Independence Day

Critics Consensus

The plot is thin and so is character development, but as a thrilling, spectacle-filled summer movie, Independence Day delivers.



Total Count: 71


Audience Score

User Ratings: 977,345
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Movie Info

A group of intrepid humans attempts to save the Earth from vicious extraterrestrials in this extremely popular science-fiction adventure. Borrowing liberally from War of the Worlds, Aliens, and every sci-fi invasion film inbetween, director Roland Emmerich and producer and co-writer Dean Devlin present a visually slick, fast-paced adventure filled with expensive special effects and large-scale action sequences. The story begins with the approach of a series of massive spaceships, which many on Earth greet with open arms, looking forward to the first contact with alien life. Unfortunately, these extraterrestrials have not come in peace, and they unleash powerful weapons that destroy most of the world's major cities. Thrown into chaos, the survivors struggle to band together and put up a last-ditch resistance in order to save the human race. As this is a Hollywood film, this effort is led by a group of scrappy Americans, including a computer genius who had foreseen the alien's evil intent (Jeff Goldblum), a hot-shot jet pilot (Will Smith), and the President of the United States (Bill Pullman). While some critics objected to the film's lack of originality and lapses in logic, the combination of grand visual spectacle and crowd-pleasing storytelling proved irresistible to audiences, resulting in an international smash hit. ~ Judd Blaise, Rovi

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Will Smith
as Capt. Steven Hiller
Bill Pullman
as President Thomas J. Whitmore
Jeff Goldblum
as David Levinson
Mary McDonnell
as Marilyn Whitmore
Judd Hirsch
as Julius Levinson
Margaret Colin
as Constance Spano
Randy Quaid
as Russell Casse
Robert Loggia
as Gen. William Grey
James Rebhorn
as Albert Nimziki
Harvey Fierstein
as Marty Gilbert
Adam Baldwin
as Major Mitchell
Brent Spiner
as Dr. Brakish Okun
Vivica A. Fox
as Jasmine Dubrow
Lisa Jakub
as Alicia
Mae Whitman
as Patricia Whitmore
Bill Smitrovich
as Captain Watson
John Storey
as Dr. Isaacs
Leland Orser
as Tech/Med. Asst. No. 1
David Pressman
as Whitmore's Aide
Vivian Palermo
as Tech/Med. Asst. No. 2
Raphael Sbarge
as Commander/Tech
Bobby Hosea
as Commanding Officer
Dan Lauria
as Commanding Officer
Steve Giannell
as Radar Tech
Eric Paskel
as Radar Tech
Carlos La Camara
as Radar Operator
John Bennett Perry
as Secret Serviceman
Troy Willis
as Secret Serviceman
Tim Kelleher
as Technician
Wayne Wilderson
as Area 51 Technician
Jay Acovone
as Area 51 Guard
James Wong
as SETI Tech One
Thom Barry
as SETI Tech Two
Jana Marie Hupp
as SETI Tech Three
Matt Pashkow
as Second Officer
Robert Pine
as Chief of Staff
Marisa Morell
as Co-Worker No. 2
Michael Winther
as Co-Worker No. 3
Dexter Warren
as Co-Worker No. 4
Paul LeClair
as Co-Worker No. 5
David Chanel
as Secret Service Agent
Greg Collins
as Military Aide
Derek Webster
as Sky Crane Pilot
Mark Fite
as Pilot
as Russian Pilot
Kristof Konrad
as Russian Pilot
Kevin Sifuentes
as Tank Commander
Randy Oglesby
as Mechanic
Jack Moore
as Mechanic
Barry Del Sherman
as Street Preacher
Lyman Ward
as Secret Service Guy
Barbara Beck
as Monica Soloway
Joe Fowler
as Reporter
Andrew Warne
as Reporter
Sharon Tay
as Reporter
Peter Jozef Lucas
as Russian Reporter
Yelena Danova
as Russian Newscaster
Derek Kim
as Korean Newscaster
Vanessa J. Wells
as Newscaster
Jessika Cardinahl
as German Video Newscaster
Gary W. Cruz
as Video Newscaster
Steve Giannelli
as Radar Technician
Ron Pitts
as Video Newscaster
Wendy Walsh
as Video Newscaster
Christine Devine
as Video Newscaster
Mark Thompson
as Video Newscaster
Jack Germond
as Video Newscaster
Jon Mathews
as Thomson
Morton Kondracke
as Video Newscaster
Ernie Anastos
as Rex Black/NY Newscaster
Cinckevin Cooney
as Atlantic Air
Rance Howard
as Chaplain
Nelson Mashita
as Japanese Tech
Jeff Phillips
as B-2 Pilot
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News & Interviews for Independence Day

Critic Reviews for Independence Day

All Critics (71) | Top Critics (22) | Fresh (46) | Rotten (25)

  • A sci-fi story constellation of the brightest star elements. With German director Emmerich at the helm, Independence Day soars as filmic uber-craft.

