Roland Emmerich has his hands all over this film–which isn’t a bad thing. Up until July of 1996, the best special effects we’d seen were still from Jurassic Park. But Independence Day came out one year before Titanic, so it held the title that whole time.
And for good reason. It’s so visually stunning that 20 years later, we’re still in awe of what we’re looking at. It sure helps make this film feel less dated.
Less dated. 20 years is long enough that we can say that, right?
Unfortunately, the schmaltzy dialogue doesn’t help its case. It may seem that most of the cast can’t act, but that’s just a result of a marginal script (besides Vivica A. Fox, who, in fact, can’t act).
Taking place around the fourth of July, a worldwide alien invasion is imminent, and the country is in a true panic. Amidst the many eventually-connecting subplots, the film concerns itself most with that of pilot Steve Hiller (Will Smith) and computer-wiz David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum). Both carry the film well and help provide levity to lighten an otherwise dry-by-today’s-standards action movie.
Judd Hirsch plays Goldblum’s father and has some truly brilliant scenes. Harry Connick Jr. and Randy Quaid give us a little something as well.
All of these attributes allow this film to hold up well. And it’s even more impressive despite its several pitfalls. It’s a true product of the ’90s, and even where it seems dated, it’s just enough to make us nostalgic.
Watching ID4 again reminds us how amazing Will Smith’s whole underachiever schtick is, making us want it back again. Hopefully he’ll step away from his Oscar-worthy performances and give us a well-deserved comedy one of these days.