Director: Roland Emmerich
Writers: Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich
Stars: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum
Released: July 3rd 1996
Budget: $75 Million
Worldwide Gross: $218 Million+
Also Known As: ID4
...and should we win today the 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday but as the day when the world declared in one voice, “We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight. We’re going to live on. We’re going to survive. Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”
These words are part of quite possibly the greatest, if not one of the greatest speeches, in cinema history. It belongs to the 1996 underrated masterpiece, Independence Day. My first memory of this movie was in VHS form a couple years after its theatrical release; and every time I watch it, now, I hate that I was never able to experience it on the big screen for the first time. My only hope is that one day a movie theatre will do a special double feature or something. This year, on the 4th of July, we released a special episode discussing the movie. Well, like I said in the episode, I watched it again last night. That sparked me to write this blog. After watching the first one and then following it with the second one this morning, I have changed my mind about something. I DO NEED A THIRD INSTALLMENT.
Does the majority of the world agree? No, but me personally, I need to see the end of this story and these characters' stories. It could also work as an episodic special on Disney+ or Hulu; now that they have the rights to the IP. I could see it as something like Mando or Stranger Things; not many episodes, but quality action and story telling to finish it up. Then...boom. We are done with the story that is Independence Day...that is until they reboot the franchise in 10 years or so...or you could give it the Halloween or Ghostbusters treatment. In a couple years you release a Legacy sequel to it that completely ignores the second installment and brings back the OG characters, INCLUDING Will Smith. Either way, I would like to see an end do this franchise; a proper ending.
Why is this movie an unsung hero / underrated masterpiece of the 90's? Oh, I will tell you. The characters, the action, the timing, the visuals, the quotes...all of it. Again, these are my thoughts and feelings. They are not law, and you are allowed to disagree, but I would imagine most of the world, especially my generation, would agree. So after you read this I want to hear your thoughts. What were your first memories of this movie? What are your thoughts? What are your favorite and least favorite moments of the movie? Do you quote it, as much as I do? You can hit us up in the comment below the blog or reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope you enjoy the blog and hope you will go back and listen to the episode. You can find us on your favorite podcast platform
On July 2nd, communications systems worldwide are sent into chaos by a strange atmospheric interference. It is soon learned by the military that a number of enormous objects are on a collision course with Earth. At first thought to be meteors, they are later revealed to be gigantic spacecraft, piloted by a mysterious alien species. After attempts to communicate with the aliens go nowhere, David Levinson, an ex-scientist turned cable technician, discovers that the aliens are going to attack major points around the globe in less than a day. On July 3rd, the aliens all but obliterate New York, Los Angeles and Washington, as well as Paris, London, Houston and Moscow. The survivors set out in convoys towards Area 51, a strange government testing ground where it is rumored the military has a captured alien spacecraft of their own. The survivors devise a plan to fight back against the enslaving aliens, and July 4th becomes the day humanity will fight for its freedom. July 4th is their Independence Day...
Let's talk about the cast and characters. Obviously the top billed are Will Smith as Captain Steve Hillar, Bill Pullman as President Whitmore, and Jeff Goldblum as David Levinson. However, here are a few more of the names and faces you see in this star studded movie. I think that is one thing that misses in today's movies and other entertainment outlets. The star power of the entire ensemble. In the 90s, even role B and C were well known names, but I digress. Some of the others include Mary McDonell as First Lady Whitmore, Judd Hirsch as Julius Levinson, Robert Loggia as General Grey, Randy Quaid as Russell Casse, Harry Connick Jr as Rev, Margret Collin as Connie, and the list goes on and on and on. Hell, Brent Spiner, Data himself, is in this movie...and who could forget the very gorgeous, Vivica A. Fox. It also reminds me that the 90s might have been one of the last generations where movies and stars were this big thing. Maybe it was because we didn't have social media or knew every little thing about each actor or actress. We didn't know their political beliefs, their favorite foods, if they went to the bathroom that day, or everything else that things like Twitter opens us up to. We also live in a time where they wouldn't have had to, actually, go to all these locations to film. In the movie, they actually are seen and active in multiple cities across the country.
The characters are cool too. Josh made one really valid point, in our episode, when he said that the older we have gotten, the more I have become a fan of President Whitmore and David. When I was younger, I thought being like Hiller was cooler, but the way that David could get in their minds and plot and strategize makes him more intriguing to me and I think makes him just as dangerous, if not more dangerous than Hiller is with a gun or a ship. I will say, also, that someone that is just as bad or as dangerous as the aliens is that sleazy member of Whitmore's cabinet, the one who knew about the aliens and goes against the best decisions and common interest of the planet. Sleazy political suits... dangerous stuff. I also enjoy the little bit that Harry Connick Jr plays as Hiller's buddy The Rev. Idk what kins of Southern accent he is doing, but he is funny. It's a shame he dies so soon. The crazy thing that still gets me is how young this cast looks, and how many of them still look so ageless today. An unsung character and the one that steals it for me, personally, is David's Father, Julius. The incomparable Judd Hirsch is brilliant in this movie. His mannerisms, his delivery, his faces he makes, and just his overall honing in of the character is phenomenal. I think these characters are part of the reason people watch this one over and over again.
