Independence Day (1996)
June 26, 2016 5:19 AM - Subscribe

The aliens are coming and their goal is to invade and destroy Earth. Fighting superior technology, mankind's best weapon is the will to survive.
posted by phunniemee (46 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
mankind's best weapon is the will to survive really good-looking guys. And the fact that the aliens run MacOS. FTFY
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:18 AM on June 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is one of those films that I think you had to have watched when it came out to appreciate it. I didn't catch it until a few years ago and couldn't stop laughing and hooting through it. I'm curious how people who saw it in the '90s feel about it now.
posted by octothorpe at 6:30 AM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


No, it was ridiculous at first run too.
posted by Dr Dracator at 6:48 AM on June 26, 2016 [9 favorites]


I was a college student with free HBO when this was running twelve times a day in 1997 so I have seen it probably... well let's just say thirty times, conservatively. I love terrible action movies, so I don't know that I'm the best representative of "people in the '90s" - I recognize it's cheesy and implausible and ridiculous - Will Smith punches an alien who crash lands in the desert! - but I still love to watch it. It's perfect silliness.
posted by something something at 6:49 AM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Okay maybe not perfect. But good enough to watch occasionally when I find it on FX and giggle with delight.
posted by something something at 6:50 AM on June 26, 2016


Yeah, I love this movie. It came out when I was 9, which is really the perfect age for watching a movie where a bunch of aliens blow up, and it gave little Jurassic Park-obsessed me another movie with Jeff Goldblum doing his action nerd thing in the role of a thinly-veiled Ian Malcolm. It also has Harry Connick Jr.

I went on Thursday to watch the special double feature Independence Day premiere where they showed this and Resurgence back to back, and I have to say, it was pretty great getting to see all the original 20 year old aliens blow up on the big screen again. It's not, like, the world's greatest cinematic achievement. But it's got really cool explosions and it's really fun, and like something something said, Will Smith punches an alien.

A+ MOVIE.
posted by phunniemee at 7:04 AM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love everything about this movie except Harry Connick Jr. His character is so cringeworthy it makes me feel embarrassed for him.
posted by biffa at 7:57 AM on June 26, 2016


Bill Pullman for President.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 8:49 AM on June 26, 2016


The only part of the movie I liked was Brent Spiner going from goofy science geek to alien meat puppet demanding release. EVERYTHING else was completely predictable to teenage me.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:27 AM on June 26, 2016


I was about 11 when it came out, so I loved it the way any easily-entertained 11 year old would. Years of HBO re-runs only reinforced that, and I'd guess I've seen it a couple dozen times. I went back to the US a few months ago and while I was at my parents' house, I caught it on TV again for the first time in a few years and, yep, it's still pure cheesy greatness.

I wish cinemas here had a double feature, that would be awesome. I definitely plan to go see the sequel sometime this weekend.
posted by lullaby at 10:46 AM on June 26, 2016


I saw this and Mars Attacks around the same time, and now ten years later, I find myself conflating/conjoining the plots, characters, and key visuals. Kind of makes for a better movie?
posted by mochapickle at 10:58 AM on June 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


I love everything about this movie except Harry Connick Jr. His character is so cringeworthy it makes me feel embarrassed for him.


There is no way a movie with Randy Quaid could have a more cringeworthy element than him.
posted by skewed at 11:01 AM on June 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh dear god: Twenty years!
posted by mochapickle at 11:17 AM on June 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was 27 when it came out and despised it and will never watch it again. Had a similar reaction to the latest Captain America film which has finally made to decide to never bother with a Marvel or DC comics based live action film again (I've enjoyed most of the animated features).

I will always remember this film because I had made a comment about how terrible it was (referring to the plot and cliches, not production value) and a friend of mine's husband, who worked doing explosives for the film, was seemingly gutted by my statement, even after I clarified I wasn't referring to effects but I understand feeling bad when someone disses something you've worked on so now I never discuss my opinions of films, positive or otherwise with him.
posted by juiceCake at 12:45 PM on June 26, 2016


I'm curious how people who saw it in the '90s feel about it now.

I was 13 when this came out, so it is one of my favorite movies. As a 33 year old adult I can acknowledge intellectually that it is a cheesy mess but I don't care, I absolutely love it. The part where the various groups of European and Russian (?) military people are sitting around next to a random telegraph machine, smoking cigarettes and waiting for the US to tell them what to do? "About bloody time!" Such a cartoonishly ugly American scene, it makes me cringelaughcheer every time. America, Fuck Yeah!
posted by gatorae at 5:13 PM on June 26, 2016


I saw it at the late lamented Ziegfeld, and the most fun part of the movie was riding my bike home on NYC streets, feeling like a fighter plane.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 7:42 PM on June 26, 2016


The way I recall it, among my college-aged, onion-on-the-belt-wearing friends in the 1990s, we all thought the script was garbage but the visuals top-notch.
posted by entropicamericana at 5:42 AM on June 27, 2016


Because the new one is coming out over here in a few days, this was on TV and I caught about half of it. Of course, there were unanswerable questions:

One year after the release of Windows 95, why are viruses installed through a tape loader instruction?
How did the entire cast (including POTUS) end up in Area 51?
Why was the whole Hail Mary move a reference to anal probing?
Did the USA just force the rest of the world to celebrate their Independence Day?

