I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Independence Day

President Whitmore (right) confers with the Chief of Staff's ex-husband's dad
President Whitmore (right) confers with the Chief of Staff’s ex-husband’s dad

summer2016originsWhen Roland Emmerich’s INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE landed (get it, like a space ship [although I guess technically these ones never land, so forget it, I retract that pun]) in theaters 20 years after the first one was a smash hit in the summer of ’96, people were asking if the first one held up. Trick question! It was never good. If there’s any way it’s a classic it’s as a classic example of a summer blockbuster that’s a huge hit, but unworthy to join RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, TERMINATOR 2, etc. in the pantheon.

Let me put it this way: It’s a movie made by people who thought five syllables was too unwieldy for a title, but two was too small, and therefore it should be referred to by the half-sensical abbreviation “ID4.” That’s not normal people thinking. That’s pure Emmerich. And I think it’s fair to say that only Emmerich (with his then writing/producing partner Dean Devlin, an actor from MOON 44) could’ve, or at least would’ve, made this movie.

I suppose what works best in ID4: INDEPENDENCE DAY 4TH OF JULY is the traditional unfolding of the disaster. SETI receiving a signal, the Pentagon spotting the Mothership, satellites not working, international news coverage of other ships, attacks, trying to fight back, shields, a dead alien, the reveal that the government has a crashed ship and some bodies in Area 51 that were an early warning sign… Unfortunately, Emmerich’s style is to illustrate these situations with annoying characters and inane humor. We can’t have heroic MIT-grad figure-outer Jeff Goldblum without his mugging father Judd Hirsch or his wacky gay co-worker Harvey Fierstein, who says “I gotta call my brother. My housekeeper. My lawyer. Nah, forget my lawyer!”

You get it? Because lawyers, man. The worst! Oh what I wouldn’t give to see one of those greedy motherfuckers eaten off a toilet by a dinosaur, am I right?

mp_id4It’s a big Irwin-Allen style ensemble, with Goldblum sort of as the lead, basically seeming like his character from JURASSIC PARK even though he trades in his cool guy leather jacket and sunglasses for a bicycle and obsession with recycling. What a nerd! Bill Pullman as President Whitmore I guess has the best character since he’s the most ridiculous, a one-upping of Harrison Ford’s asskicking president in AIR FORCE ONE. I think Will Smith was taken to a new level as a movie star playing top gun so-and-so, but it’s not much of a character beneath the formulaic swagger. I’m not surprised he had no interest in going back to discover what makes (checks IMDb) Captain Steven Hiller tick. And Randy Quaid, whose over-the-top bottle-sucking “I was raped by aliens!” shtick was not funny then, is just kinda sad to watch now that he has actually turned into that guy times ten.

To me this is weak as a monster movie. They do plenty with flying saucer battles, but the aliens themselves – an ugly off-brand mishmash of the queen from ALIENS and the cliche big eyes of Whitley Strieber – have little personality. I could probly rattle off a dozen funny things the Martians did in MARS ATTACKS! but I just rewatched this one and I can’t remember how many aliens they even show or what they are doing. It doesn’t help that two seconds after we first see one Will Smith gives it a one-punch knockout. It’s funny to see him dragging the unconscious body through the desert, but it kills the whole build up of tension at the wrong time.

Best time capsule moment: the Fruitopia vending machine at Goldblum’s workplace.

The idea here is obviously a ’90s update of a ’50s flying saucer film, yet it doesn’t seem to aim for a ’90s level of the ol’ verisimilitude. We must accept that the military is so protective of their UFO secrets that they kept them from the president, yet after he finds out they’ll let him bring in his press secretary’s ex-husband, the ex-husband’s dad, and hey why not also a fighter pilot and his girlfriend and her son and her dog. It’s cool, U.S. military. Relax. And they’ll leave Goldblum and his dad alone all night with the flying saucer and nobody will be there to intervene when he gets drunk and starts smashing shit.

You could make a movie where smart people put their heads together APOLLO 13 team of scientists style to understand alien technology and learn how to control it. Or you could have Will Smith know how to do it because he’s seen them close up. Obviously this is the second one. This is a world where only the general played by Robert Loggia will say anything when the president (Bill Pullman) decides on the horrible, horrible plan that he is going to personally fly the plane with the bomb for the mothership. And then the general is not gonna stop him and gonna make it obvious that he’s kinda impressed by this absolutely moronic and world-risking recklessness.

Since I hadn’t watched this whole thing in 20 years I don’t think it ever occurred to me that some of George W. Bush’s famous moments – the megaphone speech at Ground Zero, and the jet landing/flight suit thing on the Mission Accomplished aircraft carrier – had to have been inspired by this movie’s depiction of what his father should’ve done when he was a president accused of wimpery. The press corps and others keep complaining that President Whitmore has become “a wimp,” that he’s “too much politics, too much compromise.” In other words doing his job of bringing a divided congress together to pass legislation to try to improve the country. But don’t worry, we know he’s getting a bad rap and he actually has gigantic balls and he’s going to show off his gigantic balls and we’re all gonna high five each other and it’s gonna inspire each and every one of us to grow the size of our own balls to a larger size like his balls.

Yeah, I’m just going to say it. There is a real possibility that this dumb ass movie influenced George W. Bush’s macho foreign policy, and got people killed. I’m not saying for sure, but I’m saying possibly, and I’m not joking. That’s a hell of a thing to think about.

After Whitmore’s speech and his stupid, stupid, stupidly risky battle strategy everyone is in awe of his masculinity. A pilot salutes so emphatically he could’ve chopped a cinder block in half. A teen (Lisa Jakub from MATINEE) looks forgivingly at the father whose alcoholism and crazy behavior caused her a life of misery and humiliation that will extend into not appearing in the sequel. The American plan to, like, try to blow them up causes worldwide admiration. “It’s about bloody time!” says a Brit who of course couldn’t come up with a plan himself. Israelis and Palestinians look at America’s coded message together as brothers. In France they view it huddled together looking like a movie about the French Resistance. As a genuine European and world traveler, I have to wonder if Emmerich only does this shit to condescend to his American audience.

I always thought this was a bad movie and touchstone of the “it’s not supposed to be Shakespeare” crowd, and I don’t think it’s aged well. Truly the main appeal, and center of the very successful advertising campaign, was the destruction of landmarks like The White House. Remember how they got everybody in the theater? It wasn’t by saying “the new film by the makers of STARGATE” or “the campy new fun time where you just check your brain at the door guys it’s fun!” It was with these trailers:

It’s interesting how deadly serious they are. Not at all the goofball shit everybody remembers now. Maybe that serious version is what I wanted at the time.

