Get ready for Resurgence with a look back at the first Independence Day story
Independence Day, the 1996 sci-fi disaster film from director Roland Emmerich (Stargate, The Day After Tomorrow), touted Fourth of July weekend fun as the film also took place around our national Independence Day but with, you know, an alien invasion. The film ended up becoming a huge blockbuster, grossing over $817.4 million worldwide. The movie would go on to usher in the age of more big-scale action disaster movies and was 1996’s highest-grossing film.
The Independence Day story combined tropes from beloved invasion films that came before but combined them with 90s action sensibilities. It gave us more Jeff Goldblum and more Will Smith as ‘muricans helping lead the charge against a war on an alien race that had a thing for blowing up national landmarks.
When an alien mothership enters Earth’s atmosphere and unleashes a wave of smaller ships that destroys major landmarks around the world, a small band of survivors find themselves becoming humanity’s last hope.
Jeff Goldblum stars as David Levinson, an MIT tech guy who intercepted the satellite signals before the aliens’ coordinated attack but was unable to get to President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) in time to evacuate the millions of lives lost in the first wave against humanity. David, his former wife, his father, the first family and White House staff narrowly escape.
During the first counter strike ordered by global military leaders, a squadron of F/A-18 Hornets assaults an alien ship near the ruins of LA, but they find that it’s impossible to penetrate its force field. In response, the big ship releases dozens of small attacker ships that also have the same impenetrable force field around them, leading to a dog fight between humans and aliens with an advantage. The humans all but fail and are survived by Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith), who lures the alien tailing him into the grand canyon to trick him into crash landing when he sacrifices his plane. He drags the alien out of the wreckage of its ship in all of his smack-talking glory. “I COULD HAVE BEEN AT A BARBECUE!”
Hiller hitches a ride with a Vietnam vet Russell Casse (Randy Quaid), who also happens to have been an alien abduction survivor. Together they take the alien’s unconscious body to Area 51, where the President has landed. They learn the truth about the government knowing aliens are real and that they’ve been housing one of the smaller attacker ships for decades. While there, they realize that the mothership being in close proximity activates the ship they have. Dr. Okun (Brent Spiner) removes the bio-mechanical suit off the alien body that was brought in and gets attacked. Speaking through the scientist, the alien communicates to the President that humanity is doomed and tortures him with a psychic metal grip. Secret service agents kill the alien and the President reveals that during the mental attack, he saw aliens travel from place to place to exterminate all living things.
Vowing to nuke the aliens, the President of the United States orders another strike but that doesn’t work out too well as the “bastard’s” force field took the heat while the city below was obliterated. Jasmine (Vivica A. Fox) reunites with Hiller, her significant other, when he locates her and their son along with the First Lady who she rescued. Unfortunately, the first lady sustained internal injuries which led to her death. From tragedy, the survivors stick together to not let the aliens win.
On the third day of the invasion, July Fourth, Levinson figures out that the key to defeat the aliens lies in deactivating their force fields. He creates a virus to upload into their tech system but realizes that in order to infiltrate the mothership, they have to use the attacker ship in their possession. Hiller volunteers to pilot the ship and takes Levinson up to the mothership with a nuke in tow. The scenes between Smith and Goldblum are mint 90s buddy banter. Goldblum essentially playing himself as a charismatic engineer and Smith being the bad ass hero with always something to say.
They successfully get in and upload the virus, deploy the missile and manage to escape the blast. With the Mothership now severely damaged, the military of the world assembles to launch its final wave to take out all alien life. Even the President and Casse join the strike force. They give it all they’ve got and as the alien ship prepares to fire their primary weapon, Casse flies into the energy port, sacrificing himself in order to destroy the alien ship from the inside.
The glory of the mothership falling apart is celebrated like quite the Fourth of July spectacular around the world. Humanity rejoices and our heroes reunite to live another day. That is until this summer’s release of Independence Day: Resurgence, in which the aliens come back with a vengeance and the Independence Day story continues…