    Jul 3, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Sonnenfeld has directed with gusto and precision from a vaguely plotted but often hilarious screenplay, and his view of Manhattan as a holding pen for intergalactic refugees has the touch of authentic experience fundamental to all great comedy.

    Jan 18, 2018 | Full Review…
  • "ID4" presses all the current hot buttons with great efficiency which will make it hard to keep in mind that just because a movie kicks major butt doesn't mean it's good.

    Jan 18, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Splendidly cheesy entertainment.

    Mar 5, 2008 | Full Review…

    Carol Buckland
    Top Critic
  • It's the first futuristic disaster movie that's as cute as a button. Which, when all the special effects blow over, is what we Americans like in a monster hit.

    Mar 5, 2008 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
  • If I were a 10-year-old boy, I'd probably think it was the coolest movie going.

    Mar 5, 2008 | Full Review…

    David Ansen

    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Independence Day

  • Dec 18, 2016
    So, now that I think about it, as I didn't really notice at the time, it turns out that after watching an alien invasion movie (Extraterrestre) without the aliens and barely any invasion as it is, I decided to watch the most alien invasion-y movie ever made. Well, really, perhaps that last point is a bit of an exaggeration. But Independence Day, for one reason or another, is still somewhat fondly remembered to this day. Admittedly speaking, however, the reason I did choose to watch this last night wasn't to contrast Extraterrestre with this, though it does make for an interesting contrast, it was simply because I was feeling slightly nostalgic and I wanted to watch a movie from my youth. Here's the thing, Independence Day came out in 1996. I was eight years old in 1996 and, quite frankly, this was probably the type of movie that spoke to me as a child. This and Space Jam. Anyway, one of the things I remember most about this movie, other than that one jump scare, isn't even something about the movie itself, it's the fact that I made my mom (or aunt) take me to see this movie in theaters a second time. Which was something that I rarely did. Now, of course, as someone who was eight years old at the time of this movie's release, my tastes were, say, a little less discerning than they are now, theoretically speaking. However, when I say I was nostalgic for this movie didn't mean that I was expecting it to blow my mind like it probably did when I was eight. But I wanted to go back to a timeframe where things were much simpler for me, not as stressful. I never looked at this movie with rose-colored glasses. This was a product of its time and my enjoyment was also a product of its time. That's not to say that I couldn't find some enjoyment out of it as someone who's 30, but I knew that I wasn't going to see the second coming, like some people tend to do when they're nostalgic about certain movies or the experiences they had with it. With that said, however, even with the relatively average rating I gave it, this movie is, at the same time, better and worse than it had any right to be. Not that it's a truly bad movie, at least not offensively so, but the thing is that I remember very little about the content of the movie. I remember the jump scare with Okun in Area 51. I remember Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum flying the alien ship to the mothership and installing some sort of virus. And, of course, I remember parts of Bill Pullman's climactic speech. But, outside of that, there is very little that I truly remember about this movie. Honestly, without being allowed to go online and verify it, if I was asked on a quiz 'Was Randy Quaid in Independence Day?' I would have answered no. Which is intriguing, since Quaid's character really is one of the heroes of the fight against the alien threat. For someone so important, his character rarely made any sort of significant impact to me and my memory of this movie. This might be due to the fact that, once again, I was eight-years-old when I first watched this. Having watched this now, however, I can say that Randy Quaid's character, and his kids (as an extension) are completely forgettable and unimportant. They're just there to pad the length and, even then, it's not like they're in the movie that movie. And, of course, it's not that I expected a movie about fighting aliens to have any real character depth, but the one-dimensionality (if the latter is even a word, if not then I just made it up) of these characters is quite something to behold. I honestly have no reason why Randy Quaid and his kids were even in this movie since, essentially, they're practically useless. They're there, mostly Quaid's character's kids, to give Quaid something to want to sacrifice himself over. If Quaid's character makes the ultimate sacrifice without really having someone to go back to, then it sort of dulls the impact because, again, he's not doing it for anybody except the faceless masses still left alive. And you can't really form any sort of emotional connection with people you can't really see. The thing is, though, you don't really form any sort of attachment with Quaid's kids either. They're as poorly developed as you can imagine, like they were an afterthought. In my opinion, it would have meant more had it been the President to make the ultimate sacrifice. He's actually a major character and the whole 'sacrificing' himself for the masses would actually work since, again, he has to think not only of his daughter, but of the remaining survivors in the U.S. Another thing that I noticed was how there were many characters journeying to the same destination. So you have all these characters, in different locations in the U.S, all working their way to Area 