Since then we’ve seen it done in other movies with more modern special effects, and world events and shifting tastes have made building destruction less crowdpleasing and more upsetting. These special effects seemed pretty state of the art at the time, but they had saved money by not going completely digital. It’s one of the last movies with large scale use of miniature models, and not combined as heavily with digital effects as THE PHANTOM MENACE, which gives it a bit of a retro appeal now. They look a little hokey. Which I’m okay with.

But obviously all this corniness and stupidity is not an accident, and even if it is it gives me a laugh, so I can’t fault anybody for liking the movie for that. The part that brings me the most joy is after Vivica Fox makes it out of a tunnel of exploding cars, she turns to call to her dog, and we get this ridiculous shot of the dog running toward the camera in slow motion and jumping away from a fireball.

There’s a trope that a pet escapes death in a disaster movie (in VOLCANO it was a pot-bellied pig I believe), but it’s inspired absurdity to combine that with an action star glory shot. And it’s not just that, but the oblivious look on the dog’s face. It gets me every time.

I can’t hate this movie anymore. As long as I don’t have to feed it or clean up its shit I’m okay petting it every once in a while if it’s on cable.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 7th, 2016 at 7:41 am and is filed under Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

81 Responses to “Independence Day”

  1. Looking back at it, the hype around this movie was much more fun than the movie itself. I do belong to the camp of people who never liked it (despite being 14 when it came out, which should be the perfect age to enjoy it). Maybe I should have seen it in theatres instead of VHS.

    But as a time capsule it’s great. Well, actually more the memory surrounding it. How awesome, unique and instantly iconic shots like the giant flying saucer coming out of the clouds or of course the destruction of the white house were. How the movie starred the “Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air” and also had “Data” in a small part. And of course how hyped my friends and I were before its release. (Not to mention the German media’s frenzy, because “Holy shit, one of us did this super successful, all records breaking blockbuster!!!”)

    Random trivia: In 1997, German channel RTL made a TV movie mased on “John Sinclair”, who is some kind of ghost hunting exorcist and one of Germany’s very few true pulp heroes. The movie was shit and managed to piss of fans and non-fans alike (but especially the fans), but it was notable for two things.

    1.) It was the first German movie that used CGI (and it looked of course bad, but considering that at this time XENA and BABYLON 5 were the state of the art when it comes to made-for-TV CGI, you could say it wasn’t much worse than this.)

    2.) The big money shot, the one that was in every trailer and hyped up in every interview and making of, was the explosion of the Cologne Cathedral, “just like in INDEPENDENCE DAY”. And I’m not gonna lie. It was kinda cool to see a German landmark blow up like that, but it had zero to do with the story and was obviously just an afterthought, to cash in on the still lasting ID4 hype. (Basically the hero stops for a moment, we see the cathedral explode and he says: “I just had a horrible vision of the future. We must stop [the bad guy].”)
    The movie was directed by Klaus Knoesel, who was one of the two directors of THE HIGH CRUSADE, which Roland Emmerich produced.

  2. Vern, let me be the first to applaud you and this review for continuing to top the honestly unprecedented standards you have set down in your work for all of the many years you have been honing this shit. But the reason that I really wanted to post was because the parallel you drew between this film and GWB’s horrifying actions while in office genuinely gave me goosebumps. I felt like someone had punched me in the chest when I read that.

  3. Not saying that I think a direct correlation between the two things is assured, just that the debatable probability is deeply troubling to say the least.

  4. I can’t remember ever laughing as long or as loud in a movie theater as I did during the president’s big speech. The combination of Emmerich’s blunt-instrument filmmaking and Pullman’s “Boardwalk caricaturist’s sketch of a roguish antihero” persona created an epic new level of straight-faced cheese that had never been achieved before and has rarely been achieved since. This was never even kind of a good movie, but it was always a pretty good time if you’re in the right frame of mind.

    Okay, maybe I laughed harder when all those gorillas got lasered at the end of CONGO. The mid-90s were a great time for earnest camp.

  5. I find it funny that Vern can forgive and enjoy movies as bad or worse than ID4 but can’t bring himself to like this one.

  6. The appeal of INDEPENDENCE DAY is that it is “wouldn’t-it-be-cool-if-this-happened-in-a-movie” wish-fulfillment. When I saw it in the theater, and it got to the part where the President is insisting that there is no Area 51 that might have technology to use against the aliens, and his aide says “Sir … that’s not entirely true,” it got a knowing and appreciative laugh from the audience. And I’m sure my screening wasn’t the only one where Will Smith punching out the alien and saying “Welcome to Earth” got applause.

    It’s a funny, goofy, crowdpleasing movie. I can see how a more serious, APOLLO 13-style version of an alien invasion would be “better” but in this case they were going for cornball fun rather than realism. The fact that it didn’t take itself too seriously was actually what made it work in my opinion. The shameless sentimentality and “fan service” (as it’s called now) is intentional and part of the appeal.

    The movie is full of likable actors and funny one-liners. I thought Quaid was funny, and the idea of an alien abductee getting his revenge in a big combat scene is entertaining. And yes, it’s also funny/awesome that there’s a movie where a U.S. President becomes an action hero.

    The theory that this movie had an influence on Bush’s presidency is interesting. I perceived the movie as simply prophetic of 9/11 (the NYC crowds fleeing in terror, the government’s “how did we not see this coming?” confusion, and yes, the milquetoast President being elevated to greater public status in the tragedy’s wake) rather than actually causing anything in the real world. But then one could just as easily argue that the song “Helter Skelter” caused mass murder.

    What this movie meant to me in 1996 was the return of 1970s/1980s style fantasy/sci-fi blockbusters. They had been out of fashion in the more grungy, indie-friendly early 1990s but have become increasingly dominant in the years since this came out.

    In the years immediately before INDEPENDENCE DAY I can’t think of that many really big sci-fi movies that weren’t just continuations of an aging series (JURASSIC PARK seemed like a rare exception, and even that felt like a “comeback” for Spielberg). But then in 1997 alone there was CONTACT, MEN IN BLACK and THE FIFTH ELEMENT. So geek culture was back and has only gotten stronger since then, for better and for worse.

  7. I remember a girl I liked in high school said she didn’t like this movie and I was like, “WHAT??? WHO DOESN’T LIKE INDEPENDENCE DAY??” which is funny because you probably can’t find five people who admit to liking this movie now. ID4 (and it’s sad how I just accepted this abbreviation and never questioned it until this review) has to be the movie that made the most money that people love to hate and love to brag they hated it first (well maybe behind Avatar and closely followed by Forrest Gump).

