Pink Fire Pointer ID4 : The Ultimate Popcorn Fest

ID4 : The Ultimate Popcorn Fest

Independence Day (aka. ID4) 1996                 ►                          4 / 5
[your rating for the movie]
  Popcorn Fest. definition: A Movie (usually a blockbuster) that aims to find the middle ground between audiences of various tastes and generally caters to the popular opinions and imaginative will.
                        equiv. terms: A similar concept in Indian films are termed 'Masala'. Hindi Cinema(bollywood) ~ bollywood masala/masala fillim & Tamil Cinema(kollywood) ~ masala padam. differences: unlike popcorn, masala isn't served to the audience per se, but denotes the one seen in the story/film on screen. Also, Hollywood prefers to make the genre an art and not compromise on the overall quality. eg., Jaws, Star Wars, The Fugitive, Die Hard, E.T., Indiana Jones etc.
[The above definitions are entirely my own and I hold full responsibility  for the same.. ;)]

  You are alone/with friends and want to spend a mindless evening consuming popcorn/chicken bucket/soda watching a flick that is a visual feast, which doesn't require much focus or intelligent thought. In the event you missed this Roland Emmerich's blockbuster offering, then do rent it/buy it/steal it, and have a roller-coaster ride with antagonistic aliens, marvelous explosions, and some wonderful performances. There's a reason why I believe ID4 (as in Independence Day-July 4) is the ultimate popcorn fest. That's the reason for the review now. Moreover, I managed to spend such a time as I've described, last weekend, which brought back nostalgic memories for the zillionth moment.

Roland with his 'E.T' inside it's 'bio-mechanical suit'
  "What if you woke up tomorrow and found a huge saucer looming in the skies?", was Roland's retort to the reporter who was pestering him if he believed in Alien intelligence or not, after the release and success of Stargate. Wondering about his own question, he found an answer in this movie, along with his producer friend Dean Devlin. Ever since then, Roland has never looked back in his spew of blockbusting, popcorn-toting, disaster-fests (except his one-odd project 'The Patriot'). It seems he may have run out of disaster plots after finally having got to destroy the Earth in 2012, and is now directing an Elizabethan political thriller 'Anonymous'. I am quite curious to see if he will manage to make it without a single explosion.

One fine Manhattan morning..

  What I love about the screenplay is that it divides the film distinctly into three clear acts.
Act 1. July 2 > U.f.o enters the earth's atmosphere. Blasts all major cities by nightfall.
Act 2.July 3 > Survivors on the run. Area 51 exists. Various sub-plots converge.
Act 3.July 4 > American/World Independence day as the world unites in it's fight for survival.
  Somewhere in all of this, you've got a career making role for Will Smith, an awesome & a cool one for Jeff Goldblum (a favorite actor of mine), a revelation of Bill Pullman as the President (one of the best in movies), Judd Hirsch as a quirky but dignified dad, and several other able supporting casts.

  There's no way I can spoil this movie for you - it's all about the experience. You know the humans/protagonists will survive at the end (fundamental rule of all popcorn fests). Conversely, aliens will get their butt-kicked. Capt. Steven Hiller (Will) actually has a line in the movie where he tells he can't wait to whoop E.T.'s ass. Another Spielberg classic is poked at when he punches 'E.T.' square on the face and remarks, a cigar clenched, "Now, that's what I'll call a Close Encounter..".

Our Liberty at stake ..
  One is a fool if one tries to bring Boolean/Newtonian logic to bear upon such a construct as the 'Popcorn fest'. Armed with that axiom, I find countless fools on and off line, debating the merits of the devices and ideas used in the movie, esp. that which helps mankind conquer the alienkind. I use, what I call as, 'popcorn logic'. It implies the artistic license that works within the movie's framework, and within a reasonable degree, in the real world.

  Take for instance, people running away from the wall of fire, blazing towards the camera. Yes, the fire has been filmed in super-slow motion. People on the other hand run in real time. It is evidently a conscious choice on the part of film-makers, and it works. Firstly, the fire that engulfs the cities, almost consistently, spread at the same speed as a jet-plane taking off from the run way (lol). It is definitely fun to watch. Also, the explosion from the ray of death or whatever, is alien in nature. Maybe it isn't as effective as our Nuclear bomb. A point further enforced in the movie's final moments. So do you now see how the popcorn logic works? Hence, the contrivances of the film-makers clearly dished out for fun, serves it's purpose to the story without annoying one or make one laugh to death (see Indy escape a nuclear blast in his latest movie venture.. sic. That's poop-corn logic!)

   If Will drives the action part of the film (mostly), then Jeff as David Levinson commands the performance bit. There are several unique and beautiful moments, as much as can be provided, between his dad (Judd Hirsch) and himself. Fondness for his dad comes off effortlessly, from Jeff's eyes, as much as his love for his estranged wife. Jeff, as an actor, commands an intelligent aura about him and makes his characters immune to any bad plots. He first commanded my attention as the 'Chaotician' in Jurassic Park. Spielberg, infact, rewrote the Lost World around his character. Sadly though, it didn't do him nor the story any justice. It is sadder realizing that, until now, only this blockbuster has come close to giving him the kind of opportunity and role that enables him to be more. His David is etched with a finesse and subtlety that instantly elevates the human drama of the film, the moment we encounter him. Notice how deftly he plays the pivotal scene of the movie - demonstrating his plan to defeat the space goons.

Empire State - a wonder of destruction
  This is a movie made for the 'Big Screen' (another requisite of a popcorn fest). One doesn't experience the same on a dvd. The action, explosions and cinematography come alive in a cinema and I was fortunate as a kid to have had this seminal experience of a good popcorn fest. This is a movie, seeing which, Spielberg decided to stop making any further alien flicks (broke the oath though with 'war of the world', and no, the latest Indy with crystal skulls doesn't have aliens - they're supposedly inter-dimensional beings). This is the mother of all disaster movies and the father of alien invasion plots. Yes, there are several plots seen before and many cliches in the film, but in no other, does it come together that effectively and make a popcorn hoggin' audience root for more. Honestly, one of those few sci-fi blockbusters, that I wished for a sequel and the film-makers have wisely not made one.
David Levinson:  A toast, to the end of the world.