Blockbusted Blogathon: Independence Day (1996)

independence_day_ver3When I first read that Katy of the amazing Girl Meets Cinema was planning a blogathon for B-movies I was pretty puzzled about which film I would pick. I generally don’t gravitate towards your typical big budget Hollywood films outside of awards season. In Katy’s introductory post for the Blockbusted Blogathon, she mentioned Independence Day (1996, dir. Roland Emmerich) as a good example of a B-movie of the alien invasion genre, and I was overcome by memories – for some reason, I loved this film as a kid, even though it gave me some crazy nightmares about aliens and worldwide destruction. I decided to revisit the film for this blogathon and I’m quite glad I did!

The rules of the Blockbusted Blogathon:

1. Choose a super cheesy blockbuster B-rated movie(s).
2. In your post, include a picture(s) of your selection (etc) and reasons why you love that particular movie.
3. RememberΒ this blogathon is not about “bad movies”; it’s about our unbreakable bond towards a cheesy blockbuster-esque movie with a setting, story, or character that introduces or deals with something not from this ordinary realm.

Without further ado, here are a couple of reasons why I still find some value in Independence Day, all these years later.

1) Interesting Story Structure
The film is constructed in terms of three days – July 2, July 3, and July 4 (also known as Independence Day, believe it or not). The film is told from the point of view of many different characters as their separate stories eventually meet in the Nevada desert: the president of the USA (Bill Pullman); the smart guy (Jeff Goldblum); the drunk pilot with a traumatic past (Randy Quaid); the charismatic fighter pilot (Will Smith); and the fighter pilot’s exotic dancer wife (Vivica A. Fox). Although there were some characters that I wanted to see more than others, I tend to really enjoy films that are told through this structure – characters with their own points of view coming together to share a story by the end of a film.

independencedaywillsmithcigar

2) Familiar Actors
Independence Day
plays host to a number of actors, beyond the main players, who have very familiar faces nowadays. A random military guy who is the commanding officer of Area 51 is Jayne Cobb from Firefly (Adam Baldwin). The president’s tiny daughter is Ann Veal from Arrested Development (Mae Whitman). Who? Also, the First Lady of the United States (aka the FLOTUS) is Madam President Laura Roslin from Battlestar Galactica (Mary McDonnell). It’s little things like this that add an extra layer of entertainment value; at least, that’s how it works for me.

3) Iconic Moments
When watching Independence Day, I also recognised a couple of iconic moments that have stuck in my mind as being referenced quite a bit in television and film. Firstly, during the first half, the film cuts between scenes with a loud booming noise and a white flash that transitions one scene to another. I had completely forgotten that it did this, but it only happened in the first half where the characters hadn’t yet met up with one another. I’ve seen this referenced in either The Simpsons and/or Family Guy, and maybe something else as well. Then we have the iconic moments to do with the alien craft – firstly, the image of Washington DC being overtaken by shadow, as we don’t see the actual craft, but just its approximate size as it blocks out the city. Lastly, who could forget the laserbeams the alien craft shoots down to pinpoint an important building and city to annihilate. I think the moments with these laserbeams are the ones which people will recall the most vividly when thinking about this film. I definitely remember having nightmares about the laserbeams as a kid.

ID4screencaps-010

4) Some Impressive Visual Elements
Some visual elements of the film can be quite beautiful and eerie, provided that the CGI elements of the scene aren’t moving quickly. When the CGI elements are stationary or moving slowly, they look so creepy yet stunning – the image of the clouds burning over NYC as the alien craft enters Earth’s atmosphere comes to mind, or any time when the alien craft is hovering over a city. However, when things start exploding and airplanes start flying everywhere, the visuals can look fairly 80s-standard. One of my most favourite visual elements of the film, however, is its use of shadow. This is one of its iconic moments (discussed above), and the encroachment of the shadow on the city landscape is done very well and builds up a lot of good suspense and tension.

5) 90s Nostalgia
The old 90s computer technology is hilarious when contrasted with the high tech of the aliens. Seeing the super old school Mac operating system perhaps having an influence on a huge alien mothership is super weird and funny. Maybe I have a strange sense of humour though. There’s some great 90s fashion worn by Jeff Goldblum, who gets about in a checkered shirt over a t-shirt with a jumper tied around his waist. He also occasionally wears a shell necklace.

independence-day4

6) Miscellaneous Appreciations
The score by David Arnold is quite good. And although the film is long and takes a while to get to the big space action, once it gets there, it’s built enough momentum to be nicely thrilling. Ultimately, it might be just another big budget Hollywood B-movie, but it actually is a lot of fun.

*****

I’m always really interested to see what happens when people revisit films they loved in their childhood. For me, when revisiting both this and the first two Sister Act films, I haven’t been too disappointed. My childhood memories haven’t let me down yet!

If you want to take part in the Blockbusted Blogathon, the deadline is the 24th May – plenty of time to explore a B-movie classic!

Watch this film at Amazon!

40 comments

  1. i always wonder the same thing abt movies i loved as a kid. back in January, I did a series devoted to that called childhood flashback challenge. here’s the link http://movierob.wordpress.com/category/childhood-flashback-challenge/

    1. That’s such an amazing idea and I can’t believe I missed out on participating! Shame on me. There are some excellent choices in that series!