    I honestly don’t think I’ve ever rewatched this one, and I’ll probably hate it when I do (was going to rewatch it to get ready for ID5 but since that made like, Battle: LA money, it’ll probably be in the $2 theatre/Redbox sooner than I can find time for a rewatch of ID4). I do have to say watching this in a packed theater was a great memory though – the audience ate everything up, cheered for the one-liners and the dog scene and Pullman’s speech. Also I was probably too young to remember the Irwin Allen disaster flicks so the multiple lead characters and big scope was new and exciting to me. It was the consummate “turn off your brain” experience, and even though I felt something was missing and I knew I wasn’t watching a great classic or anything even close to Star Wars or Indy, I “liked” it the same way kids today probably like the Transformers movies. At least this one didn’t have the sadistic mean-spiritedness of those movies (or the absolute awfulness of Emmerich’s Godzilla).

  8. I forgot to mention that the year after INDEPENDENCE DAY included not just CONTACT, MEN IN BLACK and THE FIFTH ELEMENT, but also GATTACA and (how did I forget) the re-release of the STAR WARS movies!

    And in the couple years after that we got DARK CITY, THE PHANTOM MENACE, THE MATRIX, X-MEN. Followed soon after by the LORD OF THE RINGS movies, the remaining STAR WARS prequels, the MATRIX sequels, and SPIDER-MAN.

    So I still think of ID4 as the first pebble in that avalanche that has lasted to the present.

  9. Great analysis, Vern. I think you’ve probably hit the nail on the head: the events of 9/11 triggered (a) those impulses in GWB and his posse, and then (b) the country’s acceptance of those actions as we watched them happen in a semi-shocked stupor. We WANTED Pull Billman to be our president — VIOLA! There he is walking across the flight deck, and Chris Matthews gets the vapors and has to go lie down in his bunk for a little bit.

    For the serious, realistic version of ID4, your “Related Post” of the Cruise WAR OF THE WORLDS fits that bill, I think. Stuff blows up real good in both movies, but WOTW plays it pretty straight all the way down the line until OH BOY!! his son survives the massive slaughter of millions of people. It’s just as stupid as the dog jumping away from the fireball, and blew the whole flick. It couldn’t have been any more ridiculous if Spielberg would’ve walked in front of the camera Jess-Franco-style at that moment, winked at the audience, and then the screen iris’s in to the Looney Tunes graphics “That’s All Folks!” while Tom Cruise jumps on a couch and the credits roll. Haven’t watched it again because I was so pissed off. And now I’m mad again.

    Vern, keep the Summer 2016 Origins series coming – it rocks, man.

  10. Vern! “A pilot”? You know that’s Animal Mother!

  11. I can’t wait for this movie to have 2 or 3 really bad and not very memorable DTV sequels, and then John Hyams ressurects it with a movie so good it makes us question if we somehow woke up in an alternative timeline.

  12. I hate to say it, but this movie is very high on my list of objectively terrible movies which I also unabashedly love. I’m sorry, I know you hate to hear that because it means you can never respect my opinions again, but there it is. I think it has something to do with Emmerich’s irresistible big gay German earnestness. This is not done for camp or irony, he just really believes in big, broad, primary colored emotions.

    But say what you will about his outsized cornball melodrama, the man fucking knows how to stage a setpiece. This movie still looks great, and even its sequel has a bunch of cool stuff with not a single fucking frame of shaky cam. Big budget disaster-porn movies are inherently silly, but few of them deliver the goods like Emmerich does.

  13. “There is a real possibility that this dumb ass movie influenced George W. Bush’s macho foreign policy, and got people killed. I’m not saying for sure, but I’m saying possibly, and I’m not joking. That’s a hell of a thing to think about.”

    Wouldn’t be the first time. PATTON was one of Richard Nixon’s favorite movies, and it jolted him into sending troops to Cambodia. There was a scene shot for Oliver Stone’s NIXON where this was depicted, and Fox gave him the go-ahead to use the footage but George C. Scott blocked it. Knowing that it influenced Nixon into making such a deadly idiotic decision haunted him.

  14. thepinkservbot – Emphatically Saluting Guy? I don’t think that’s Adam Baldwin, is it? I’m talking about this guy:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oj16vfbsM9A&feature=youtu.be&t=2m5s

  15. This is another movie I can’t hate even though it probably deserves it. It also marks the end of Emmerich’s semi-winning streak. Universal Soldier is better than it has any right to be, I always thought Stargate was a missed opportunity for a fun concept (have a cool hero played by Kurt Russel and then focus on the lame scientist character, ok…) but knew people who loved it, and this is one of those ones that came out and seemed everyone except for film critics loved. I enjoyed it too at the time but don’t get the enjoyment out of it that I once did. Brother used to play it at Suncoast during “Patriotic” holidays and defended the decision based entirely on the Bill Pullman speech.

    After this he peaked with me though. As the resident Godzilla-trekkie it may surprise you that I do not hate his take on the character/series, there are some fun set pieces in the first half and then it takes a complete nose-dive in the later part after his Godzilla dies the first time and we get the lame Baby Godzillas and Madison Square Garden sequence(s) followed by a not very good car chase climax. In Godzilla he made the same mistake I feel he made in Stargate, focus on the lame scientist character instead of Jean Reno. The scientist character as lead (kinda) worked in Independence Day because he was played Jeff Goldbum, also he was surrounded by Will Smith and Bill Pullman, boring-ass Matthew Broderick didn’t have as good a support crew. Regardless Godzilla had somewhat of a pulse (for part of it anyway) every movie movie Emerich made post-Godzilla I’ve found a complete bore and was hard to sit through them. Even his truther wet-dream movie Anonymous which sounded funny for all the wrong reasons.

    I have not checked out Independence Day Resurgence yet to see if it broke his post-Godzilla streak, sorry Independence Day, Godzilla is the only Resurgence I want to see this year.

  16. Huh. I thought cinder-block-chop-salute-guy was Baldwin as well.

  17. I saw this travesty in the cinema ad absolutely HATED it. Everyone else seemed to really like it and i just couldn’t understand. It just infuriated me how terrible it was, i was clenching my fists and gritting my teeth the whole time. What made it worse was when the Star Wars trilogy for a re-release in cinemas not long afterward, a friend of a friend said to me “I watched that Empire Strikes Back there. Pure shite, nowhere near as good as Independence Day”. I didn’t know whether to laugh in her face or cry. When you’ve made as many films as this Emmerich has and only Universal Soldier, of all films, can even be remotely considered “good”, then it’s probably time to choose a new career.