Another thing that delivers in this movie, especially for the time it was released, was the outstanding look of the film. The fx and overall look and feel of Independence Day was something that we weren't really used to in '96. A lot of the stuff that was fake looked more real than some of the stuff that comic book movies and other action movies give us today. There is also a certain feel or vibe to this movie that is just not done anymore today. The lighting, the camera work, the cinematography, and sets aren't done like this anymore. It's all CGI and Blue Screens and massive digital sets. Sci-Fy, today, wouldn't go this far to deliver. This was one of the last hoorah of the genre. To me, at least, it seems like the farther we got away from Y2K, the genre of Science Fiction stopped delivering things like this movie. Now, it's all Comic Book movies, Disney animation, and Fast and Furious movies Don't get me wrong, even if you think it is a dumb movie, you have to admit that it is a perfect "Blockbuster." The effects stand the test of time, the pacing is great, the lines are quotable, the action is brilliant and even the characters and performances are immaculate.
Let's not forget that the writers and director of this wanted to create something that both paid homage to the invasion movies of old, like War of The Worlds; and brought an invasion movie of note to our generation. In my opinion, they not only did that, but exceeded that goal. Independence Day is still to this day one of the more noted Science Fiction / Invasion movies of the last few decades. In fact, if adjusted for inflation, Independence Day sits at $1,584,408,417.96 in 2023 money. This still has it in the top 10 highest grossing movies of all time. If it isn't adjust for inflation, it's still in the top 100 highest grossing movies of all time. This movie balances uplifting moments, comedy, fear, sadness, action, and so much more into one package. It shows us how a world full of differences from all walks of life, all religions, all races, and all creeds; if we all came together, there is no telling what we could do. It celebrates the differences of each character. A President, a fighter, a technician, a father, a stripper, a drunk crop-duster, a general, and the rest of this motley crew of Earthlings come together, no matter the place in life; and save our planet. It shows that if you will just zoom out from all of your daily stuff, you will see that we are ONE WORLD. You think you live in the US and it's just about you? ZOOM OUT! You'r on a rock floating through space. if something happens to one side of the planet...just wait...it'll happen to you soon. We can do anything, if we just come together.
Well, I feel like I have said a lot. That's all the talking I will do on this. Thank you for taking the time to read this. Let us know what you think. Also, I will include some fun trivia of fun facts and unknown Nerdledge for the movie so you may use one day. You never know when someone will ask you this or if any of these facts will help you win trivia one day. So enjoy!
According to producer/co-writer Dean Devlin, the U.S. military had agreed to support the film by allowing the crew to film at military bases, consulting the actors who have military roles, etc. However, after learning of the Area 51 references in the script, they withdrew their support.
(at around 1h 7 mins) The scene in which Will Smith drags the unconscious alien across the desert was filmed on the salt flats near Great Salt Lake in Utah. Smith's line, "And what the hell is that *smell*?" was unscripted. Great Salt Lake is home to tiny crustaceans called brine shrimp. When they die, the bodies sink to the bottom of the lake (which isn't very deep) and decompose. When the wind kicks up just right, the bottom mud is disturbed and the smell of millions of decaying brine shrimp can be very, very bad. Apparently, nobody warned Will.
Holds the record for most miniature model work to appear in one film. Model shop supervisor Michael Joyce estimated that more miniatures were used for this film than in any other two films combined. Due to the advances in digital technology since this film's release, most experts believe this record may stand forever.
Director Roland Emmerich was notified one day that Robert Loggia was very upset and refusing to leave his trailer. Several days earlier, producer Dean Devlin accidentally suggested to Loggia that he watch Airplane! (1980) for inspiration when he actually intended to suggest Airport (1970). Not familiar with either film, Loggia rented Airplane! and after watching it thought that he had unknowingly been participating in the production of a "spoof" movie.
The Roswell Crash Wreckage was taken to Wright Patterson Airforce Base, not Area 51, however, as any military historian and possibly almost all the UFO people know, the debris' trail is lost after Wright Patterson. This is, in fact, the very reason Area 51 became a hotbed of UFO conspiracies, many conspiracy theorists stating that, since it was so secluded, it was the most likely place where it ended up.