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Independence Day

a movie review by Peter Knapp and Philip Wright

Rating: Two Thumbs Up

Philip: We (Jeff and I) had a good time last night. We really enjoyed Independence Day. How did you like it?

Peter: I liked it very much. I also had a good time seeing you two, as it's been a while. Next time I'll bring some cream cheese for the smuggled-in bagels... :)

Philip: Over all, the story was good, but I thought some of it was predictable - plus there were a few holes in the script (such as Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch having no trouble getting out of NYC, while Harvey Fierstien is stuck in traffic).

Peter: That's an understatement. Then again, I had read extensively about the movie beforehand, so I knew a lot about the story going in. The producers intentionally paid homage to countless genre films, so by definition many parts of the movie should have been familiar. They've both stated that they wrote a "disaster movie of the '70's"-style of story, with lots of characters, some of which would die. A disaster sci-fi epic is bound to be predictable. As far as holes, there definitely were a few. Fireballs are preceded by incredible waves of heat. The people and cars in the attacked cities would be melting long before they were engulfed by flame. And that service area in the tunnel that the stripper, her son, and their dog ran into - can you say "toast"?

Philip: Dispite all that, I will applaud some of the acting. I was actually impressed with Will Smith's performance - something you're not likely to hear me say often. And Judd Hirsch was incredible as the comic-relief/foil for Jeff Goldblum (and almost everyone else).

Peter: Ditto. I thought Will Smith was okay in Six Degrees of Separation, but he really did a good job in this movie. Rob commented that he thought Jeff Goldblum and Harvey Fierstien's characters were supposed to be funny together. He didn't think the chemistry worked, and I agree. Chemistry that did work was between Judd Hirsch and Jeff Goldblum's characters. Fierstien playing the stereotypical homosexual just got in the way of Goldblum's character; but Hirsch's playing the stereotypical Jewish father complemented Goldblum's character nicely.

Philip: I agree 100% about Jeff and Harvey. In fact, I think Harvey Fierstien was a last-minute addition in hope of covering ALL of the social bases. The special effects, I felt, were excellent, despite the acrid remarks about them by several critics. And I totally disagree with the assessment of one reviewer who thought the ships were "just like every other alien invader craft we've ever seen."

Peter: Especially in the opening. The mother ship was asymmetrical and huge, unlike countless saucer-shaped UFOs.

Philip: The twist at the end (an Area 51 saucer helping our heroes) was clever, but a little contrived.

Peter: You'll get no argument from me on this point.

Philip: But over all, I thought the film was well worth the price of admission; and I'd recommend it to anyone, even if he/she isn't able to find a bargain showing. Independence Day entertains even the most jaded audience; and you come out of the theater feeling good!

Peter: Much, much better than Twister and Mission Impossible combined.

Philip and Peter: Two thumbs up!

[Editorial addendum: Except in Japan, apparently. Some panel members at one of the Japanese fandom panels I attended at Worldcon in Anaheim didn't think ID4 would be receiving rave reviews in Japan. As far as I can remember, no one pursued the subject of why not.]

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