  18. Man, what a coincidence. Looks like there’s ANOTHER big summer of ’96 blockbuster that influenced the Iraq War:

    How Michael Bay's 'The Rock' Was Used to Justify War in Iraq

    The newly published report on the Iraq War claims British intelligence may have ripped off the plot of the action thriller to help justify military intervention.

  19. Did anybody else read the tie-in novels? One was about how Brent Spiner began working at Area 51 and the other one was how the Middle East dealt with the alien ship after it crashed. I only have a few (potentially incorrect) memories of them:
    -Brent Spiner getting high and inventing mirror paint
    -Aliens riding chariots around a desert oasis and shooting soldiers with tentacle guns
    -A lot of time spent trying to get the alien elevators to work in the crashed ship

  20. Never liked this one. Was super stoked on the trailers, which at the time seemed like “oh damn!” But the actually movie was just so dumb. But the escaping dog is maybe one of my all time favorite things to watch on repeat.

  21. That initial teaser is much better put together than the actual film. I was absolutely the right age for this film, and I rewatched it continuously, but, man, is it dumb. The best parts now are when it’s completely straight-faced about its idiocy, but when it’s actually trying to be funny, the jokes are painful to listen to. The connection between the president flying a jet in ID4 and George Bush landing on an aircraft carrier is so obvious, I’m surprised that I missed it and that, as far as I know, no one else made the connection.

  22. ID4 was the Avatar of its day. Incredible on opening day (while your head is still dizzy from the hype) and pretty much forgettable in the years that follow.

  23. I remember the Super Bowl ad for it, and just being completely creeped out by it. It made it seem much darker than the final product.

  24. I enjoyed this movie in the theater for the same crowdpleasing, fan service-y, campiness that others identified. Indeed, it checks all the wish fulfillment boxes. But I have never once watched it since or had any desire to. It is pure junk food. As I’ve gotten older, I think I’ve just kind of aged out of this stuff. Not that I’m too wise or mature or anything, but it simply doesn’t sustain my interest. Then again, I think I said the same thing about the Marvel films, then I gave them another try and started to appreciate them more. I will say this: At least ID4 started from an original premise and wasn’t the fifth attempt to reboot some other franchise or adapt some comic book or whatever. Also, even though it does not conform to any natural acronym logic, I think the ID4 acronym was genius. We still remember it today, which is saying something: go ahead and drape a big old mission accomplished banner over the U.S.S Acronym.

  25. Id4 has an awesome buildup to its great destruction scenes (with a timer!) And then the firestorm is really impressive to watch. From the reaction shot of the girl on the bulding to the jumping dog, it is a top notch sequence. There are flashes of brillance after that (the president speech, the two air battles) but it never reaches the same high. David Arnold’s score is one of the last really catchy bombastic full orchestra score that I can think of.

  26. As a huge fan of stupid movies, it seems like I should like this much more than I do. I always felt this was the less enjoyable kind of stupid, though. More cynical to the audience, like “they won’t care because…explosions!” I prefer my stupidity to be the “hey, I realized that big scene we just shot doesn’t make any sense, but we’re out of film stock, so let’s just roll with it!” type. Still, defeating the aliens because all their technology apparently runs on a Mac OS is pretty inspired.

  27. George Sanderson

    July 7th, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    I agree that the start of this movie and the build of tension is actually pretty good. Goldblum is great and Smith cements his on-screen persona for the next decade or so and both have more than enough charisma to make up for insipid lawyer jokes and stereotypical portrayals of everyone from elderly Jewish gentlemen to people who live in rural areas (I’m not from the United States but everyone seems to be quite broad in their performances, so I’m assuming that they are stereotyping, but someone could correct me on that). Another thing that bugged me when watching this, before the aliens start blowing everything up, Goldblum and Hirsch drive from New York to Washington in what seems like very little time. Is that possible?
    Anyways, this is one of my parents’ favourite movies but they see it as a total comedy. They believe jingoistic flag-waving has to be parody and is therefore genius.

  28. It’s about a four- or five-hour drive on the average day. A holiday weekend? Could be six or seven. A holiday weekend with an impending alien invasion? I doubt you’d get out of Manhattan in less than eight.

  29. George – so you’re Paul’s son? Good to see you inherited the sane genes.

    Tried watching ID again a few weeks ago. Like Mr Subtlety said (about this and REGURGENCE), it’s bonus point’s to Emmerich for being tasteful enough to shoot fluid action in this era of Who-Gives-A-Fuck-Where-The-Camera-Is-Pointed-Just-Shoot-Asshole type of action. But I just don’t have the tastebuds for Emmerich’s blandness. He brings spectacle to his disaster films like this and 2012, but GODZILLA was unforgivably bad, in the worst way. It could have been ridiculously good if it was less ambitious, and had Jennifer Lopez and Ice Cube step off the boat from the Amazon and say “Ah shit, not again. Fuckin reptiles”. THE PATRIOT is the one I’ve re-watched and enjoyed more than any other of his, mostly thanks to Mel’s hatchet-throwing.

    As for the stupid abbrev ID4 4EVA, I was at my local JB Hifi store a month ago when it got re-released, and I overheard one of the young twenty-something girl employee’s say “I don’t get why it’s called ID4 if it’s the first movie?”, to a group of her tattooed, ear-stretched grungy colleagues. No one could answer her. Was tempted to offer the answer but didn’t want to come off as the creepy middle-age customer who knows about American holidays, so I left her in her ignorance.

  30. I think objectively bad is a correct term for this one. Re-visiting it does no favors to the actual film. There is a few iconic shots, but the film itself is as pointed out filled with badly written characters that is just insulting to a thinking audience. I would even go as far as say that PIXALS reminds me of INDEPENDENCE DAY , although that movie had a couple of nice sequences amidst all the terrible scenes with the “characters”.

  31. I think I take some of that back. I much prefer Bill Pullman as President rather than fucking Paul Blart.

  32. Christof – I could be wrong, but it looks like a different guy to me, and Baldwin is in the scene earlier not wearing a helmet or, from what I can tell, the same type of uniform.

    neal – holy shit, that is crazy.

    Jack – For what it’s worth, I have rewatched AVATAR several times and I always think it’s even better than I remembered.

  33. I thought will smith was open to returning and they didn’t want to wait for him to finish Suicide Squad, which is stupid because they could’ve had an ID4 sequel with will smith!

    I wanted to see the serious version the teasers promised.

  34. Funnily enough, I enjoyed it a little bit more in the years past than when it originally reached the cinema. Back then, I though that it was totally dumb, with many stolen elements from far better movies. And of course, All of that is true, but after my original disappointment and anger, I was able to enjoy the good as well as the silly parts more and more. Also, back then, it offered an alien invasion on a never before seen scale. And I for one think that the effects actually hold up incredibly well (far better than many CGI-heavier movies of the late 90s, early 00s). It’s still not my favorite movie in the world – not by a long shot – but for what it wants to be, it’s okay.

