Why Independence Day Is The Best Disaster Movie
Independence Day movie box art I'm not trying to say that Roland Emmerich's Independence Day is a good movie. I'm not an idiot. Okay, that's debatable but what ID4 lacks in story it makes up for in fun, something Emmerich forgot along the way in favor of what he thought we liked, disaster porn. However, disaster movies have been around since before Emmerich was taking still pictures so he can only be blamed for screwing them up. Or can he? I admit I haven't watched a lot of disaster movies but they tend to follow a similar idea. Something bad happens when nature decides to blow stuff up and an all-star cast has to survive it...only they usually don't and celebrities get to do their beloved death scenes. These things aren't exactly heavy on plot, but something about ID4 tends to stand out beyond the celebrities. This will be short but quite honestly Independence Day may well be the best disaster movie ever produced. Let me ask you a question. While both movies are mediocre at best, why do we seem to enjoy Independence Day while hold scorn towards 2012? Both are Emmerich-helmed disaster movies. One involves an alien invasion and one involves a force of nature, but they're both a form of slasher movie, only replace "masked stalker praying on horny jerk teenagers" with "nature praying on every landmark they can make a model of". It's really the same gimmick, just with a different enemy. Think about it. What do both genres tend to have in common? Unstoppable enemy finding you no matter where you hide to kill you. Various stereotypes people you want to see dead because they're annoying, jerks, or annoying jerks, except for this one couple who aren't really a couple until just before the closing credits but you will root for them because they're not total @#$%$bags Nobody learns a darn thing from their experience So what does Independence Day do that other disaster movies don't? What sets this film apart from 2012 or The Poseidon Adventure? No, not the aliens. Depending on your personal tastes of course, nobody is so big a jackass you want them dead. Even the annoying people (Randy Quaid, Judd Hersch) has something about him that you want him to either succeed or at least get over themselves (the kid who plays Quaid's son) by the end. When Quaid dies, you actually feel sorry for him and respect his noble sacrifice. Can you say that about any kid that Jason Voorhees has played stabby-stabby with? Also, the death count is surprisingly low for a disaster or alien invasion movie. Who dies in this movie? Russel Casse ... I'm talking main characters here. When Brent Spiner gets tossed around like a ragdoll he wasn't a character we'd been following and had interest in outside of the fact that he played an android for a few years. Everybody else cheats death at every opportunity, even the dog. Boomer lives in the most ridiculous way in the movie, and considering the day is saved thanks to a computer virus from a typical laptop that's saying something. But the reason everyone lives that you don't want to see anyone die. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUlIOw4-3RM While every character is a walking cliché with nothing original to them and even less personality that isn't also a cliché, they're still likable or at least not a horrible human being who needs to die already. Compare it to The Poseidon Adventure. It's been a while since I've seen it but I don't recall a character I wanted to see survive. Motivations were all self-serving. The same thing happened when Doctor Who set the same plot in a spaceship that looked like the Titanic. Then there's 2012, where even the hero should have died but since he wasn't as likable as the stripper and her dog (and of course they threw the kid in there because who wants the kid to die) so we're disappointed when something so out there even blaming God seems like a stretch to the most devout Christian saves John Cusak's life but will just laugh at the fireball that can't go through doors. In Independence Day every character is protecting someone besides themselves. If some putz shows up he's minor and nobody cares. He doesn't affect the story any so just have him there to be the dissenting opinion, and even then they would have a point if the story didn't know better. Usually you get at least one or two people we follow in a disaster movie who needs to shut up or die but in this movie? Not really because it would hurt what the story is going for, an uplifting movie where humans kick alien butt and save the world. Most disaster movies are suspenseful and ID4 does that at times. There's always that one character who finds their inner strength and overcome, and that's half the cast. Even the guy full of himself and just wants to get back to his family (Will Smith) is someone we want to see do it. Jeff Goldblum is the guy nobody listens to until it's too late because he's got his own ego issues but he learns to relax eventually. Kinda sorta. That's why I say Independence Day is the best slasher/disaster flick (best alien invasion still goes to George Pal's War Of The Worlds if you were to ask me). It replaces the usual body count of scum with fun stories of victory and overcoming adversity. When you get into the specifics it's a poorly written mess with enough plotholes to drain spaghetti with some of the best special effects practical/CG mixes can offer but it's a disaster movie I can actually enjoy more than once. Hopefully Emmerich remembers to keep the fun and likable clicharacters (clichéd characters) when the sequel hits. Hey, if Sharknado can have a sequel, why not Independence Day?