveniently brought the unconscious body to Roswell. They learn the aliens are like "locusts": no chance of reasoning with them (which conveniently saves any need for moralising about killing them all). A nuclear attack also fails to dent the aliens shields.

However, Levinson realises that he can infect the aliens with a computer virus. He and Hiller take the Roswell craft to the mothership, and upload the virus (fortunately the aliens are using a compatible OS ). This takes down the saucers' shields, allowing the rest of the fighters to destroy them. Mankind victorious again -- and all in just three days!

reviewed 18 August 1996