  35. And no-one has considered that every movie Emmerich has made in his career is a by-the-numbers piss-take?

  36. George Sanderson

    July 8th, 2016 at 3:14 am

    Thanks Majestyk. I’ve done the journey by train once but couldn’t remember how long it took (not that it would have been reliable anyway).
    Poeface – I may be Paul’s son as my Dad won’t tell me the handle under which he posts.

  37. Is he really that clever, pegsman?

  38. Poeface, that “ID4” story reminds me of something I heard about the film The Madness of King George. Apparently, it’s based off a play called The Madness of King George III, but they got rid of the roman numerals because they thought American audiences would think it’s a sequel. Of course, since George III is the bastard we gained our independence from, you would think Americans would realize it’s just a royal numbering system. But in the end, the filmmakers didn’t trust us to figure it out.

  39. You were right, pegsman…Emmerich was WAY ahead on the meta-irony-satire by dumbing down that title. Those silly Americans, I’ll teach them to use their brains!

    (Thanks RBatty)

  40. ID4 was the equivalent of a memo or hashtag before there was such a thing. The fact that it is super concise and easy to remember, along with the fact that it is puzzling (makes you stop and think what it means) is its genius.

  41. meme. not memo. dangit! :)

  42. RBatty024, that Madness of King George anecdote is a myth:

    The Madness of King George

    Was the title of the film 'The Madness of George III' changed because American audiences might have thought it was a sequel?

    Interesting that nearly everyone here dislikes INDEPENDENCE DAY. Which brings to mind something I’ve noticed: There doesn’t seem to be a lot of nostalgia for 1990s movies right now, even though the 1990s are now more than old enough to be potentially retro.

    The 1980s seem to still be our current nostalgia point. The comedies, action movies and fantasy films from that era (even the dumbest ones) are either genuinely still loved (or loved more than ever) or are at least enjoyable as camp. But something about the 1990s seems less liked.

    It could be that there weren’t so many family-friendly movies in the 1990s for a later generation to look back on fondly. It was an era of dramas, and the genre films that were made were striving to be dark and edgy. I suspect very few millennials have grown up with childhood nostalgia for, say, PULP FICTION or THE USUAL SUSPECTS. Whatever 1990s nostalgia there is currently seems to be for video games and TV cartoons, not live-action movies.

    But I also think the 1990s was a time when a growing cynicism in the culture coincided with a perception that Hollywood could do nothing right. When I think of big Hollywood movies of the 1990s, I either think of movies that were actually popular but also fashionable to criticize (INDEPENDENCE DAY, TITANIC, FORREST GUMP) or films that were considered fiascos, sometimes even before they came out (WATERWORLD, SHOWGIRLS, LAST ACTION HERO, maybe HUDSON HAWK).

    For some reason Poochie, the “in-your-face” skateboarding character added to the Itchy and Scratchy Show in a 1997 episode of THE SIMPSONS, comes to mind as a representation of Hollywood in the 1990s. I guess nothing dates as badly (or rings as false) as trying too hard to be hip. Whereas the 1980s stuff is less steeped in cooler-than-the-audience irony.

    Here’s another theory – the 1990s was an era of talking rather than doing. Tarantino and Kevin Smith opened the door on a slacker-intellectual era when talking about and deconstructing other people’s stories became as cool as actually trying to tell new stories. And it was also the decade when the Internet first caught on widely. So the 1990s started the echo-chamber era we’re still living, and so it’s not much of an escape to revisit that era (other than to marvel at the fact that people still used dial-up and 3″ floppies). Whereas the action/adventure heroes and comedy characters of the 1980s do now seem to belong to a less navel-gazing and more proactive era by comparison.

    Or maybe the 1990s just need to age a little longer. Who knows.

  43. Many attributed the massive success of JURASSIC WORLD to ’90s nostalgia, and the movie does seem to fit the bill with its meta references like the nerd guy who is obsessed with Jurassic Park and old memorabilia and stuff. But I can’t think of other examples, so you may be right.

  44. Booo… Vern you are the champion of how the lowbrow can be aesthetically pleasing. Sometimes wise. Sometimes even transcendent. That quality does not come only from the usual checkboxes.

    Of course it’s not high art. Of course it’s dumb. But compare it to the likes of ARMAGEDDON: same dumb shit. But it entertains! That’s the point.

    And I come here and read a review overthinking the trash?

    Vern, wtf?

    I have only this to say to you Vern… reading this review, you’ve become Ben Affleck:

    Ben Affleck Mocks Armageddon

    Don't forget to check out the rest of the article here: www.cracked.com/article_23866_6-hilariously-uncomfortable-rants-dvd-commentaries.html If you feel lik...

  45. “the genre films that were made were striving to be dark and edgy”

    How do you figure? The 90s were the era when the disreputable genres of the past were reborn as slick Hollywood product. Action movies stopped starring cynical anti-heroes and started starring prettyboy everymen who worked with the system and only killed in self-defense. Slasher movies came back as winky-winky horror sitcoms starring attractive TV actors. Monster movies ditched the visceral body-horror of latex effects for the pristine sheen of CGI. Martial arts movies gave actual martial artists the boot and enlisted the heartthrobs of the day to fly around on wires like Peter Pan. Safe, sterile properties like old TV shows became source material for PG-13 action thrillers. The reason 90s genre movies aren’t as fondly remembered is not because they’re too grim and gritty (that didn’t happen until the early 00s) but because they’re facile and watered-down. They lack the purity of purpose that earlier (and later) genre films had. It’s the decade of genre movies for people who don’t normally like genre movies.

  46. I totally get how you guys all find the dialogue insipid and the characters and plot holes ridiculous. But honestly to me that’s part of the charm. It’s earnest, heartfelt camp at its most innocent and uncalculated. It’s like STAR WARS — you can hardly claim that anyone, anywhere has ever talked like that, but it’s not a bug, it’s a feature. It’s a way of evoking a broad, somewhat old-fashioned view of what movies are and what they should do. It’s either gonna drive you totally crazy, or you’re just going to embrace it and go to the ridiculous world Emmerich wants to take you to.

    One thing I will point out, though, is that as silly as it may be, I think ID4 is a impressively mounted production. It looks great, it’s full of iconic images and cool design work, and it has a genuinely effective build to it. It’s not an action movie per se, but I think the way it slowly unspools into the huge destruction scene, retreats, and then gradually builds towards the climax is actually extremely effective. There’s some flab in there, but as a whole I think the movie has a surprisingly strong grasp of the fundamentals of filmmaking –minus, obviously, writing and acting– that shouldn’t be ignored just because it’s also a sublimely stupid movie. You rarely get this combination of factors, and I think it’s one reason this one has held up better than some of Emmerich’s other, more formless movies.

