Every summer there is at least one “blockbuster” filled with action, special effects, explosions, and the quintessential disaster dialogue while everyone is running and screaming to and from the camera. This film pretty much fits the bill. Roland Emmerich directed Independence Day, who also co-wrote the script with Dean Devlin, and he brought us a typical special effect heavy film designed to entertain audiences. This film was entertaining but it did rely on special effects to awe audiences, which were mostly effective but not overly impressive. Most of the dialogue is trite and designed to stir emotions in the scene and for us (the audience).
The characters appear to be “copies” of other alien invasion disaster films of the 1950’s. We are introduced to Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith), David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch), and President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman). At the beginning, the alien crafts come and hover over various cities all over the world – and wait. What are they waiting for? They are waiting for the exact moment for a coordinated attack, because apparently the aliens use the same time we do. When the time comes, the invasion begins, the main characters, and an assortment of supporting characters, discuss the necessary actions to take against their unwanted guests.
The President, David and his dad Julius, and a few others are taken to Area 51 (the famous secret area where the government is supposedly harboring aliens and alien spacecrafts. This secret lab is run by Dr. Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner), probably the most comical character in the film. Here David gets the idea on how to destroy the alien ships by using one of the ships the government has “captured.”
During the attack, the White House (of course) and the Empire State Building are destroyed. If the aliens can wipe out buildings in a flash, then why don’t they attack everything with their mighty force at once? Well, if they did that there obviously wouldn’t be a movie. It’s kind of like watching a film with a fight scene involving martial arts. The hero will take out several opponents one by one as the others dance around in a threatening manner. The action moves around quickly in Independence Day without giving much time for the characters to fully react to what is going on around them. The Air Force launches their fighter jets for their attack in hopes of destroying the alien visitors, only to be engaged by them in aerial dogfights reminiscent of the old war movies.
Emmerich planned this film around the special effects, while negating other important elements like character development and story. Independence Day is one of those movies designed for summer fun. I suppose it was somewhat entertaining on that level.