Thursday, 3 November 2016

What Made Independence Day So Special?

Many years from now after INDEPENDENCE DAY (ID4) (click here) opened in theatres on July 4th 1996 in America. Moviegoers were optimistic in seeing a movie about an alien invasion which threatens mankind with extinction and it cannot be denied that this great movie pays tribute to the classic B grade sci-fi alien invasion films. Though cheesy, fun, patriotic and lacking story-wise, ID4 was the definitive blockbuster that changed the benchmark of what makes a summer blockbuster film highly enjoyable. It also relaunched the disaster movie trend which had been dormant since the early 80s, even though TWISTER (click here) did it first in the same year as ID4.

Upon its release, it received much acclaim for its special effects and it made Will Smith a bonafide star, but however, it was criticised for its absurd plot, thin character development, brandished with stereotypes for being generally dense. It also established Roland Emmerich's credibility as a director as he became synonymous with the big-budget disaster movies that gave much influence to films that share the sub-genre like DANTE'S PEAK (click here), VOLCANO, DEEP IMPACT (click here), ARMAGEDDON (click here), SAN ANDREAS (click here), etc.

I have conveniently timed this movie analysis to coincide with the DVD and Blu-ray release of the disappointing sequel INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (click here). Allow me to talk about what made ID4 so beloved and unforgettable with four of its ceremonious aspects/moments.

#4. Presidential Speech

The movie can be a little absurd,
the presidential speech is
motivational and uplifting;
President Whitmore publicly
addresses the nation and explains
they are now facing a common
enemy from annihilation and will
band together in a final desperate
effort to fight for freedom of
mankind. He inspires hope and
faith in his fellow citizens and
says that "we will not go quietly
into the night!" and "we will not
will vanish without a fight!".
Along with the patriotic music in the background and Bill Pullman's performance, this scene of the speech makes you feel that there is hope left in humanity and that as long as people work together, it can make a difference.

#3. Music

I never been an avid listener to
David Arnold's music of the
entire film catalogue except for
this movie in particular. It
definitely matches the patriotic
theme of the movie and it really
intensifies the mood of the scenes.
Music can really compliment a
movie and the way you feel when
watching a scene. I am happy to
say the music in this movie was
perfectly chosen. All scenes feel
right and create feelings and
impact on your mood in ways
which are in line with what is happening with the story and to the characters. #2. Special Effects

As you know about the special effects of the film were an opportunity to breathe life in its spectacle. ID4 did it with scenes that includes the dogfight sequences and the huge mothership destroying the White House. These were the very techniques that were praised for how realistic they looked and amplified the film's impact. Especially the destruction of the White House being the major focus in the film's advertising campaigns on posters and still images and is one of the iconic money-shots that were visually produced. It was one of the few movies to pour a large amount of physical effects with a small dose of CGI.

#1. Will Smith

At last but not least, the top highlight of ID4 was Will Smith's acting. Sure, the film had a top-notch ensemble cast where Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Randy Quaid and Judd Hirsch are the stars of the major league. It is the actor Will Smith who takes a standout role in the movie and without him there would be no MEN IN BLACK, I. ROBOT, ALI, I AM LEGEND or SUICIDE SQUAD bankrolled in his honour. His performance of the character was quite remarkable and sassy for an African-American actor, not to mention he gave us infectious laughs with his snappy one-liners like "Welcome to Earth" after punching the alien in the face and "And what the hell is that smell?!!" which he ad-libbed while suffering from the revolting stench of brine shrimp when this scene was shot in the Lake Salt flats.


ID4 may not have been perfect for a science-fiction blockbuster, some imitators like BATTLEFIELD EARTH and so forth could not compete with the over-the-top style of science-fiction that made the film a guilty pleasure. Either see it in its original theatrical form or the special edition if you want the full or best experience with the film, Like it or not, it proves that ID4 is in some ways better than the less than memorable sequel and this concludes my analysis of the movie that I personally consider one of the favourites.

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