  47. Thank you Mr. Subtlety, exactly: it’s camp.

    It is meant to be over the top and not taken seriously.

    To find plot holes and implausibility in turn-your-brain-off popcorn fare is the problem, not the movie.

  48. Which is not, I hasten to add, a claim that “it’s not supposed to be Shakespeare” or that Emmerich has spent his career making secret postmodern comedies or anything. This is clearly how he wants his movies to be, and he wants to you be excited and engaged with the plots. Look at scene in ID4:2 (spoiler) where Dr. Oken’s partner dies. It’s clearly meant as genuine melodrama. But it’s just as clearly meant as melodrama, not pure drama, and certainly not realism. You’re meant to take it somewhat seriously, but on its own terms as cinematic artifice, the way you do (or don’t) with movies from an older era, where they also talk and act in a way which feels stilted and artificial to us today. It’s not a throwback to 50’s sci-fi and 70’s disaster movies — it just IS one. Me, I love those movies, and part of what I love is the inherent artifice of them. Emmerich captures that nicely in this one, not as commentary or as winking criticism, but just because I assume that’s probably the kind of movie he likes, too. That’s how he thinks movies should be, or at least how HIS movies should be, whether he’s consciously aware of it or not.

    It’s like over-acting vs. mega-acting. To me, this is a very MEGA movie. That may not work for everyone, but I think it’s obviously trying for something different and kind of old-fashioned, and it charms me.

  49. Oh god, am I really going to be the guy here on record defending both Emmerich and the Prequels (and also SOUTHLAND TALES)? And you guys give Paul a hard time?

  50. You’ve got to be kidding me, Curt! I even double checked Wikipedia before I wrote that claim. Are you trying to tell me that Wikipedia isn’t a reliable source of information?

  51. Curt and Vern – Would DOPE count as 90s nostalgia?

    I think that the biggest reason we don’t see much in terms of 90s nostalgia in film is because the 90s really were the indie decade in a sense. When I think of movies from the 90s, I think of things live Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Clerks (unfortunately), Kids, Dazed and Confused and a whole list of other independent and/or small budget movies. While there were obviously some blockbusters (some which are even good), I don’t think that the blockbuster movie is something people usually associate with the 90s. Whereas it was essentially born in the 80s and remains a cultural touchstone for that decade. And I think that blockbusters are much more nostalgia-ready than smaller movies. Making a sequel to Kids (Adults?) wouldn’t stir up the same fond memories as seeing a T Rex and the Jurassic Park logo. At least that’s my guess about why we don’t see a lot of 90s throwback cinema.

  52. Yeah but we know you’re just fucking with us, Mr Subtlety, shaking the tree to see who caves in….

    Michael Mann made three of his best movies in the 90’s. Mel Gibson made BRAVEHEART and PORTER, Shane Black wrote THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT. The 90’s wasn’t just about Blockbusters vs Indies.

  53. Wow, I see a lot of of negativity in the comments here, but then again, to each their own. I must say that it had been a long time since I had watched the first one until two weeks ago, when I went to go see a double feature in theaters with this and Resurgence. I think the last time I had watched it was in 2003, so it had been quite a while. I also must point out that I didn’t see this in theaters when it first came out, and I only first watched it on video later that year (The double feature was also to make up for my missed theatrical opportunity). I still have the VHS of it somewhere.

    Anyway, what I think of this movie is that I still enjoy it, but I also can see why a lot of people don’t like it. It does have a lot of big special effects and action. The dialogue could have been better in hindsight and now I can laugh about President Whitmore’s big speech because it is rather ridiculous. Not to mention that all the main characters come together at Area 51. At least with the Casse family they didn’t interact with the president or Goldblum’s character or even Will Smith’s character and the family. I also still laugh about how lucky the dog was to escape the blast.

    Sometimes I wonder if I am too easy on movies that I watch because I never hated this movie. In fact, I still like it, and I respect other people’s opinions of it. Hell, I remember telling people that I prefer White House Down to Olympus Has Fallen and people gave me some kind of look about it. Not that I didn’t like OHF, because I did, but I had more fun with WHD. Anyway, I have not seen enough of Roland Emmerich’s films to really say that he is a bad director. I remember seeing The Day After Tomorrow in theaters in 2004 and enjoying it, but I am not sure how it will hold up now. I remember enjoying Godzilla back then but after watching some of it on cable a few years ago, I saw that the movie was just bad. I have also been given crap for liking Battleship, a much-maligned film.

    When I saw this in theaters a couple of weeks ago as part of the double feature, I started to pinpoint a lot of dated elements. I find it funny how a lot of people still believe the 1990’s are not dated and whatnot, but when you watch TV shows and movies from that era, you can see how dated they really are.

  54. thepinkservbot

    July 8th, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    Vern,

    OH MY GOD I HAVE TOTALLY BEEN REMEMBERING THAT AS BALDWIN

  55. BR – first of all, I don’t generally believe in overthinking. Second, that Ben Affleck clip is awesome. Third, this review is about how I have hated INDEPENDENCE DAY for twenty years and now don’t really hate it anymore.

  56. Majestyk,

    I was more of a sci-fi nerd back then, and to me that genre definitely seemed to steer darker in the 1990s with films like TOTAL RECALL, TERMINATOR 2, ALIEN 3, DARK CITY, EVENT HORIZON, the 1992 director’s cut of BLADE RUNNER, etc. compared to the John Williams type movies of the 1980s. (There of course were dark sci-fi movies in the 1980s too, but they weren’t necessarily the most prominent ones at the time.)

    And I think Tarantino brought a new and controversial type of violence to the crime/gangster genre in the 1990s. I don’t think many people would argue with me on that.

    But of course every decade is a mixed bag and so you’re probably picking up trends I didn’t notice as much, because I wasn’t so much into horror movies or straight action movies at the time. I suppose the 1990s wasn’t much of a decade for horror, as you suggest, though I remember liking the Guillermo del Toro monster movie MIMIC.

    In any case, I think we have a shared perception that 90s movies “lack the purity of purpose that earlier (and later) genre films had.” But then, it wasn’t that long ago that 1980s pop culture was routinely dismissed as crap for not being as profound or personal as 1960s/1970s movies, whereas now the 1980s are upheld as a golden age. So it will likely happen to the 1990s too.

    And of course, the 1990s was more or less the golden age of Steven Seagal movies, without which this site might not exist and none of us would be here talking to each other now.

