by MP Bartley
Sometimes as a critic, you'll find that your last few reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. Probably because you may only want to spend your hard earned money on films you probably know are going to be good anyway. But sometimes, just to keep yourself in good practice, and to stop you sounding like a quote whore, you'll need to unleash your negative feelings upon a poor, unsuspecting film. 'Independence Day' is just such a film.And this isn't coming from the perspective of someone who automatically sneers at the output of Devlin and Emmerich. Indeed, last years 'The Day After Tomorrow' sat proudly on this critics top twenty of the year. Mainly because they had learnt from their mistakes, most of which had been made on 'Independence Day'.
"Do we really need another review about why Independence Day sucks? Oh yes."
And strangely, there's a hint of a good film within 'Independence Day'. Say what you like about him, but Emmerich knows how to start a film. You've gotta give him praise for holding off the alien attack for 40/50 minutes, building up the tension nicely. The opening sequence of the moon's surface being stirred by the passing spaceships is a great moment, and yes, the ultimate appearance of the ships over cities and national landmarks is a shiver-inducing piece of cinema. Unfortunately, it had already been done just as well in the original 'V' mini-series. And whereas 'V' had plenty to say about fascism, the cold war, immigration and colonialism, 'Independence Day' has none of these high-falutin' ideas. Instead, it quickly becomes the film equivalent of a redneck yelling "USA! USA! USA!" in your ears. For two hours.
Because Emmerich just blows his wad with the worldwide destruction that the aliens unleash. But, as he learnt for 'The Day After Tomorrow', films that rely purely on their fx budget, aren't the ones that are remembered fondly. It's the blockbusters with wit, heart and invention - your 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Poseidon Adventure' - that truly last and take a special place in the hearts of film-lovers.
Instead, 'Independence Day' is crammed full of idiotic characters, intermniable emotional speechs and enough cheese to open your own delicatessen. Because Emmerich doesn't have enough skill to have it both ways: he can't have Will Smith blasting aliens out of the sky with sassy one-liners and kvethcing from Jeff Goldblum on one hand, while having last-minute weddings and teary-eyed, death-bed scenes on the other. "Mommy's sleeping now". Eeach, give me a break. Either make it an apocalyptic vision of the earths last few days, or a fun shoot 'em up.
Because, while as jaw-dropping as a film on this scale could be, we've instead got to suffer wacky scientists supplying unbalancing, unneeded comic relief, the rest of the world twiddling their thumbs while waiting for the good ole US of A to come riding to the rescue, and possibly the worst, gorgonzola-ridden speech ever given by a President. Who, of course, happens to be an ex-pilot still with the skills to still fly an F-15 at his countries (sorry, worlds. Even the film confuses the two) hour of need. And luckily for him, a great deal of survivors also happen to be pilots. Including a drunken farmer. How lucky!
And the films unremitting stupidity doesn't end there. Because who would have thought, that after developing the technology to transport themselves over light-years, to construct spaceships the size of a city, and to create planet-levelling weapons, the aliens don't have the common sense to install a decent firewall? D'oh!
Damn you Microsoft! But also praise you, for saving the world. I must remember to buy some shares, as soon as the stock exchange is rebuilt...Aside from the 'gee-whizz!' spectacle, which quickly tires, there are two good things about 'Independence Day'. One, Harry Connick Jr gets blown out of the sky. Two,a dog manages to run faster than a fireball AND leap out of its way. I had a dog for years, and could never train him to do that. But then, that's probably the benefit of having an American dog isn't it?
link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=217&reviewer=293
originally posted: 11/11/05 06:30:51