Monday, June 25, 2012

Aliens Invade, Summer Vacationers Beware!

I was thinking of going to Chicago for days 4 and 5 of my vacation this year, but I decided a few weeks ago that I really didn't want to drive and flying is really not my thing.  It's not that I hate flying, I just can't say as I enjoy it either.  There was always the train route but it leaves from Newton, KS (just north of me) at two in the morning and I really don't want to stay up that late just to catch a train.  If I was going to go for a longer period of time, it may have been worth it, but for two days, I'll skip it as well.  So for day four, I'm still in Wichita, KS and by now I'm probably doing everything I can to avoid cleaning the house.  I'm not one that really enjoys down time, though when I decide to do it, it always sounds like a good idea.  So today I may drive up to McPherson to visit my old college and take in lunch at the Main Street Deli, best broccoli and cheese soup in a bread bowl I've ever had. And since I've gone that far, I may drive up to Lindsborg to visit Coronado Heights.  What, you guys have never heard of it?  Well supposedly, it's the hill that Francisco Vasquez de Coronado gave up on his journey for the Seven Cities of Gold.  There is a castleish structure on the hill now, but the view is amazing.  It's another place I haven't been to in a while, so a trip may be in order.

Now I hope the post title didn't make you guys panic too much.  Aliens really aren't invading, at least not that I know of.  But the title does foreshadow the post you are about to read.  Yvette of in so many words... was gracious enough, though I'm sure she has no other way of being, to step up and write a terrific post about one of her favorite summer movies.  Now for those of you who don't know Yvette, let me tell you that she loves her movies.  Her blog is one of those that is a feast for the eyes every time I head on over.  Besides being a book blogger, Yvette posts movie reviews (especially older movies that deserve the recognition), and has an art feature that I never miss.  Her blog is one of those that even if I'm tired and just worked a 13 hour shift, I know that I will be perked up by her newest post.  I'm pretty sure that if you visit her blog today, it will quickly make your list of favorite blogs.

Last year Ryan asked me to do a guest post on his blog while he was away living it up on holiday. I was only too happy to help. I must not have done a bad job because he’s asked me again this year and here we are. The theme is summer in any way shape or form so, I’m writing about what is to me, the quintessential summer movie: INDEPENDENCE DAY starring Will Smith, Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum and directed by Roland Emmerich.

 ‘On July 2nd, they arrive. On July 3rd, they strike. On July 4th, we fight back.”

I’m not usually a blockbuster kind of gal (most especially a ‘let’s see how many ways we can destroy the earth’ type of blockbuster), so my liking for this movie continues to amaze me. But summer is the season for blockbusters and 1996 was no exception. At the urging of my daughter, I reluctantly went to see INDEPENDENCE DAY and damn if she wasn’t right: it’s a terrific movie. I was completely won over by Will Smith and the rest of the exceptional cast. Most especially the occasionally odd-seeming Jeff Goldblum, a quirky actor with his own unique screen presence and Bill Pullman whose ‘white bread’conservative look served him perfectly as the hesitant President of the United States who eventually shows his mettle and helps win the day.

I’m actually surprised that here it is, 2012, and so far no sequels forthcoming, but maybe that’s just as well - turns out though that a re-mastered 3-D version of the original film will be out in theaters in July of 2013. Just recently found that out online.

When I think of Will Smith in his original television show, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, it’s still hard for me to imagine how he morphed into this larger than life leading man in one of the more iconic movie extravaganzas ever made. But there he was (and still is) – up on the screen, a commanding presence owning every scene he’s in. It is his insouciant charm, I believe, which makes Smith such a likable actor.

 The plot: When aliens decide to colonize earth, death and destruction follow. The aliens’ powerful space ships flash death-dealing rays which turn everything in their path into gigantic fire balls. The end of the world as we know it seems all but a done deal. These aliens are as different from us as we must appear to the earth’s insect population. They are definitely not E.T. nice guys.

The exceptional and truly rapacious special effects showing the aliens’ destructive powers are very well done, frighteningly so. Particularly good is the blowing up of the Capital and the White House – two events guaranteed to raise the ire of even the most lackadaisical American movie-viewer. I admit it, my hair stood on end. I mean, how DARE they!? And over the July 4th weekend, too.

The President and his advisors barely escape with their lives but unfortunately, the President’s wife (played by Mary McDonnell) isn’t as lucky. Just when all hope is lost and it appears as if most of the population of earth will be burnt to a crisp even while the few pockets of humans that remain frantically try to come up with a workable defense – in steps Jeff Goldblum’s character, David Levinson, a disgraced scientist turned cable technician who thinks outside the box and can’t help getting in trouble because of it. He’s figured out a way to stop the invasion if only he can convince the authorities. His theory is a bit silly and simplistic, but what the heck, it sounds good and what have they got to lose?

He’ll need the help of a fearless pilot to fly the alien ship lying in stasis in, of all places, Area 51 – that mysterious western site where it is rumored the government has secretly stashed a space ship. Guess what – it’s true, at least, in this script. That’s where the President and his remaining cabinet and advisors head and where we run into a crack-pot, wild-haired, loony-toons scientist played by Brent Spiner – ex Lieutenant Data on Star Trek, The Next Generation.

The fearless pilot is, of course Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith), who volunteers to man the alien ship. He and David will have to dock with the giant mother ship (she controls the alien forces) and slip the mother a mickey. Basically, that’s it. Of course, there’s a lot of impressive footage of jets flying about and being blown up as convoys of air force pilots make futile attempts to fight the aliens with conventional weapons. Even the President - once a pilot always a pilot - flies into the fray. But the build-up to the final KAPUT is nail-bitingly impressive and even, in spots, oddly amusing.

INDEPENDENCE DAY is a lot of fun, the humans are likable, the aliens are not. It’s all preposterous but perfectly in keeping with the idea that summer is for flip flops, blowing things up and popcorn.

Now that I’ve written this, I’m suddenly in the mood to watch INDEPENDENCE DAY yet again. Time to adjust my movie queue.


Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Oh I love that movie - great reminder to get that one lined up for the upcoming festivities.

Yvette said...

I watched it again over the weekend, Sheila. Writing about it reminded me just how much I enjoyed it. It's a keeper. :)

picky said...

It's been ages since I watched that movie, but I remember loving it so much.

I definitely need to re-watch it.

Michelle Stockard Miller said...

I really liked this movie too. It was a lot of fun and always gotta love Jeff Goldblum!

Yvette said...

You definitely do, Picky. It's such a good film of its kind. And it's always fun to watch Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum. Love 'em.

Yvette said...

Michelle, isn't he a scream? Such a quirky guy.

Ryan said...

I have only seen this movie once, when it first came out. I think I liked it, but don't really remember now. I may have to watch it again this summer to see what I think.

Thanks Yvette! As always you were brilliant!