    Dtroyt – I haven’t seen DOPE, but what little I know about it (including the poster) definitely has a HOUSE PARTY-era vibe, so I’m guessing yes.

  57. Haven’t seen DOPE, but I doubt it will beat THE WACKNESS in terms of 90s nostalgia. The only reason why that one took place in the 90s, was that it could constantly namedrop Biggy, Cobain, NES, etc. Storywise there was no other reason for that.

  58. Actually, STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON probably counts as a 1990s-nostalgia movie. And given our upsetting current reality I suspect that Rodney King-era themes are going to be returning to movies and/or TV in a big way.

  59. I really should go to bed but here’s one other thing about ID4 – To my knowledge it was the first big Hollywood sci-fi tentpole movie to have a black leading man. It’s an ensemble film, but Will Smith gets top billing and most of the good lines.

    We take this for granted now, because the film established Will Smith as a big movie star who appealed to both black and white audiences. But this is a big summer spectacle where a black guy and a clearly-identified-as-Jewish guy team up to save the world. This was rare then. And I guess it still is, given the “whitewashing” controversy of late.

    And while one might criticize Harvey Fierstein’s small comedy role as a worried gay man, to have a sympathetic character like that in a movie like this at all did seem slightly bold at the time.

    I say ID4 deserves some credit for these things, whatever other problems one might have with the movie.

  60. Curt – Good points.

    About ’90s nostalgia: Yes, THE WACKNESS and DOPE are good examples. DOPE is contemporary but it’s about some kids who are obsessed with ’90s music and fashion.

  61. Yeah, I heard Emmerich mention in several interviews, that he really had to fight for Will Smith. Not just because he was at that time mostly known as a sitcom star (although he had already BAD BOYS under his belt, in terms of box office hits that made him look like an action hero), but also because of his skin colour.

    (And on a less racist note: The movie also had to be made without any help from the US Army, because they insisted that Smith’s character would do the heroic sacrifice at the end and not the alcoholic redneck.)

  62. Poeface, I don’t know if you have to be clever to think that getting the tone just right will ensure more money. But that could, as you say, bring back the “clever Europeans vs. gung-ho Americans” debate from a few years back, and I don’t think any of us want to go there again…

  63. Emmerich has the technical chops and ambition to make Big Summer Movies, but I don’t see him adding any commentary or subversion or creativity or (fuck me here I go, sorry)..satire to his films. Compare his STARGATE to (fellow Euro) Luc Besson’s FIVE ELEMENTS CABBIE, for example. Hell, Uwe Boll has less talent than Emmerich yet still strives (to a degree of success) to make a statement like in his RAMPAGE trilogy. I guess I’m saying I prefer crazy ambitious fence-swingers to picket-fence perfection. Emmerich plays safe hands.

  64. CJ, I’m not saying you’re wrong but I find that very surprising. I don’t remember the military having a kamikaze style approach to combat.

  65. Maybe they would have changed some further details too.

  66. I think INDEPENDENCE DAY and lots of other 90’s movies, not least of all FORREST GUMP, were definitely litmus tests that indicated a cultural force in the US ready to elect a cowboy/idiot and rally behind him.

    Far as Emmerich goes, I think his blend of heart-on-sleeve melodrama and camp worked best in the unfairly dismissed 2012, which on the surface is exactly like all his other movies … but consider the actions of President Danny Glover vs Bill Pullman. The (spoiler) Captain who Goes Down With The Ship. It’s an archetype I can get behind more strongly than anything in ID4 or AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH: EMMERICH EDITION. I don’t really remember the rest of the movie rest enough to defend it, but I remember thinking “hey, this isn’t as bad as all those people said.”

  67. One last personal note:

    Emmerich owns the house behind me and he is the worst neighbor ever. About once a month plus any time there’s any sort of pride event, they have parties with live music and DJs. These things are so fucking loud that it drowns out my tv even with my doors and windows closed. Whenever you politely ask that they turn down the noise, you are usually treated like a peasant (or in the case of a friend of mine, accused of being a homophobe and told that you only want them to be quiet because they’re gay, not because maybe you don’t want to hear shitty disco music at 2 am on a Thursday… Ironically the friend they accused of this is gay). Inevitably the police come and shut it down which I’m sure is a great use of the LAPD’s time and resources. Anyway, the guy is a truly insensitive asshole so at this point if he made something which was Citizen Kane level film making, I’d probably still hate it.

  68. No problems Vern! To each their own.

    Yeah that clip is awesome, I laugh every time I watch it, it’s a must see.

  69. Who moved in first Dtroyt?

  70. This Dean Devlin from an oral history of the making of the movie really made me dislike him:

    “Steven Spielberg invited Emmerich and Devlin to the set of The Lost World. He offered some sobering advice, which Devlin recalled as:

    Steven Spielberg: Enjoy it, because in six months they’re going to turn on you.

    Devlin: How come?

    Spielberg: Because in six months they’re not going to remember the movie. They’re just going to remember the hype, all the toys, the commercialization of your film, and they’re going to forget the film.

    Not that Spielberg had any experience with that kind of thing [Yes, I’m being sarcastic].

    Devlin: I thought maybe that was sour grapes, but six months later we were being called everything that’s wrong with Hollywood. All that year, headlines were ‘the year of the independent film,’ because all the movies nominated for Oscars were independent movies [Best Picture Nominees: Braveheart, Apollo 13, Il Postino, Babe, Sense & Sensibility, though not all of those are indies]. But the reality is, when these movies do well, the studios are flush and when they’re flush, they’re willing to take chances on more interesting films. In Europe it was so misunderstood. The American government throughout the years has so angered 80% of Europe that by the time our movie came out every single place I went to promote the movie the first question was: ‘Don’t you think this movie is promoting the idea that America is the world policeman?’”

    “Sour grapes”? As if Steven Spielberg was actually threatened by these guys! He was offering them good advice that came with experience. Devlin sounds like an egotistical dipshit.

  71. Let’s be fair, when you become overnight one of the most successful people in Hollywood and the true king of Blockbusters invites you, just to tell you: “Soon they will all hate you”, it does come across as a little threatening.

    And Disco music at 2am on a Thursday? That reminds me of the apartment building where I grew up.

  72. Lawrence

    I think around that time he was egotistical. Look up any interview of him promoting Godzilla and laugh at how he talks about how know one is even going to talk about those awful Japanese ones after we see what they got in store. That said, I’ve read some recent interviews with him where he comes across as way more humble and even admits to mistakes they made.

    Detroit

    Ah the ‘ol ‘I’m not an asshole you’re prejudiced!’ defense of assholes. You have my sympathy.

