Independence Day-Come on Guys Talk to a Scientist!
now available on Blu-Ray
Those of you who have read other of my reviews realize I am rather focused on the budget of a film. The budget tells you much more than many initially realize. For example, it illuminates how much the studio believed in the project at hand. By this I mean did they use every dollar wisely, did they hire people that made the most of the money? If the film is a big budget extravaganza did the CG artists, prop makers, art directors and so forth, go that extra mile?
Often, when results seem to exceed the budget at hand it is partly due to the fact that the army of talented people that work under a director respected that director and went that extra mile. Any “boss” can force his people to rise to a particular standard to appease him but people usually only go beyond expectations or demands when they respect the person in charge and have been treated with respect. Often, all of this information can be gleaned from the money that went into a project and the results on the screen. This ratio speaks volumes about all involved.
Yes, with all that said, Independence Day is campy summer fun, but one must keep this in mind, the budget was $70-$80 million dollars and yet the film feels much larger than the dollar amount that went into it. Director Roland Emmerich of Stargate fame, must of had the respect of those working with him on Independence Day. There are quite a few folks on this project that deserve special nods, Karl Walter Lindenlaub, who served as director of photography on the project and art director William Teegarden both made outstanding contributions as did visual effects supervisor Volker Engel.
The story is a summer movie at its best. Aliens show up in big ships and kick the stuffing out of earth. Our weapons are useless due to the force fields around the alien crafts. We also learn that we’ve known that “they” were out there for quite a while and this evidence was being kept at Area 51 which plays a vital role in the film. On July 4, mankind strikes back, thus the name, and a bit of a spoiler, but not too much.
Bill Pulman as President Whitmore does a great job with the role, as does Will Smith who plays Steven Hiller a Marine officer and pilot who plays a pivotal role. Other performances will probably get on some people’s nerves in particular Judd Hirsch and Jeff Goldblum. Both of their respective characters are just too much together and it added too much campiness at times. But overall, the acting is good within the confines of a movie that is smart enough not to take itself too seriously.
Logic errors and science errors abound and are well documented. Which does bring up one of my “pet peeves” as I am constantly annoyed by how often massive logic errors slip pass the writers of large Hollywood scripts. Part of the way to solve this problem is to consult with scientists regarding the logical and scientific feasability of a given technology or situation. The increase in budget would be very minimal and this simple step would prevent much embarrassment and criticism.
Yes, it is called show “business” and a film should be treated as such, as a business, meaning you take care, patience and due diligence when producing a product that will be consumed by the public. As professionals, it is vital that entertainment industry executives demand accuracies in what they portray on screen. Hiding being the “its Hollywood baby, its all about illusion,” is fine, but not at the expense of logic, doing so is simply pandering to the lowest common denominator and nullifies any attempts to claim that Hollywood is seeking to not only make money but promote a given social agenda. In other words, treating some films “seriously” and other films as fluff, especially when large budgets are involved is a little hypocritical and short sited, especially when one considers the tiny increase in budgets that adding a technical consultant would cost.
That said, I do not want to create a misunderstanding that the scientific and logic errors found in Independence Day are somehow exceptionally bad, as that is not the case, for this is an epidemic within the entertainment industry and a sad one. As more and more people are becoming scientifically aware and savvy the industry is placing its overall credibility at risk.
Independence Day, overall, delivers exactly what you expect, it is good escapism and fun for a couple of hours. The budget to product on the screen ratio is very high, which no doubt played a key role in the wildly successful numbers at the box office. I only wish that writers Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich would have went the extra mile and consulted scientist before putting the last dot on the page.
Visuals A (Some top notch visuals.)
Enjoyability Grade B+
Home Theater/HD Factor A
Overall Grade B