Sunday, 23 September 2018
I've Just Seen: Independence Day (1996)
I vaguely remember this film being released, but was too young to see it at the cinema. I believe it was played a few times at school, but I don't remember watching it. If this film holds any significance today, it is as a barometer for how much blockbusters have changed in the last two decades. Other than that, I can't think why it is considered a must-see film.
The film is incredibly stupid in so many ways it is impossible to go through them; perhaps the most glaring is the use of the internet to download a virus onto the alien aircraft using Earth internet, but several thousand kilometres away from Earth (what the hell!!). None of the characters have much character development: the president is suitably bland - we get no sense of his political persuasion, only that he is thought to be too young for the job. One woman is shown to work as a pole-dancer, for no reason other than that's something male screenwriters seem to think is a big employer of women (tagent: I'd love to do a survey of all the jobs women are depicted having in films: I bet sex worker and stripper would be disproportionately high compared to actual jobs women have in real life). The disparate characters all eventually and predictably end up meeting and working together. And, of course, America saves the day.
While the film's visual effects have aged, I don't really have a problem as this happens to pretty much every film. And 22 years later they don't look that bad; other films have fared less well. However, the overwhelming Americaness of the whole endeavour (it just happens to be set around America's Independence day) just put me off. Apparently the rest of the world was just along for the ride.
Compared to the recent Arrival, Independence Day looks immensely stupid and violence heavy. If it shows any thought, it is in the rather pessimistic way it depicts conquering forces as destructive. But even this is giving the film too much credit. Its stupid, shallow and ultimately unsatisfying.