So yeah, it's just another Pretend America is Great movie.
posted by arzakh at 6:02 AM on June 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


This movie is the example I use when discussing the differences between good movies, great movies, and awesome movies.
posted by Etrigan at 6:10 AM on June 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


mochapickle, just reading your comment made me check if Mars Attacks is available for viewing somewhere on the internet. I think I'm gonna have to indulge this bit of nostalgia as well.
posted by lullaby at 6:17 AM on June 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's not the kind of movie I would have ordinarily watched, either now or then, but my uncle worked on it, so we saw it for him. It was enjoyable enough, if you suspend disbelief, which is pretty easy to do. The pacing is good, the dialog is natural, if a bit hokey, and the visuals are pretty sharp. It's not great cinema or anything, but it was an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. I'll still watch if I see it on somewhere.
posted by kevinbelt at 6:41 AM on June 27, 2016


your comment made me check if Mars Attacks is available for viewing somewhere on the internet. I think I'm gonna have to indulge this bit of nostalgia as well.

DO NOT RUN

WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:20 AM on June 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


How did the entire cast (including POTUS) end up in Area 51?

Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch drive from NYC to the White House to go warn JG's ex wife/presidential aide that the aliens are gonna explode all the major cities. Jeff Goldblum gains President Bill Pullman's trust, and those two now form a unit with all the government folks. The ship poised over DC is about to bust, so that unit all piles in Air Force One to head to Dallas, which has been determined a safe point, where...

They're supposed to meet up with First Lady Mary McDonnell. She had been doing TV interviews in Los Angeles all morning, and was supposed to fly to Dallas at her earliest opportunity. When the interviews are over she gets in a chopper that unfortunately doesn't leave LA soon enough. AF1 loses contact with that helicopter, Bill Pullman feels bad, and people on the plane start to argue with each other. "We had no idea," says Bill Pullman, "nothing like this has ever happened before." "Well, actually," says former director of the CIA James Rebhorn. Now that there's no First Lady to pick up in Dallas, AF1 reroutes. And so goes our first group of folks to Area 51.

The LA area is also where Will Smith and his family live. Will Smith is a fighter pilot marine guy stationed out of El Toro, so when the aliens come hang out over the city, he gets called back to the base to go whoop some alien ass, in the parlance of their times. Vivica A Fox is mad that he won't be getting the holiday off as promised, so Will Smith invites her to come stay on the base with him in El Toro. And then Will Smith, as we all know, engages in a high speed shooty chase through the Grand Canyon with an alien ship. He runs out of fuel and crash lands in the desert somewhere in the AZ/NM area, where he drags a stinky alien on foot for miles before he runs into...

A convoy of dozens, if not hundreds, of RVs, of which Randy Quaid & family are our de facto representatives. Where they're coming from is unclear, but we can guess that it's somewhere in NM or maybe west Texas, possibly outside of El Paso, given that they were driving in the opposite direction of a big spaceship, and those things liked to position themselves over major cities. Randy Quaid runs into Will Smith, and Will Smith tells them to turn around and head toward the military base he saw as he was flying over. "It's not on the map," says Randy Quaid. "Trust me, it's there," says Will Smith. Now we have our second group of folks heading to Area 51.

Meanwhile, Vivica A Fox and son (and dog!) are trying to get from LA to El Toro. Traffic is bad and the aliens shot their superlaser, but it's cool because I guess superlasers don't cut through utility closet doors. They're safe, but LA has been wiped off the map. Vivica A Fox finds a truck, and they keep on their mission toward El Toro hoping to find Will Smith or at the very least safety there, picking up survivors they find on the way. That's where they run into the wreckage of a downed helicopter and find Mary McDonnell, injured but still alive. They finally make it to El Toro only to find that it, too, has been destroyed. They set up camp there and talk about dancing for a while.

Will Smith, now safely at Area 51 with the RV people, steals a big transport chopper to go and look for his family. He goes to place he expects/hopes to find them, El Toro, and hey wouldn't you know it, there they are. With Mary McDonnell, too! What luck. So he loads them up and takes them to safety. And so goes the third and final group to Area 51.


