Can the Success of the Blockbuster Movie Independence Day (1996) Be Repeated?

Independence Day Movie Poster (1996)With summer coming upon us once again, it is time to watch my favorite movie of all time, Independence Day.  I call Independence Day my favorite movie of all time, because I never get tired of watching it.

I heard recently that there was sequel to Independence Day in the works, and frankly, I do not see how it would be possible to make another movie with all of the elements that make the 1996 movie so great.  And to do a sequel that would sully the first movie is just a shame.

Independence Day is almost the perfect movie.  It has so many elements that add together to make it great.  It is full of great actors that manage to blend together, and yet still have distinct personalities for their characters that make them memorable.  The unlikely hero combination of Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith was an excellent casting combination, and the interaction between the different characters that made it into the final movie leads me to think of many ad libs that were probably added during the filming.

Judd Hirsh’s (Julius Levinson) wonderful line when everyone is praying, “Nobody is perfect,” makes me laugh every time I hear it.  Hirsh’s character is perfectly played, from the love and annoyance, to the encouragement of his son.  It is right in character that the the typical father’s worry that his son will get catch a cold, turns into the idea that Jeff Goldblum’s character uses to create a computer virus which ends up saving the planet.  And how about Jeff Goldblum’s quirky character.  His ambitions to be part of a loving couple are not enough for his ambitious ex-wife, yet his insistence on saving the planet, meshes perfectly with job to help save the planet from the alien invasion.

While it is obvious that some of the characters’ circumstances have to be contrived to be able to have some heroic happy ending at the end, it is still true that Bill Pullman’s President Whitmore does not win the day with his family intact.  The fact that some of the heroes die, some of the most influential heroes come from unlikely sources like Randy Quaid’s character, and some do not survive, make Independence Day a much more moving story to watch.

Independence manages to take the film goer through the gamut of emotions.  Humor, sympathy, fear, thrill, adrenaline rush, pride.

You feel the frustration in Will Smith’s Captain Steven Hiller’s voice, when he is declined from the NASA astronaut training program, you swell with pride during Bill Pullman’s Independence Day speech to the pilots before they make the last stand against the aliens.  I am amazed every time that I watch Independence Day again, how much emotion I can still feel for the characters even having watched the movie so many times.

The writers of Independence Day created a successful movie because they managed to write a masterpiece that included enough humor, enough humanity, and enough unique characters to make a movie that would not grow old over time.


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