Independence Day (1996)

independence day

“In the words of my generation: Up yours!”

The Scoop: 1996 PG-13 Directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Will Smith, Bull Pullman, Jeff Goldblum and Mary McDonnell

Tagline: On July 2nd, they arrive. On July 3rd, they strike. On July 4th, we fight back.

Summary Capsule: E.T. blows up stuff real good, but is lacking in virus protection software.

Justin’s rating: Out of all of our alien invaders, I like these guys the least

Justin’s review: If you remember back to the far-off time of 1996, probably every memory you have of that year was tainted by the specter of the Independence Day marketing campaign. If you got married that year, for example, you may have a hard time recalling whether or not you said your vows against the backdrop of the White House being blown up by an alien mothership.

This is not your fault, as the Hollywood studios experimented into the gray area of long-distance brainwashing in order to get you to see this movie. Ads were freaking everywhere, and public expectations for this film approached levels of religious fervor that started a Holy Crusade to go and march on the alien home planet of X’ar’poth, only stopped by the first few thousands marchers who had their blood boiled in the vacuum of space.

It took a long, long time after the release of “ID4” (their marketing department blissfully unaware that the number four is neither in the word “Independence” nor “Day” unless you use very complex calculus) to get past all the hype and generally see this film for what it was: an overblown spectacle that shamefully ripped off dozens of aliens-attack-earth films from years past. The acting was on par with anything you’d find at a local Burger King drive thru window and the plot stank of the soiled underpants of stupidity.

This is why it’s a wonder, at least in my mind, why people still claim to like this flick. “Hey, I kinda like that movie,” they’ll say to me, sealing their fate as I trigger the remote control to the evil nanite drones digging deep into their brainstems. I’ve come to the unfortunate conclusion that they’re pod people and must be purged if we are to survive.

ID4 spared no expense at getting a huge, famous cast together for an ensemble disaster flick, and then throwing millions upon millions of dollars in special effects around like so much empty calorie candy. ID4 did spare the expense of hiring anyone halfway competent to write a story that didn’t blatantly plagiarize older, similar-themed films, and include a story which was innovative and imaginative. No, who needs that when you can simply pay Will Smith a couple mil to shout out dumb catch phrases and see lots of computer effects blowing up?

Big alien ships (disc-formed, for your unoriginality) fly down to earth, hover over major cities, and then just kind of hang out there for a couple days. Naturally, everyone in the world save Jeff Goldblum and we audience who have seen the trailer doesn’t suspect that the aliens are anything but friendly, compassionate and probably fuzzy beings who like to cuddle after sex. That all changes when the aliens start evaporating major landmarks and kind of swat our best military technology away. Oh, the humanity!

Speaking for humanity, the movie bounces around between the deep, engrossing tales of a fighter pilot (Smith) and the stripper who loves him, the President/fighter pilot (Bill Pullman) and his wife (Mary McDonnell, who may or may not fly F-15’s on the weekend), a biplane-flying hick (Randy Quaid), a stuttering scientist in the know (Goldblum), and, during brief occasional montages, parts of the rest of the world. We get our butts kicked, we survive to fight another day, we accidentally stumble upon the alien’s key weakness (their computers don’t have any virus protection software), and we manage to eradicate super-high-tech spaceships with puny jet fighters. The end. Oh, and there’s fireworks. And possibly the most idiotic Presidential speech ever given in a movie to date. The end.

ID4 is out to insult every intelligent thought you might or might not have, requiring its viewing audience to shut off thinking and bleakly make impressed farm animal noises when the pretty lights go ka-boomy. If that’s your sort of thing, I’m kind of impressed you have the capacities to read this. If not, join with me in melting every copy of ID4 in microwaves that you can get your mitts on.

Data crosses paths with LONESTAR!


  •  The visual effect of the giant alien ray gun exploding is simply the same footage of the Empire State building exploding turned upside down.
  • The scene on board the submarine U.S.S. Georgia uses the a set from Crimson Tide
  • When David Levinson opens his laptop computer it greets him with the message, “Good Morning Dave.” – a reference to the talking computer HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • When escaping the mother ship, Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) says “Faster, must go faster”, a line which Goldblum’s character said in Jurassic Park when being chased by the T-Rex.
  • Composer David Arnold reused some of his score for The Young Americans
  • Will Smith’s squadron were stationed at El Toro air base. This is the same name as the air base from which the Flying Wing Bomber flew out of to drop the A-bomb on the Martians in the movie The War of the Worlds
  • The White House interiors were originally built for The American President, and were subsequently used for Mars Attacks!
  • Over 70 mock news broadcasts were created for the film.
  • The abbreviation “ID4” was invented due to undisclosed legal problems (long since resolved) with the title “Independence Day”.
  • Bill Pullman used the memory of a decayed tooth which was pulled from his mouth in order to come up with a terrified expression when speaking with the alien invaders.
  • Producer Dean Devlin said that well over half of the dialogue in the scenes Jeff Goldblum shared with Judd Hirsch and Will Smith was improvised
  • Holds the record for most miniature modelwork to appear in one film. It is said more minatures were used for this film than in any other two films combined. Due to the advances in digital technology since this film’s release, most experts believe this record may stand forever.

Groovy Quotes

Captain Steven Hiller: Oh! Oh! Elvis has left the building!

David Levinson: Oh, thank you very much. Oh, I love you man!

President Thomas Whitmore: I saw… its thoughts. I saw what they’re planning to do. They’re like locusts. They’re moving from planet to planet… their whole civilization. After they’ve consumed every natural resource they move on… and we’re next. Nuke ’em. Let’s nuke the bastards.

Captain Steven Hiller: I ain’t heard no fat lady!
David Levinson: Forget the fat lady. You’re Obsessed with fat lady. Just get us out of here!

David Levinson: They’re chasing us!
Captain Steven Hiller: Really, YOU THINK?

Russel Casse: In the words of my generation: Up Yours!

President Thomas Whitmore: Good morning. In less than an hour, aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. “Mankind.” That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… Not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight!” We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!

Jasmine Dubrow: There you go, thinking you’re all that. But you are not as charming as you think you are, sir.
Captain Steven Hiller: Yes, I am.

President Thomas Whitmore: Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, destroyed.
Gen. Gray: We have also learned that NORAD and our top commandos were the first to be taken out. At this rate, we could be looking at the worldwide destruction of every major city in the next 36 hours.
President Thomas Whitmore: Then we’re being exterminated.

If You Liked This Movie, Try These:

  • The Patriot
  • The Day After Tomorrow
  • War of the Worlds


  1. I liked Independence Day.
    Okay, In July 1996 I had just turned 11, but it’s one of those films that, when I watch it again, I realise… Kids are idiots. They can’t know they’re being idiots until they grow up and look back on the stupid stuff they thought was cool.
    Like Power Rangers and Transformers, ‘ID4’ was just another thing with shooty things and explosions that appealed to people under the age of 12. I don’t remember much of the advertising, except that our local paper came with a “Making of” VHS Tape, that sat proudly in our video collection, still in it’s shrink wrap, along side their other special offer, ‘the making of First Contact’ which had come out at the same time.
    I wish I’d been smart enough at 11 to watch First Contact. Sadly that day didn’t come until I was 21.

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