Pretty obvious. Really, you would know this if you bothered to watch the movie 40 or 50 times. Get with the program.
posted by phunniemee at 8:41 AM on June 27, 2016 [20 favorites]


and find Mary McDonnell, injured but still alive

Because if history has taught us anything, it's that Mary McDonnell cannot be killed. (She's like the anti-Sean Bean). She's immortal. At the end of Galactica, you just thought she died. It was time for her to leave Adama and move on before he discovered the truth, so she pretended to die. The first lady who walked away from a helicopter crash 10,000 years later? Same person.
posted by Naberius at 9:04 AM on June 27, 2016 [9 favorites]


Where they're coming from is unclear, but we can guess that it's somewhere in NM or maybe west Texas, possibly outside of El Paso, given that they were driving in the opposite direction of a big spaceship, and those things liked to position themselves over major cities.

Maybe the aliens decided to blow up all of Texas bit by bit to get their popularity ratings up?
posted by biffa at 9:21 AM on June 27, 2016


I was in high school when I saw it in the theaters and ever since, I still love the heck out of this movie. It's not a film I'll ever grab for a stint on a deserted island, but it's one that's still enjoyable on repeated viewings because the parts work so well together. ID4 really established the 'destruction' of landmarks genre that still continues to this day, for good or bad, but it keyed into the last days of the 80's action hero one liner quips and not to mention, identifying with the same fascination with invasive aliens that occurred in the 1950s. Gads, the whole Area 51 introduction and throwback to Roswell scenes are great on Air Force One.

All of the characters were generally well cast, and if they weren't, thankfully they didn't get that much screen time. The film hopped around providing different perspectives, be it the regular Joes just trying to survive the alien attacks to the response of the command on high in the White House. We watched introduced characters get killed, establishing some stakes, from the public, military, and even connected to the White House.

I can still feel the giddiness of suspense and anticipation when the ships illuminated their targets in the eerie green light, moments before dropping the super laser of destruction.

The impracticability of using a software virus to bring down the aliens is trumped by the wink and nod to War of the Worlds. Weirdly, I always feel a distinct sense of human pride when the Jolly Roger pops up and starts laughing at the befuddled alien.
posted by Atreides at 2:16 PM on June 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure why people obsess over the hacking thing; there was apparently a deleted scene that explained that a lot of our tech was reverse-engineered from the Roswell craft, but I always figured that the scientists who had been working on the ship for the last half-century had done most of the work and Jeff Goldblum's scientist just put the last piece of the puzzle together.

Regardless, it is a lot of dumb fun. It's almost like Starship Troopers without the fascist elements; humans beat seemingly overwhelming odds through good old-fashioned pluck.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:42 PM on June 28, 2016


It was a very hot summer when it came out and I saw this movie 3 times in the theaters. Twice in the main run theaters and once in second run. Even then as a young teen I was in it mostly for the air-conditioning.

Will smith was still the fresh prince to me and him being great blew my mind a bit. The visual effects at the time were amazing but other than that it was super dumb at the time. I've heard it described as dumb like a chili-dog. Like it doesn't make sense and doesn't stay together and it's garbage but it's kind of great.

I tried to watch it wire to wire last year and got bored about half way thru.
posted by French Fry at 1:58 PM on June 28, 2016


I'm curious how people who saw it in the '90s feel about it now.

It's a super zeitgeisty movie. Emmerich basically captured the entire decade on film stock, perfectly preserved for future generations.

It's definitely not a good movie, but everything it's interested in is comfortingly familiar to people who lived through that period. I imagine Terminator was the same for folks in the 80s, with the key difference that Terminator was actually a good movie as well.

I'll also say that ID4 (as we called it back then, no lie) succeeds at being coherently dumb in a way that a lot of other popcorn movies don't. The thing about everybody ending up at Area 51 is an excellent example. Yeah, the sequence of events stretches believability in so many ways, but it's at least explicable without creating any sort of headcanon. Even the Mac virus thing almost makes sense if you remember that, in the world of the movie, all of our technology is based on the captured alien ship. Contrast that with, say, Bayformers, where shit just fucking happens for no goddamned reason.
posted by tobascodagama at 6:09 PM on June 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Roland Emmerich was Michael Bay before Michael Bay was Michael Bay.
posted by wabbittwax at 7:48 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Phunniemee, your synopsis is excellent, but you're several hundred miles off on the location of Area 51 and some of the key scenes in the movie. Area 51 is in Nevada, not in NM (maybe you're thinking of Roswell?). The scene in which the RVs picked up Will Smith was filmed on the Salt Flats in NW Utah. I don't understand how Capt Hillard went from the Grand Canyon to NW Utah in a matter of seconds, but maybe his jet plane was really really fast - either that or Emmerich figured most folks wouldn't know the geography of the southwest.
posted by kbar1 at 9:02 PM on June 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ok, oops, yes I was thinking of Roswell, but it works fine with Nevada. Fighter jets at top speed can go a couple times the speed of sound, so we can assume his plane can go really really fast.
posted by phunniemee at 4:23 AM on June 29, 2016


It's a super zeitgeisty movie. Emmerich basically captured the entire decade on film stock, perfectly preserved for future generations.

