Everyone has seen it, everybody knows it, and it kind of represents the day that we are celebrating right now.
Independence Day stars Will Smith as Ace Pilot Captain Steve Hiller, USMC in a role that is almost universally played by a white man. In a time where we have hundreds of movies coming out starring white men in lead roles, here comes Will Smith pointing out to the world that he’s here and he’s not afraid to play traditionally white male lead roles.
Before, I mentioned that everybody knows this film and that is absolutely true. The White House is blown up alongside the Empire State Building, the pyramids of Giza, and other miscellaneous buildings that people don’t really know about… killing thousands upon thousands of adults with absolutely no children present! Monumental destruction is taken to its logical extreme, because aliens clearly wouldn’t want to blow up an elementary school to make us feel worse about their attacks.
Watching this movie over again, the cheesy CGI, the dramatically bad acting, and the convenient escapes that action films are known for if you happen to have your name on the poster! This is actually a good thing, though, never forget what I have said about genre films. They have their place, a niche in our hearts that drives us to continue to shell out six to twelve dollars every week. Will Smith, back when he was a bona fide actor who didn’t have creative control over his work, is great in this role.
The supporting cast has their place, starting with Bill Pullman (Spaceballs) as our President, Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park) as an MIT graduate and expert on stuff (because science absolutely has a place in our action movies), and Mary McDonnell (currently seen on Major Crimes and always in my heart) as our beloved First Lady. Add in dozens of nameless people acting in cabinet positions amongst a myriad of named armed forces members, reminding us the comparative importance based on who’s the lead.
Traditionally white male lead roles are still the norm, but it was a nice change of pace in the nineties to have something that steps away from the norm.
Check this out today, because it’s totally inappropriate every other day of the year! And with a sequel coming out, who knows what will happen?