The year was 1996, NASA still had a budget each year, The X-Files was on TV and the only way to watch movies at home was on VHS (or laser disk if you were rich) and aliens ruled supreme as the theme for blockbusters.
We were given a gift that year, the epic, mind blowing and revolutionary film; Independence Day.
Will Smith had made his way to the big screen alongside 90s favourite and all around loveable (or hateable) goofball Jeff Goldblum. The tagline was simple, yet effective poetry of cinema; “We’ve always believed we weren’t alone. On July 4th, we’ll wish we were.”
Independence Day has always been there for me. When I was a child and didn’t know what movie to watch, it was old faithful. The tape my sister and I received for Christmas one year was so worn down from days and nights of staring at wonder and hiding behind blankets at the terrifying Area 51 scene. And remember how the VHS cover had that awesome “3d” image, fuck, times were so good.
When I was 18 I worked in a video (DVDs by now) store, I was fired after three days but as a consolation gift I got a free rental, and you know what I chose; Independence Day. Ironically I kept it so long I ended up with a $180 fine that I am pretty sure I never paid. Now that’s what I call a close encounter.
Now almost 20 years after it’s release, if I am ever feeling sad, hungover, lazy or exhausted I know I can put this movie on and stare at it for two hours and have a great time doing it. Some people like to fall asleep to music or a nice romantic comedy, but for me nothing soothes my soul like punchy Will Smith one liners and heroic dog leaps through firey tunnels (not to mention the ever mumbling Goldblum).
The great thing about this movie is, shit gets real from the get go. There’s no boring precedent while we are forced to learn about characters before stuff gets awesome. From the first scene the aliens are coming and within 15 minutes those big ass nuclear cloud ships are appearing above cities all over the world. We learn about the characters WHILE the world gets exploded.
This was an age where action heroes didn’t have fifteen feet of muscles covering their bodies and huge popping veins. They were scrawny, they wore flannos, they were alcoholics or they were the President.
There was no overblown plot with attempts to add a new twist every 30 seconds. Aliens came, aliens wanted to use up all our resources, aliens didn’t give a fuck about humans, aliens did’t engage in debate. The scene in Area 51 where the President asks the alien (who speaks through that gross long haired guy) “What is it you want us to do?” and they fucker just cocks his head and says in the creepiest way ever “Diiiiiiiiiieeee” that is the kind of shit that aliens did in the nineties. They didn’t ride around on futuristic rollerskates, we didn’t have giant robots to fight them with, we couldn’t rewind time to the start off the battle again every time we died. All we had were a group of rag tag smart mouthed bozos, AND WE STILL KICKED THEIR ASSES.
So thank you Independence Day, you are hero to us all.
Soon they will be releasing a sequel, set in real time 20 years or so after the original invasion attempt. Bill Pullman (The President) and Jeff Golblum (Dave Levinson, I know right who even knew his name until just now) will be returning to their original roles but sadly there will be no more Will Smith. Only time will tell if it stands up to the glory of the original.
Nineties heart throb accents saying “duuude”
ZINGERS left right and centre
The winner of the MTV awards “Best Kiss” category – epic romance
And now I present for your viewing pleasure, the original 1996 trailer for Independence Day.