Never really thought of it in this respect before, but definitely. This was that whole afterglow / end-of-history thing between the fall of the USSR and 9/11, and we were so bereft of enemies here on Earth that we had to turn to outer space.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:28 AM on June 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


The scene in which the RVs picked up Will Smith was filmed on the Salt Flats in NW Utah.

Wherever it was filmed, I think it's meant to stand in for similar (if less expansive?) geography along the Nevada/California border.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:44 AM on June 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


I also think the canyon is not actually supposed to be the Grand Canyon so much as some random canyon on the Nevada/California border. I could be wrong, but that whole sequence makes way more sense if you assume that it's a different, less-famous canyon.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:47 AM on June 29, 2016


We have a man writing software to display a laughing skull on alien starship monitor here - I believe some canyon geography hanky panky is to be expected.
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:17 AM on June 30, 2016


It's definitely not a good movie, but everything it's interested in is comfortingly familiar to people who lived through that period. I imagine Terminator was the same for folks in the 80s, with the key difference that Terminator was actually a good movie as well.

Both do really capture the feeling of their eras for me. I actually do think ID4 is definitely a good movie though and as good as Terminator for me. I watched both first run in theaters and several times since. Neither one changed my life or is a cinematic masterpiece, but both told a fantastical story with good acting and reasonably few plot holes.

Most people probably identify with just about any other character in this movie, but I really identify with Randy Quaid. I have been a washed up drunk who spouts crazy ideas about technology which seem insane but actually make sense in my head if I could just get people to understand (I'm better now) but then and now I'd gladly fly a plane into a laser for my kids. The redemption story of Russell Casse seems to be overlooked often because The Fly used a PowerBook to put a Jolly Roger on an alien spaceship after The Fresh Prince knew how to pilot an unknown craft to deliver it and Data was turned into a puppet while Alex Reiger consoled everybody. Russell being right and getting another chance to prove himself is still my favorite story line.

Why was the whole Hail Mary move a reference to anal probing?


That makes complete sense, but I somehow never thought of it until now. Crazy.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 8:23 AM on June 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


See, that sort of thing is what makes ID4 a good blockbuster. A lesser film would have made Russell Casse's final line "Up yours!" or something of a similar horse-beating variety. (I'd be shocked, actually, if there wasn't a draft lying around where that really is his line.) Instead, the visual pun is mostly left to stand on its own, with a mild reminder of Casse's probing ordeal in the form of his "I'm back!"
posted by tobascodagama at 5:06 PM on June 30, 2016


A lesser film would have made Russell Casse's final line "Up yours!" or something of a similar horse-beating variety. (I'd be shocked, actually, if there wasn't a draft lying around where that really is his line.)

em, not quite his last line, but...
posted by ppl at 6:18 PM on June 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hahaha. I stand corrected.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:43 AM on July 1, 2016


The "Up yours!" line is why I can't believe I never got the reference. But I really don't like the phrase 'up yours' so I think I just forgot I heard it.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 7:50 AM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Okay, I never got that joke, either! It's just dawning on me!

(And yeah, I don't care for that phrase, too. So that's probably why.)
posted by mochapickle at 9:21 AM on July 1, 2016


I mean, not to lay it on too thick or anything, but the whole line is

Alright you alien ASSHOLES,
in the words of my generation,
UP YOURS!

And then he flies his missile-laden jet up the pucker of that shit.

Er, ship.
posted by carsonb at 10:57 PM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I unabashedly love this film for all the reasons listed above. I must have just turned 15 when it came out.

- Ian Malcolm as stuttering cable guy
- Chess analogy
- Shit blows up good
- *BIFF* "Welcome to Earth"
- Not good, not great, but awesome
- Meat puppets
- Jolly rogers
- HCJr proposing to The Fresh Prince
- etc.
posted by carsonb at 11:01 PM on July 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ditto; it's rampagingly good fun. "I guess you'd like to see the big tamale?"

Alexander Huls, BEYOND IMAGINATION: HOW “INDEPENDENCE DAY” CHANGED THE BLOCKBUSTER:
This was operatic destruction—composed of screams and shattered glass, conducted with blood lust and guilty pleasure—the scales of which we’d never seen. Where other movies had teased annihilation in villain’s monologues, or shown its aftermath with disheveled Statues of Liberties, “Independence Day” not only sincerely threatened the end of the world, it made us watch it happen. It was horrifying, which is to say that it was also spectacular.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:01 AM on July 2, 2016


This is not a good movie. And due to some circumstances, I saw it in theaters twice in a week.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:57 AM on July 6, 2016


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