The highest grossing movie of 1996 was the alien invasion blockbuster directed by Roland Emmerich. Independence Day featured the destruction of national monuments including the White House and the Empire State Building. Will Smith stars as Captain Steven Hiller, a fast-talking and even faster-flying fighter pilot alongside Jeff Goldblum, who was coming off of the 1993 highest grossing movie Jurassic Park, as the cable guy David Levinson.
From the first shot of an alien spaceship hovering over the moon toward Earth, this movie set a precedent for iconic invasion imagery. Bill Pullman plays President Whitmore, a retired fighter pilot. Pullman does a decent job as a president out of his depth with this new threat. He also delivers the most memorable speech prior to the final spaceship versus jets battle scene.
The most memorable part of this movie was the alien assault on the major cities creating a devastating explosion that tears through the city flipping over cars and annihilating unprepared pedestrians. The destruction doesn't knock out all of humanity however and after a few failed attempts Goldblum's science genius character stumbles onto a virus that can disable the enemy shields.
There are some strong human moments in this film that brought down the big explosions and destruction to a human level with Vivica A. Fox playing Will Smith's character's stripper girlfriend running from the explosion, Randy Quaid as a previously abducted crop duster with a family escaping the chaos in a trailer, Judd Hirsch as Goldblum's character's dad, and Margaret Colin as the same character's ex-wife who is also an aide to the president.
There are a lot of fighter plane action scenes throughout that provide the most excitement as the humans fight back against the aliens. The alien looked cool even back then. Revisiting this movie twenty years later, the special effects don't look so terrible though the raging, destructive fires weren't as impressive as my childhood mind remembered. I'm curious to see how the sequel follows up on this successful box office hit.