Finally, science fiction the way it used to be: rousing, cosmically xenophobic and ferociously patriotic. Forget E.T. and his cuddly ilk. INDEPENDENCE DAY's bellicose aliens want our Earth and intend to squash us like bugs -- bugs! -- to get
it. It's up to a ragtag band of can-do Americans, ranging from the President (Bill Pullman) to a drunken crop-duster pilot (Randy Quaid), to rally our spirits and save our bacon.
An engaging cast of second-tier talent -- Jeff Goldblum, Will Smith, Judd Hirsch et al. -- is on hand, and the lack of superstars works to the picture's advantage. Whereas Arnold, Tom or Sly would have to come out alive, these journeyman actors could bite the dust at any moment, and a surprising
number of them do. For once, as a result, something's really at stake in all those white-knuckle suspense scenes.
If the writer/director team of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich made some engagingly loopy moves in STARGATE, here they play genre conventions dead straight and make them work. Thumbnail sketches of the dozen or so principal characters are executed quickly and efficiently, so you actually care a
little when they're imperiled. The aliens, meanwhile, are a fabulously nasty lot of slimy, tentacled, malevolent telepaths, but all their superior technology is no match for our red, white and blue ingenuity. Take that, space bullies!
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