  73. Sternshein – I moved in first. For about a year the annoyance was caused by the construction crew. When the house was finished, we were like “finally. An end to the noise.” Little did we know it would only get worse.

  74. Next time Emmerich throws a party, call him and tell him the box office numbers for ID4 part deux. That should shut him up.

  75. Vern, i think what BR means is that even though this is ostensibly a review where you say you don’t hate the movie anymore, 95% of it consists of negative things about the movie. And everything you said is true! It’s a movie that’s very easy to make fun of, I mean it’s practically inviting you to do it. But now having rewatched and thoroughly enjoyed this, i will gladly go to bat for it and say some positive things:

    1) The middle 90 minutes or so with the attacks is actually very well-staged and reasonably tense. I’d argue the tone of the movie is a little closer to the trailer than people are giving it credit for being. Sure there’s the wacky supporting characters and not very funny one-liners, but I felt it was more like humor peppering a serious situation rather than the whole movie being a wacky jokefest. (Both of Whedon’s Avengers movies definitely treat their end of the world scenarios in a much jokier, glib tone). Emmerich actually gets the tone just right by playing it straight and unironic, but still keeping it fun and crowdpleasing. I don’t think many people, including him, have been able to recreate this tone since.

    2) As Curt said, I think we take for granted how forward-thinking this movie was re: minorities. And even though one could argue Judd Hirsch goes over into broad caricature/stereotype, he still has a few sweet and heartfelt moments with Goldblum that’s rare to see in a blockbuster. Speaking of which, I think the non-judgmental portrayal of strippers and Fox’s line about not being ashamed of her job is incredibly progressive for its time and even progressive today. (I’m glad they cut the deleted scene where she quits her job, btw)

    3) There’s decent character development. Sure, it seems like Screenwriting 101 where every single person has one trait/characteristic/subplot that pops up later to be resolved, but I actually liked all these characters in a broad way. Surprisingly, the only one that seemed underbaked is Will Smith – he’s in it alot and gets alot of screentime and dialogue but he doesn’t really connect. But as a Die Hard-esque mission statement that announces he’s no longer a wacky TV comedian and he’s now a credible action hero, this works really well.

    4) The Special Effects are really dated, but in an interesting way. They don’t hold up at all, but at least it’s not the typical “matte painting” dated special effects like you saw in ROTJ and Temple of Doom. The miniature work (which wowed me in the theatre) looks just as fake as say, the stop-motion stuff in The Life Aquatic, and it’s just as charming.

    5) I don’t really think the computer virus thing was any dumber than the typical stuff you see in a Hollywood blockbuster; it’s weird how much people harp on that plot point when they don’t bring up how computers do magic things in almost every blockbuster ever made. Are there people going on and on about how John Connor’s ATM-skimming machine probably wouldn’t work to open that vault door at Skynet? On that note, I think the other big complaint (the President himself going into battle) is delightfully over-the-top. It’s silly in a fun way, kind of like what happens in the 3rd act of Battleship (which I still won’t give away because it brought a huge grin to my face).

    So yeah, i expected to hate this with a rewatch, I never expected to like it as much as I did. Maybe it’s the Michael Bays or the Orci/Kurtzman’s, but this stands well above most terrible, mean-spirited mindless summer fare we’ve been given. It’s a shame the sequel’s failure will probably cement this one’s legacy as “the movie nobody really liked anyway.”

  76. Lawrence, in that “sour grapes” paragraph it sounds like Devlin was trying to say that he didn’t take Spielberg’s advice seriously at the time but that Spielberg then turned out to be right. He was saying that Spielberg warned him about being hated in six months, and that this warning turned out to be correct. Whether Devlin is or is not a jerk the rest of the time, in this case I don’t think he is dissing Spielberg at all.

    neal2zod, the Judd Hirsch and Jeff Goldblum characters may be written/played a bit broadly but they are heroes in the film and I believe we are supposed to regard their Jewishness as an endearing and relatable character quirk. Their neurotic talkiness may be a bit of a stereotype, but it’s a positive and affectionate one in my opinion. I think Goldblum and Hirsch are funny and appealing in the movie. I’m not sure how racist the movie is when we are expected to like and identify with these characters.

  77. (neal2zod, my apologies for that last sentence – I don’t think you were calling the movie racist)

  78. Having watched this recently…wow, it has not aged particularly well. I actually think Vern’s “Irwin Allen” comment was on the mark, as this film has always come across as more of a disaster pic, and less of a sc-fi (or even action) movie. It’s just so dumb, and it hammers you with a club of dumbness until you, too feel dumb for having watched it.

    The possibility of this dumb movie having influenced a very dumb president is not something I’ve thought of before. I find the concept chilling, and it’ll likely keep me awake all night.

  79. Curt – no worries, i think you and me have the same feelings on the subject – ID4 is very warm and affectionate for its characters, and it’s refreshing that they explicitly mention Goldblum and Hirsch’s Jewishness but don’t make it a big deal. Not to mention how many summer blockbusters would even bother putting in a character like Hirsch’s? He doesn’t figure in the climax, he doesn’t die – most studios would leave him on the cutting room floor. The only similar character I can think of is Sam’s dad in the Transformers movies but he acts more like a ridiculous buffoon who exists solely to embarrass his son.

    Re: the Irwin Allen-ness of it, I actually think looking at ID4 as a meta response to those 70s disaster pics adds extra weight not just because of the 90s spin on the structure and the disaster set pieces, but because (sorta spoiler) – a lot of those 70s pics end with the main characters dying or sacrificing themselves, and ID4 explicitly teases the sacrifice of Goldblum and Smith before saying “nah, this the 90s- we’re going to end on a positive upbeat note instead of a 70s downer”. Granted, they do kind of a half-ass job of it and I didn’t think Goldblum and Smith were in any danger whatsoever, but I like the idea alot on paper.

  80. Dtroyt, thanks for sharing your stories about living next to Emmerich. There are a metric TON of ways that you could mess with him and make his life a living hell and make him cry on a daily basis, but I applaud your restraint and your being a functioning adult without a psychotic and overriding need to revenge the shit out of people who honestly deserve it. My hat is off to you, sir.

    Dean Devlin talking shit about Spielburg is kinda cute. Spielburg gets a percentage of every fucking dollar that Universal theme parks takes in. Devlin was in REAL GENIUS for a couple of minutes. So they’re pretty much at the same level, if you think about it.

  81. I’m no Devlin defender, but that quote didn’t sound anti-Spielberg to me. I think we’re reading too much into it. I think he was saying at first he thought Spielberg just had sour grapes about some movie that had a backlash against it, but later he learned that it was good advice.

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