      1. No worries. Feel free to send me one if you want and I’ll still post it if you want

        1. That’s amazing, thank you! πŸ™‚ I think I absolutely will. I was thinking about rewatching Mrs Doubtfire the other day so it might be on that classic!

  2. theipc · · Reply

    This movie is something else – that’s for sure πŸ™‚

    1. Definitely! πŸ™‚

  3. Great pick Anna! This is one of my must-watch movies for the summer; it’s a fun action alien film, with as you said, great 90s nostalgia. I love that a Mac web program can take down a mothership, and who can forget that Independence Day speech by BIll Pullman. Thank you for participating!

    1. Thanks Katy! πŸ™‚ Thank you for hosting such a great blogathon! Have been loving everyone else’s choices! As a Mac devotee I was pretty happy to see one destroy a huge alien mothership too. Is there anything they can’t do?

  4. Her indeed haha. Nice choice and nice arguments.

    1. Thanks Alex! πŸ™‚ Haha, I love anything to do with Ann Veal! My favourite line in that video is “I just don’t want you spending all your money getting her all glittered up for Easter”. So funny.

  5. ha! I actually like this film quite a bit as well. Not really sure why! (I don’t think I paid enough attention to notice most of what you mentioned here).

    1. I reckon it has a lot of appeal as a cheesy 90s classic! Lots of good one-liners, and Will Smith’s nice arms.

  6. Popcorn Nights · · Reply

    Awesome! I watched this at the cinema and enjoyed it at the time although don’t remember too much about it now. Obviously there’s the lasers coming down as you mention. I also remember Will Smith punching an alien in the face at one point, which was quite funny but completely cheesy.

    1. Independence Day is totally awesome. I can’t believe I forgot to write about Will Smith punching the alien in the face! That was amazing.

  7. I bought this movie out of the $5 bin a few years back and still sits there wrapped in it’s plastic because I have yet to get around to watching it. Maybe I should this 4th of July.

    1. It’s probably one of the best films to watch on Independence Day! πŸ™‚

  8. Great choice, the 90s nostalgia in this movie is fierce. I remember when I saw this in theaters.

    1. Thanks! πŸ™‚ For sure, the 90s nostalgia is at full capacity, which I love!

  9. This movie is so iconic for me, I’m glad it took years for them to finally decide to make the sequels. (But is it really happening this time???)

    1. They’re making sequels?!? I can’t believe I didn’t know! That’s insane – looks like one is slated for 2015 release!

  10. I’d have picked this movie too if I had time to participate in this. ID4 is such a fun disaster flick!

    1. Totally agreed, it has a good balance between fun, cheese, drama and alien destruction!

  11. Great review Anna! I used to love this movie back in the day I think I went to the theater when it came out I was so excited what a nerd. Didn’t you know that Apple computers can save the world and kill aliens?

    1. Thanks lady! πŸ™‚ Not too surprised that an old school Mac could defeat a huge alien mothership, they were sturdy as bricks. Not sure if the newest ones could handle that kind of badassery!

      1. Oh no not those new light Mac Airs… no way! At the time those old ones were so cool!

  12. […] Blockbusted Blogathon: Independence Day (1996) […]

    1. Thanks for the reblog! πŸ™‚

  13. Masterpiece! Will never get tired of watching this film.

    1. Totally agree! It’s one of those films that’s stuck in the public consciousness now. I caught my partner’s uncle quoting Bill Pullman’s big speech the other day and was like “Isn’t that from Independence Day?”.

  14. Truly a great film, and by far the best thing Roland Emmerich will ever do. I’m glad you chose to re-explore this film Anna. I personally can’t get enough of it. The movie is certainly dated, but Emmerich used all of his signature blockbuster trademarks to really make an impact here. Great stuff.

    1. Thanks Tom! πŸ™‚ It does seem like Emmerich’s recent films just don’t live up to this one. He’s associated with the 2016 sequel though, so it’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with!

  15. Hahahaha, the last still made me wonder if it was Photoshop when I first saw it! I’ve never seen Independence Day, but I kind of want to after the points you make — your persuasion skills are impressive, Anna! Great to hear your kid self had good taste. πŸ˜‰

    1. Thanks Elina! πŸ™‚ Sometimes I think child-me had better film taste than adult-me. You should def see Independence Day! Aside from all these points, it’s also super cheesy and funny at times. I forgot about how cool it was!

  16. […] both of which were super fun. Firstly, the Blockbusted Blogathon, where I revisited the 90s classic Independence Day (1996), and secondly, the Favourite Movie Titles blogathon. Here‘s my list, and here‘s […]

  17. Ahhhh awesome choice! I have a serious soft spot for this one for all of your reasons. Cheesy, yes, but I actually think it has held up pretty well over the years. Of course, with Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum as the leads, that’s not surprise. πŸ˜‰ Tooootally forgot Jayne was in this! Ha! I just got into Firefly a couple years ago, so now when he pops up in movies or TV shows it is so weird to me!

    1. It’s funny when watching classic films from the 90s because actors you didn’t really recognise back then seem to stick out like a sore thumb! Plus Jeff Goldblum is always a winner.

      1. Oh totally. Goldblum wins all. I still can’t believe the man is in his 60s now. When the heck did that happen?!

        1. Jeff Goldblum is in his 60s?! No way. He’ll always be Jurassic Park-age in my mind!

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