Saturday, December 5, 2009

Independence Day (1996) [PG-13] ****

Independence Day, along with Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow are big-budget, special-effects-laden action/sci-fi/thrillers written and directed by Roland Emmerich. All three films contain a similar plot structure: (1) the Earth and all of humanity are threatened with extinction by an alien intelligence, our own shortsightedness, or both; (2) a single scientist clearly understands the threat and uses his knowledge to help neutralize it; (3) humankind recognizes the threat in time and acts to prevent its own extinction. Emmerich has successfully used this formula in the three films to rescue humanity from being exterminated by: an alien invasion, a huge, prehistoric sea creature and catastrophic abrupt climate change.

The alien invasion story in Independence Day is exciting entertainment with a great screenplay, thrilling soundtrack, amazing special effects and an outstanding cast, including Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Margaret Colin, Mary McDonnell, Randy Quaid, Robert Loggia and Viveca A. Fox. However the film also contains a subtle message that we should not ignore. In a pivotal scene the U.S. President, played by Bill Pullman, describes his experience of thought transference from the captured alien: I saw... its thoughts. I saw what they're planning to do. They're like locusts. They're moving from planet to planet... their whole civilization. After they've consumed every natural resource they move on... and we're next.

Emmerich's point is that this is what the developed nations of Earth are doing. We're using the tools of globalization - multinational corporations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization - to drill, deforest and strip mine the remaining natural resources of the world to feed the voracious appetite of our consumer culture. In a very real sense we are the aliens, and we are destroying our own world. 

Labels: action, adventure, alien-invasion, flying, sci-fi, thriller, tragedy
Internet Movie Database
Metacritic 59/100
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=63, viewers=70)

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