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Independence Day (1996)

ID4

EARTH Take a good look. It could be your last.

Directed by:

Roland Emmerich

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 153 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12

On DVD

Country: United States

Shame on anyone who can’t bring themselves to enjoy ‘Independence Day’. Sure, it’s big, it’s blustery, and it’s very, very silly – but cinema needs movies like this one: movies where you can let off nuclear weapons with absolutely no aftermath whatsoever; movies where our own laptop computers can be handily plugged into machines from outer-space without needing any sort of intergalactic travel adapter or anything; movies that say “thinking is for dummies, we’re going to entertain”.

Yup, this is quite possibly one of the most over-hyped blockbusters of all time, and it’s certainly one of the stoopidest (sic), but – almost a decade on – there’s still something exciting about sitting down to watch ‘Independence Day’ (or ‘ID4’, as it seemed to want us to call it at the time). A brash, effects-laden tribute to all those alien invasion movies of the 1950s (just try watching the original ‘War of the Worlds’ without spotting the countless similarities), Roland Emmerich’s ultimate mindless actioner is arguably as close you’ll get to a perfect textbook merging of old fashioned sci-fi with modern day big-budget fanfaring. If it all sounds a bit on the crass side, it’s probably because it is – but it still works.

An alien mother-ship (and it really is one mother of a ship: “one fourth the size of the moon!” – that’ll be a quarter, then) has distributed an array of giant flying saucers to park their rears over the planet’s biggest cities and commence destruction. Among the heroes we’ve to rely upon to save the day are a wise-acre fighter-pilot (Will Smith), a bespectacled (that means he’s clever) TV repair man (Jeff Goldblum), a drunken trailer-dweller (Randy Quaid) and – natch – the US President (Bill Pullman). They’re a deliberately diverse lot, although the one thing they do all have in common is that they’re American. After all, heaven forbid any other nation gets to stick its nose in when there’s a world to be saved, eh? In fact, one of the movie’s daftest moments is the bit that shows a selection of the planet’s other nations quite literally waiting by the phone for the US to come up with a plan (when the call finally comes, a cry of “about bloody time!” comes up from Blighty – great stuff).

This special edition director’s cut adds eight extra minutes onto the top of what was already a pretty lengthy viewing experience, but the time still passes surprisingly quickly – and that’s because, when all’s said and done, this is quite simply an extremely entertaining movie. Sure, it’s popcorn fodder, but it’s good at what it does. God bless those Americans!

It's Got: A bunch of aliens who have been good enough to plan their countdown to the end of the world in human hours, minutes and seconds.

It Needs: Not to be taken remotely seriously. Not that there’s much danger of many of you doing that.

DVD Extras Disc 1 has the option of watching either the extended special edition of the movie or the original theatrical release, both with audio commentary from writers Emmerich and Dean Devlin. On the second disc, there’s a glimpse at the originally-intended ending, trailers & TV spots, a half-hour ‘Creating Reality’ documentary, a TV mockumentary titled ‘ID4 Invasion’, a Goldbum-hosted HBO ‘Making Of’, news segments, stills, story boards and original artwork. In other words, everything you could think to ask for. Version reviewed Amazon UK Top pick from Amazon.com:- Independence Day (Limited Edition) DVD Extras Rating: 10/10

Alternatives:

Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Mars Attacks!, Signs, The Day of the Triffids, The War of the Worlds

Summary

Mindless, silly, deeply-flawed, and as enjoyable as ever – there really is nothing quite like seeing your fellow Earthlings getting it right up those alien scum!

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