a movie review by Peter Knapp and Philip Wright
Rating: Two Thumbs Up
Philip: We (Jeff and I) had a good time last night. We really
enjoyed Independence Day. How did you like it?
Peter: I liked it very much. I also had a good time seeing you
two, as it's been a while. Next time I'll bring some cream cheese for the
smuggled-in bagels... :)
Philip: Over all, the story was good, but I thought some of it
was predictable - plus there were a few holes in the script (such as Jeff
Goldblum and Judd Hirsch having no trouble getting out of NYC, while Harvey
Fierstien is stuck in traffic).
Peter: That's an understatement. Then again, I had read extensively
about the movie beforehand, so I knew a lot about the story going in. The
producers intentionally paid homage to countless genre films, so by definition
many parts of the movie should have been familiar. They've both stated
that they wrote a "disaster movie of the '70's"-style of story, with lots
of characters, some of which would die. A disaster sci-fi epic is bound
to be predictable. As far as holes, there definitely were a few. Fireballs
are preceded by incredible waves of heat. The people and cars in the attacked
cities would be melting long before they were engulfed by flame. And that
service area in the tunnel that the stripper, her son, and their dog ran
into - can you say "toast"?
Philip: Dispite all that, I will applaud some of the acting.
I was actually impressed with Will Smith's performance - something you're
not likely to hear me say often. And Judd Hirsch was incredible as the
comic-relief/foil for Jeff Goldblum (and almost everyone else).
Peter: Ditto. I thought Will Smith was okay in Six Degrees
of Separation, but he really did a good job in this movie. Rob commented
that he thought Jeff Goldblum and Harvey Fierstien's characters were supposed
to be funny together. He didn't think the chemistry worked, and I agree.
Chemistry that did work was between Judd Hirsch and Jeff Goldblum's
characters. Fierstien playing the stereotypical homosexual just got in
the way of Goldblum's character; but Hirsch's playing the stereotypical
Jewish father complemented Goldblum's character nicely.
Philip: I agree 100% about Jeff and Harvey. In fact, I think
Harvey Fierstien was a last-minute addition in hope of covering ALL of
the social bases. The special effects, I felt, were excellent, despite
the acrid remarks about them by several critics. And I totally disagree
with the assessment of one reviewer who thought the ships were "just like
every other alien invader craft we've ever seen."
Peter: Especially in the opening. The mother ship was asymmetrical
and huge, unlike countless saucer-shaped UFOs.
Philip: The twist at the end (an Area 51 saucer helping our heroes)
was clever, but a little contrived.
Peter: You'll get no argument from me on this point.
Philip: But over all, I thought the film was well worth the price
of admission; and I'd recommend it to anyone, even if he/she isn't able
to find a bargain showing. Independence Day entertains even the
most jaded audience; and you come out of the theater feeling good!
Peter: Much, much better than Twister and Mission Impossible
Philip and Peter: Two thumbs up!
[Editorial addendum: Except in Japan, apparently. Some panel members
at one of the Japanese fandom panels I attended at Worldcon in Anaheim
didn't think ID4 would be receiving rave reviews in Japan. As far
as I can remember, no one pursued the subject of why not.]