Starring: Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman
Director: Roland Emmerich
Running Time: 144 mins
Independence Day is an American film about the events that unfold when the Earth is faced with alien invasion, but the people of the world stand strong in defiance against the interstellar aggressors.
If you’re looking for a turn-your-brain-off, easy-going and energetic popcorn fest, then Independence Day is exactly what you need. With some very charismatic performances, great special effects and a strong first act, this is definitely an enjoyable blockbuster, but its overlong runtime and poor development leave it to end up as more of a clunky, hulking movie that just doesn’t provide the same entertainment.
Before I get into the negatives, I’ve got to say that I completely understand why this is such a popular film that’s lasted for 20 years. Its jingoistic, patriotic and upbeat atmosphere often works as a call to arms for anyone watching to stand up to oppression, and there were some moments where even I was caught up in all the emotion of the most patriotic sequences.
And, as far as late 90s disaster movies go, this is pretty good. Its second and third acts may suffer from the same problems as the rest of the genre that it actually created, but the first act is full of tension, excitement and a genuine sense of fear as the humans come to terms with the invasion from a fleet of faceless aliens, echoing the best of classic sci-fi like Close Encounters Of The Third Kind and The War Of The Worlds.
Along with the exciting opening act, and the few moments of great pride, one of the other best things about Independence Day is the performances. Bill Pullman brings a lot more humanity to the movie president character, whilst Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum give effortlessly charismatic performances, both making even the duller, more generic moments a lot more entertaining than they otherwise would have been.
If you want to get carried away with all the craziness of the alien invasion and the humans’ will to survive, then I’m sure this can be a fantastically entertaining film. However, back down to Earth, the second and third acts of Independence Day don’t deliver in any way like the beginning.
Losing the menacing, faceless aliens, the film takes a turn for the generic action sci-fi adventure, and loses almost all of the tension and intrigue that was bubbling up nicely as the story was starting off, making the already dauntingly long runtime feel like so much more of a slog, and although there are still a handful of brilliantly entertaining moments, I finished this film feeling as if I’d been bored for so much longer than I was entertained.
Overall, whilst I liked moments of Independence Day, and appreciated its upbeat and patriotic atmosphere, as well as the charismatic lead performances, the majority of the film is far more hulking and dull than the brightest moments, and that makes for a much less entertaining watch than a popcorn blockbuster like this should be, and that’s why it gets a 6.7 from me.