Independence Day: 7 thoughts I had after watching the 1996 film again
I watched independence day so many times over the years I’ve lost count. Since July 1996, I’ve consumed Roland Emmerich’s iconic disaster action thriller in just about every way imaginable, including on the big screen with my dad and brother, when it’s aired on TV or watching independence day streaming on various digital platforms. All that to say I can’t get enough of this movie and it’s something I think about way more than I should.
So, as the 4th of July holidays approach (which I will spend camping and without access to the film), I have decided to hold my annual one-man Independence Day viewing party a few days earlier than usual. In doing so, I’ve collected seven thoughts to flesh out (along with a handful of other points) for those who also have an unhealthy obsession with the 1996 box office champion.
Can we talk about how good Will Smith is in this movie?
Will Smith was at the top of his game in the second half of the 1990s. He was already known thanks to The prince of Bel-Air and his hip-hop career when he was cast alongside Martin Lawrence in Michael Bay’s 1995 action comedy Bad Boysbut it was his interpretation of Steven Hiller in independence day which took Smith from a rising star to one of the biggest names in show business.
The thought of anyone other than Smith playing Hiller in independence day never even crossed my mind. There was no other actor at the time who had more style and screen command than the ‘Fresh Prince’, and having him front and center makes the film go from being awesome to an all-time classic.
I’ll Never Be Down With Jeff Goldblum In Action Movies
The 1990s also brought in one of the most unlikely men: Jeff Goldblum. Of course, Goldblum was already an established star with 80s hits like The big thrill and Flybut this eccentric and mysterious actor defied action movie logic with memorable roles in jurassic park (and its sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park) and the 1996 sci-fi popcorn movie independence day.
Steven Spielberg and Roland Emmerich’s decision to cast Goldblum as Ian Malcolm and David Levinson, respectively, made the two films more unique and gave the smart, not-so-muscular guys a hero to cheer on. In the years that followed, Goldblum enjoyed success in several of Wes Anderson’s best films (and Thor: Ragnarok), but he’ll always be that unlikely ’90s action star.
The alien attack on the White House is still one of my all-time favorite scenes.
Every time I flip through the channels and come across independence day I will stop what I am doing if the film is close to the scene where the White House is destroyed. No, I’m not an anarchist or anything, this scene is just really cool. It was cool when I first saw it in the trailer back then, it was cool in the theater, and it’s still 2022.
And even though I know all the main characters in and around Washington survived the destruction of the nation’s capital, I still can’t help but get nervous every time the alien spaceship opens its laser beam above of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and covers it with this strange bluish-green light.
The Area 51 Reveal Is As Cool Today As It Was In 1996
Mid Road independence day, what remains of the United States government is looking for a place to land when the top secret Area 51 is brought up. Even though President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) scoffs at the idea and says it doesn’t exist, Secretary of Defense Albert Nimzicki (James Rebhorn) breaks the news to him before saying he doesn’t. couldn’t tell the Commander-in-Chief. due to “plausible deniability”.
When we land at Area 51, it’s everything you’d expect and more. Quirky scientists obsessively working on crashed alien spaceships and dead aliens with a sense of joy despite all that is happening in the outside world, cool gadgets, whistling doors and other aspects look so cool. And then there’s the autopsy scene that always reminds me of my friend telling me he lost his lunch when they cut the alien.
Jurassic Park references never get old
The last act of independence day is one hell of a thrill ride with the action split between aerial battle between Earth forces and alien spaceships and David Levinson and Steven Hiller trying to escape the mothership after installing the virus that paralyzes alien defenses. But what makes this whole battle even better in my eyes is the inclusion of not one but two references to jurassic park.
There’s the scene where Russell Casse (Randy Quaid) sacrifices himself when his plane’s missile firing system fails. After shooting down the ship by flying through its laser beam, President Whitmore looks back and says, “He did it! Son of a bitch did it.” This is surprisingly similar to remarks made by Ian Malcolm in jurassic park after seeing a dinosaur for the first time. Then there’s Levinson’s “gotta go faster” line as Hiller flies the alien craft out of the mothership. Jeff Goldblum even addressed this reference in 2021.
I never understood why everyone keeps rejecting Russell Casse’s claims even after the discovery of aliens
Farmers and random restaurant patrons give Russell Casse a hard time about his alien abduction story in early independence day is understandable because they look like something out of one of Kate McKinnon’s “close encounters” SNL sketches, but everyone remains equally dismissive of them even after the aliens reveal themselves. It bothered me as a kid and it bothered me as an adult, and I still feel bad for the guy. Would this random small town bully or government officials reject the man so much if they knew he was willing to sacrifice himself to save the world?
Bill Pullman’s Thomas Whitmore is the undisputed champion of movie presidents
Is there a movie president as great as Thomas J. Whitmore in independence day? Don’t worry, I’ve already come to the conclusion that nothing compares to his oratorical skills or bravery (he jumped on a plane right away). I remember being a kid thinking President Whitmore was the coolest president in America (and that was four years after I saw Bill Clinton play sax on The Arsene Room Spectacle). There’s also the fact that Bill Pullman helped come up with the film’s title.
Other Random Thoughts
I also have random thoughts that don’t really need to be fleshed out, but still reside in my brain.
- The supporting cast is STACKED!
- The best example of “the dog must live”?
- This movie always reminds me of James Rebhorn’s move self written obituary
- Why did it take Steven and Jasmine so long to spot the aliens?
- Harry Connick Jr. really makes the most of his five minutes.
East independence day a perfect movie? Depends who you ask. Is it a great movie? You are damn right. Is this a film that I will like no matter what? You bet!