What I Learned from Independence Day

Inspiration hit again this weekend as I came across a movie I cannot resist watching: Independence Day. I have seen this movie dozens of times, and it gets better, and worse in some cases, every time.

I realized during this viewing that Independence Day was my first alien invasion film. It was my first “aliens are not our our friends and will kick our ass” Sci-Fi movie.

A lot of people may scoff because I had not yet seen classics like Alien, War of the Worlds, or Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but I loved slasher films and Pulp Fiction more than anything at that age. Independence Day actually inspired me to watch the other alien movies.

I remember seeing Independence Day and being mesmerized by the shots, the White House being destroyed, and it was during this movie I came to love Will Smith.

So, for a fun Sunday read, here’s what I learned and loved about Independence Day.

1. Special effects could look real. This movie sucked me in from the first strike to the final escape from the mothership. After the first assault, there was something so disturbing and admittedly cool the Statue of Liberty laying face down in the ocean. The effects were not over-the-top or goofy; they were almost too believable. I guess that’s what earned Independence Day an Oscar in 1997 for Best Effects, Visual Effects.

The Statue of Liberty lies face down in the ocean after the alien attack.
Photo courtesy of Pop Culture Ninja

2. Will Smith was awesome. I watched Fresh Prince with everyone else, but it wasn’t until this movie that I appreciated his smart/bad ass side. He punched an alien after taking it down and talked trash to it. You don’t get much cooler than that.

3. Bill Pullman is not a very good actor. No offense, I love him in this movie and While You Were Sleeping, but he forces emotion. The script was well written, but Pullman did not bring me to tears or make me pull for human survival. I love watching him, but I am convinced it’s his eyes and smile.

4. The world needs heroes. In this movie, there were regular people doing amazing things for survival. Who could forget Russell (Randy Quaid) telling his kids he loved them as he helped save the planet? Or Jasmine (Vivica Fox) trying to get her crew, including the First Lady, to safety? In an alien invasion, there are no super heroes, only real people.

5. Jeff Goldblum made being a computer geek cool. I wanted to block cell calls, decode weird signals, and help save the world. The Smith-Goldblum team was movie magic as they raced off to to the mothership.

6. Not all aliens are like E.T. These aliens were intelligent, huge, well defended, and not playing around. They were not cute, would use your body to take the planet, and they did not care. This movie showed with enough fire power, a city could be destroyed in a matter of minutes.

So, what do you think? Where does Independence Day rank on your list of Sci-Fi alien movies? It may not be a Sci-Fi/horror movie, but it’s a good action flick that makes you realize we’re not as tough as we think.

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