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Independence Day

Cast: Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Randy Quaid, Bill Pullman, Vivica A. Fox, Margaret Colin, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Mary McDonnell

Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi destruction and violence

Runtime: 145 minutes

It's the end of the world as we know it! (Or is it?) Everybody's daily routines seem to be going smoothly until a strange signal begins to emanate from outer space. The source is soon detected when an enormous alien ship begins to hover over the Earth and dispatches smaller ships that position themselves over some of the largest cities in the world such as New York, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles. While some people are excited at the prospect of an alien visit, others are wearier and rightfully so.

While President Whitmore (Pullman) and his cabinet, including Constance Spano (Colin) are trying to make headway with what to do about the new arrivals, computer wiz (and Constance’s ex-husband), David Levinson (Goldblum) has discovered something unusual. It seems the alien ships are counting down to total destruction. He and his father, Julius (Hirsch), hurry to do the only thing they can: get to the White House to warn Constance and the President.

Meanwhile, Steven Hiller (Smith), a Captain with the U.S. Air Force on his day off, and his girlfriend Jasmine (Fox) have awaken to find all the neighbors packing their vehicles to leave. When Steven sees the reason why, he immediately reports for duty, and tells Jasmine that once she’s off work, that she and her son should drive to the base.

Julius manages to convince the President to flee the vicinity and as Air Force One is taking off, zero hour hits and the alien’s destruction leaves nothing standing in its wake. With a number of cities destroyed, Air Force One has very few landing options. That is, until someone mentions the existence of Area 51, the top secret locale where an alien ship supposedly landed decades ago. Once there, the group meets Dr. Brackish Okun (Spiner) who has spent one too many days working at the facility, studying the ship and the alien that was onboard.

The President and his crew aren’t the only ones headed towards Area 51. Steven Hiller, having fought one of the smaller ships and captured the alien aboard, has been picked up in the desert by a convoy that includes Russell Casse (Quaid), a down on his luck crop duster who is convinced that he was one time abducted by aliens. Steven immediately petitions to return to the base in hopes of finding Jasmine. Jasmine and her son, meanwhile, have been in route to the base, picking up survivors along the way. One of the survivors, it turns out to be, is First Lady Marilyn Whitmore (McDonnell), who was injured in a helicopter crash when the aliens attacked.

The scientists at Area 51 are hard pressed to find a way to defeat the alien onslaught. However, Julius soon comes up with the idea of loading a virus into the alien’s system. A simple idea, right? It seems simple enough until they realize that the only way to upload the virus would be for someone to fly the older alien ship at Area 51 and get it to dock with the mother ship. Who will volunteer for the mission? Will mankind be able to defeat the alien invasion? You’ll have to watch “Independence Day” to find out!

I still think that one of the best ways to have seen this movie was to catch it in the theater when it was initially released. That was the way to get the full effect of the scenes with some of the country’s most recognizable landmarks getting blasted to smithereens. While the effects may seem a little dated by today’s standards, there is still plenty of nonstop action going on.

One of my all time favorite movie scenes is in this movie. The view of Air Force One taxiing down the runway with a cloud of fire coming right at it is always nail biting. Another good sequence was the final battle between the humans and aliens.

“Independence Day” is definitely entertaining. The only thing different I could think of is maybe something more complex to bring down the aliens besides a computer virus. But, then again, I guess you go with what really works!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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