Independence Day’s Impact on the Film Industry

INDEPENDENCE DAY, 1996. TM and Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved. Courtesy: Everett Collection

INDEPENDENCE DAY, 1996. TM and Copyright (c) 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved. Courtesy: Everett Collection

In 1996 the world was rocked by Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day, a gigantic science fiction action movie that redefined the term “Summer Blockbuster.” Everyone has had a different experience watching this film, which makes it so much fun to talk about. This film would go on to inspire and influence how science fiction and action films are made today. Now in 2016, twenty years later, we are about to witness the sequel to this sci-fi masterpiece Independence Day: Resurgence.

If I were to ask you what the most memorable moment from Independence Day was, there are numerous different answers. It could be the iconic image of the White House being blown up by an alien ship, Will Smith’s character punching an alien in the face and saying “Welcome to Earth”, or even the President’s inspiring speech before the climactic battle in which he tells the world “This is our Independence Day!” This movie falls under the highly quotable category that movie lovers of all ages just can’t get enough of. The formula for this film was simple: aliens + explosions + comedy + a little drama = one enjoyable two-hour and twenty-minute ride!

Movies in the 1990’s had a very unique tone to them that movies today rarely have. I still don’t know if it was just the actors of the time that made the films much more enjoyable, or if it was the smaller use of CGI and greater use of practical effects. That is one of the many reasons why so many people love Independence Day; it has a nostalgic feel to it that reminds the audience how they used to feel watching a movie before the age of computers and graphics. While some can argue that CGI gives a more realistic look to films especially in scenes of mass destruction, such as San Andreas or 2012, others would say that it looks unrealistic or like a video game.

The two most important parts of any film are the actors and the story. No matter what genre your film is or how many millions of dollars it took to make it, if you have a bad story and bad actors there is nothing that can save your movie. While Independence Day wasn’t the best movie of all time, it had its two most important bases covered. With great actors of the decade such as Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, and Randy Quaid there was plenty of great character interactions and moments.

As far as the story for this film is concerned, there are two ways to look at it. You can take the movie for what it is, a thrilling science fiction movie with a lot of explosions and action, and whatever extra excitement you gain from the story is simply a bonus. Or you can look at it as an extremely simple plotline that is very predictable and has its moments of greatness sprinkled throughout. I personally am of the first mindset and when I walk into a movie that is said to be an action sci-fi adventure, I expect to be visually amazed and I am happy if there is somewhat of a decent story involved in the process.

The 1990’s filmmakers used models of buildings and smaller scale objects to film mass destruction sequences. The famous scene from Independence Day, when the aliens unleash their attack on the major cities and buildings like the White House and the Empire State Building explodes into a giant fireball, was done mainly using models. These shots do look kind of silly to anyone used to the action movie standards of today, but to the true lovers of film it is a beautiful sequence.

With twenty years of films between these two films, what should we expect from Resurgence? From the several trailers that were released the visuals have obviously been very much upgraded to meet the standards of 2016 films. The mass destruction is completely CGI and looks terrifyingly real. There do seem to be some positive aspects to it, which most people seem to be excited about. With the introduction of new cast members like Liam Hemsworth, there are many returning cast members such as Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and Brent Spiner. The timeline of the film also seems to be accurate to how much time has passed since the original film was released too. The one part that has caused a lot of issues on the Internet is the announcement that Will Smith’s character will not be returning in this film. All we can do now is wait and see if this sequel can fill the massive mother ship-shaped shadow left by its predecessor.

Tyler considers himself to be a true lover of movies and the magic that goes into making them. He spends most of his free time watching and absorbing film and television. From a very young age, film was an escape and an adventure that Tyler could never get enough of. Throughout his high school years he had the honor of working on an award winning independent short film, hosting a film reviewing segment on a public access station, working at two movie theaters, and attending a film festival as a young journalist for his cousin’s local paper. He is the one person that would never turn down going to a theater or staying home and watching a movie and talking about it immediately after. Tyler’s goal in life is to one day be one of the great writers and directors of the entertainment industry like his hero Steven Spielberg.