Thursday, 7 July 2016

Nerdversity Reviews: Independence Day (1996)


As today is the 4th July, I thought we'd celebrate by taking a look at the 20th Anniversary of the original movie. Developed in 1995, after Roland Emmerich had finished Stargate and was promoting it. He came up with the idea of an invasion movie where the aliens were already here. How would Earth fight back? would the aliens make a grand entrance or stay hidden?

The plot revolves around On July 2, 1996, an enormous alien mothership that has one fourth the mass of the Moon enters orbit around Earth, deploying 36 smaller spacecraft, each 15 miles (24 km) wide, that take positions over some of Earth's major cities and military bases. David Levinson, an MIT-trained satellite technician, decodes a signal embedded in the global satellite transmissions that he determines is a timer counting down to a coordinated attack. With the help of his former wife, White House Communications Director Constance Spano, Levinson, and his father Julius, gain access to the Oval Office and warn President Thomas J. Whitmore that the aliens are hostile. Whitmore orders large-scale evacuations of New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C., but it is too late; the timer reaches zero and the ships activate devastating directed-energy weapons, killing millions. Whitmore, the Levinsons, and a few others, narrowly escape aboard Air Force One as the capital is destroyed, along with other locations over which the ships are positioned.
On July 3, international military leaders begin ordering individual counterattacks. Their aviation forces attack destroyer ships positioned above the ruins of the cities, but they are protected by force fields. Each destroyer launches a swarm of attack fighters, which wipe out the human fighter squadrons. Captain Steven Hiller of the Los Angeles USMC squadron survives by luring his attacker to the enclosed spaces of the Grand Canyon and sacrificing his plane, forcing the alien to crash-land. He subdues the injured alien pilot and flags down a convoy of refugees, hitching a ride with former combat pilot Russell Casse. They transport the unconscious alien to nearby Area 51 where Whitmore's group has landed. Through Secretary of Defense Albert Nimzicki, they learn that a faction of the government has been involved in a UFO conspiracy since 1947, when one of the invaders' attack fighters crashed in Roswell. Area 51 houses the refurbished attacker ship and three alien corpses recovered from the crash.
While eccentric scientist Brackish Okun examines the alien brought in by Hiller, it regains consciousness and attacks. It telepathically invades Okun's mind and uses his vocal cords to communicate with Whitmore and his staff before launching a psychic attack against him. As Whitmore thrashes in agony, Secret Service agents and military officers shoot the alien dead, leaving Okun in a coma. Whitmore explains that during the psychic attack, he saw that the aliens travel from planet to planet, somewhat similar to Earth's locusts, destroying all native life, and stripping a planet's resources before moving on. Whitmore reluctantly authorizes a nuclear attack; a B-2 Spirit fires a nuclear cruise missile at a destroyer positioned above Houston, but the ship remains intact. Hiller later takes one of Area 51's helicopters to search for his family at the ruins of El Toro Air Station; he rescues them and other survivors, including Whitmore's wife Marilyn, who is fatally wounded; she is able to see her family before she dies.
On July 4, Levinson demonstrates that the key to defeating the aliens is deactivating their force fields, and devises a way to do it using a computer virus. He suggests that the mothership must be infiltrated in order to upload the virus. He proposes disabling the mothership's force fields, using the refurbished attack ship to gain entry, and planting a nuclear bomb on board. Hiller volunteers to pilot the attacker. He and Levinson enter the mothership, upload the virus, and then deploy the nuclear missile, destroying the mothership as they escape.
With the force fields disabled, military forces around the world begin their assaults, and Whitmore orders an attack on a destroyer ship bearing down on Area 51. With military pilots in short supply, Whitmore, Casse, and others with flight experience, join the strike force with Whitmore leading them. Although the alien ship is unprotected, the attacking fighters exhaust their missiles without disabling it. The aliens prepare to fire their primary weapon. Casse has one missile left, but it jams, so he flies his plane kamikaze-style into the directed-energy weapon port, which results in an explosion that destroys the ship. Every fighting squadron learns this critical vulnerability after Area 51's military personnel announce their victory, enabling them to defeat the other destroyers. Humankind rejoices in their survival, and the wreckage of the mothership burns up, resembling a fireworks display, as it enters Earth's atmosphere.
The movie enjoys an average of 60% in critics ratings. Where it fails to deliver on story and character development, it has plenty of action scenes. The scene of the aliens destroying the White House was a technical marvel at the time and will be forever immortalised in pop culture history.