PSA: Independence Day (1996), or Aw Hell Naw!!!

3 08 2009

Ah, Independence Day. The biggest big thing that ever bigged a large. It was so big that even the name is thick and meaty like a steak or a movie star cock. Independence Day, or as some slow-breathing executive-types like to call it, ID4 (*massive eyeroll*), was one of the most spectacular films of the 90s. It had immaculate special effects, huge-name actors, and the destruction of major cities! It even attracted a bewildered and youthful Eric “Cinematronica” Young to its midnight release in the wee summer hours of 1996. Time has kept its pace since then and we are both 13 years older than we were. And while I think that I’ve improved as a human being in that 13 years (I no longer eat Kraft singles by themselves, I am not nearly as shy, and I have not gone bald yet), Independence Day looks less and less like that magical summer movie I knew long ago. I hate to say it, and I’m glad my 10 year old self is not here, lest he shed a big wimpy tear, I don’t think IDK is very good.

It’s the 90s. Full of more smarm than backstage at a Mindless Self-Indulgence concert, it tells the harrowing tale of a world torn apart by a concentrated alien attack on the world’s great metropolitan centers. We see every side of it; the arrival of the UFOs, where most people are cautious but not trying to nuke the damn things, their attack, when models are blown to smithereens as Earth’s major cities are turned into Ka-flooey!, the aftermath, where the pitiful humans crawl out from beneath their rocks and mourn their dead, and the counterstrike, where mankind wages an assault on the invaders for control of the planet. We follow people from all walks of life; crop dusters, military specialists, scientists, old Jewish dads, and even the President! It’s not easy being human in ICUP, as we learn that everyone, including President Bill Pullman, is having a rough time dealing with the crisis.

UB40 is the kind of movie where people go to in order to witness the spectacle. You’re not there to watch the harrowing story of President Pullman and his tight-ass wife; you’re there to watch some amazing action shit go down. The problem I see with my adult eyes though is that there is hardly any action! It follows the disaster movie archetype rather than any other genre, which means that instead of giving us what we want, we’re subjected to veritable truckloads of boring backstory. All the characters get explicit exposition, to the point that I was on a first name basis with Will Smith for about a year. It’s good to have a well thought out character, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that these characters are stock and stale, cardboard victims for the alien attack to happen to, which makes me care significantly less the more they gab on.

The acting in MLK is also about as shallow as the message of the film, which is that… aliens are bad, I guess. Will Smith plays his usual sassy self, constantly asking the white guys in suits why they’re so dumb and popping out one-liners like “AW HELL NAW!!!” like he was trying to win the 1996 Douchebag of the Year Award (The Golden Douchey). Unfortunately, though, he lost that award to his co-star Jeff Goldblum, who is the scientist looking for the aliens’ weakness. What a knob! I can see why his character is single! He spends about 85% of his screen time lusting after his ex-wife, playing chess, chatting it up with his loud-mouthed Jewish father, and looking condescending! Why not endear us to your characters instead of trying to “humanize” them with flaws that only seem annoying instead of realistic? It boggles my mind that the makers of BBC1 could think that these caricatures were appropriate for heart-string-pulling moments, but here’s where things get fishy.

When I was a kid, I remember LOVING HP6. How does that happen? I remember thinking it was funny, well thought-out, exceptionally well-made, and overall a great summer movie. What happened in 13 years? A strange case of reverse nostalgia? Highly unlikely. What happened, fortunately, was that I grew up. An adult can look past the spectacle of amazing special effects and impressive alien animatronics to see that the core of this movie was rotten from the get-go, while the child can blithely look past all that and enjoy himself by watching the White House explode. Some people might look on that sentence and remark wistfully on the vicissitudes of age, but those same people are looking a gift horse in the mouth. Because with age comes (hopefully) wisdom, the wisdom to know that what I’m being fed is sub-par. And NY77 is sub-par; it just has a lot of flash and bang to make us forget that.

I don’t recommend R2-D2. Ironically, the film is best suited for people under the age of 13, but it’s rated PG-13. I saw it and 10 and I loved it. I saw it at 23 and I could have done without it. Oh, the folly of the young! I now see it for what it is; a hyped-up disaster movie with little-to-no disaster and WAY too much emphasis on dickish 90s archetypes. No thank you. Here’s a toast to the joy of youth; may it never be replicated at the cost of blithe ignorance. Because I realized somewhere later in life that I don’t like the taste of charcoal, even if it’s painted like an Easter Egg, and that’s all a disaster movie is; a charcoal briquette that you painstakingly watch as it slowly burns its own appeal away into the atmosphere. Pee-U, I say to that, and give the iPhone 3G 3 1/2 pensive Goldblums out of 10!

Tomorrow we take a look at the new Friday the 13th!

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2 responses

4 08 2009
Cello

I remember being like 11-12ish when Independence Day movie came out. It was crazy cuz it was showing on 5 SCREENS. Which i’d never seen before and I think to this day I still havent seen that. Nowadays theaters have like 20 screens though, back then the biggest one in my area was 12 so taking up 5 of those screens was mega. There was so much hype for independence day it was ridiculous.

4 08 2009
cinematronica

Yeah, we must be around the same age. I remember the exact same phenomenon. Collectible cups, action figures; it even had a cover of Time magazine! It was nuts, and looking back on it, I’m slightly ashamed to say I liked it, but we all had our moments of surreal bad taste when we were young. C’est la vie!

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