Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

Currently Showing at Cinema Steve

Sunday, July 4, 2010

4th of July fireworks on a planetary scale

Independence Day (1996)
Starring: Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Pullman
Director: Roland Emmerich
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

Monstrous space aliens intent on wiping out the human race launch a different sort of fireworks show for the Fourth of July, leveling Washington D.C. and the rest of the world's great cities. Earth's only hope becomes the surviving wings of the American Air Force, led by former ace pilot President Thomas J. Whitmore (Pullman) and current ace Captain Steve Hiller (Smith). Can they keep a secret desert military base protected long enough for scientists to discover a weakness in the superior technology of the aliens?

Not since the 1950s has anyone made such a grand "aliens destroy the Earth" movie, and I don't think anyone has ever presented quite such an epically heroic vision of the entirity of the American people as we see here. And nowhere but "Stargate: SG-1" will you find bubble-gum sci-fi that consistently shows the U.S. military as the good guys they are.

The formula here is part disaster movie, part action movie, and part sci-fi film. Nothing's terribly original, and the feel really is alot like a 1950s sci-fi film. However, with a special effects extravaganza that I still feel stands unmatched (the fighter-jets vs. aliens and mothership is still more impressive to me than the opening scenes of "Revenge of the Sith", the only bit of film that can compare) and a kind of storyline it would be nice to see in modern movies more often, this is an exciting sci-fi fantasy that provides non-stop entertainment and lifts the spirits.

The writing gets a bit lazy at the climax (well, very lazy actually) and this costs the film a Star on its rating. I still can't feel too outraged at this, because everything up to that point it so much fun. (I won't go into details what this bit of laziness is, because I don't want to spoil the ending... but part of me likes the worst of this misguided ending as I hate it; the dedicated Mac User in me chuckles every time I see it.)

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