51 for the final assault. While the constant threat of aliens is there, of course, it doesn't really feel like a truly cohesive narrative. And, once again, I get that the point some of this film's defenders are bound to make is that this isn't meant to have a strong or cohesive narrative. Which, I suppose, is fine. But, realistically speaking, why do we have to lower our standards based on what a movie is or isn't meant to be??? And even if we DID lower our standards, there are movie that don't have great or cohesive narratives that make up for it with strong casting and characters, action, atmosphere and tone. This movie definitely has a strong cast, but the characters are really lacking. If the movie is fun then I could, at the very least, overlook some of its narrative deficiencies. A perfect, and recent, example of this would Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle. That was a fun movie without a great narrative. Or the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie was a blast and, once again, the story wasn't anything to write home about. The only thing this movie has is the strong cast. The narrative is bloated, the characters are thinly-plotted and the action is fine, but it didn't really blow my mind. Though, of course, this is a product of the fact that this movie is 22 years old by this point and action has taken leaps and bounds into the future when compared to this. Even with that, however, this is still a decent enough movie. I do think, partly, nostalgia had a lot to do with that, but I never came to hate my time as I was watching this movie. Yes, I pretty much went on a diatribe about how the movie has no characters worth investing it, its story is bloated and uninteresting and the action is archaic, but that doesn't mean to suggest the movie is terrible. As far as popcorn movies are concerned, I've seen far worse this year (Transformers: The Last Knight, which was technically released last year, but I saw this year, hence here it is). It's just that the potential WAS there for this to be the ultimate popcorn movie, but it fell short of that. This is still a perfectly decent movie, but one whose flaws outnumber the positives to the point where I can't just look away from the bad and over-rate what is good. This is the very definition of a mixed bag. It's interesting, because I feel that if I had gone into this blind, like say for anyone that was born post-96, I feel like my thoughts could have gone in either direction. And I think it's gonna be that way for most of the people that were around my age at the same time. Of course, there will always be some people that over-rate due to nostalgia, but I feel like a lot of us will be in the middle of the pack. Also interesting to see how this is the movie that pushed Will Smith to superstardom. Bad Boys was successful the year prior to this movie being released, but this is the movie that made him one of the most bankable movie stars for a decade after this point. So, if for nothing else, it's interesting to watch just to see Will Smith develop into a superstar in front of our very eyes. Regardless, this is a decent popcorn movie. It's both worse and better than I could have expected, but I didn't hate my time with this at all, even with its flaws. Wouldn't recommend it, but there's worse options out there. I know that's not exactly a glowing recommendation, but that's the best I got for this.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Jun 28, 2016
    1996 was a vastly different time for big time blockbusters. Independence Day is easily one of the most famous end-of-the-world blockbusters, but sadly, 20 years later, it doesn't necessarily hold up. With painfully cheesy one-liners and one-too many characters to follow, it's a less than stellar take on the alien invasion genre. One thing that does stand out is the ensemble cast. Perhaps besides Harvey Fierstein, I really enjoyed the entire cast. With a powerhouse like Will Smith bringing the charisma and most of the film's comedy, all you need is some solid supporting cast members to carry the rest of the weight, although let's face it, Jeff Goldblum plays the exact same character he does in Jurassic Park. Having said that, there are far too many characters that feel entirely unnecessary and end up bloating the film to an hour and a half. Cut half of the supporting roles and 30min of screen time and you have a much more re-watchable film. I can't entirely blame the film for having dated special effects, especially since it won an Oscar for them. However, I can blame the film for having a script and direction that doesn't seem to care enough to develop the characters and story into a respectable blockbuster territory. Perhaps it's because we are so inundated with mega-films that do all of these things so well that I got a little upset watching Independence Day. How many times can Roland Emmerich zoom the camera in on someone giving a shocked face at the alien's ship? It happens at least 20 times within the first hour. This film definitely has its copycats, as Emmerich recently pointed out in an interview. But he took a lot from the previous sci-fi epics that came before him. Everything from the music, end credits (visually), to the space battles felt like something out of a Star Wars or Star Trek film. With that said, none of those films have as good of a speech as Bill Pullman does as he rallied the pilots before the final takedown. That's right about when I began to accept the film for what it is and forgive some of the horrifically cheesy moments. Although the film is over 140 minutes long, we never really get a sense as to the alien's motivations or backstory as to their appearance on earth, which was disappointing for sure. Why did we need to follow the kids of one of the pilots, who barely had a role, and not get a little bit more insight from the aliens point of view? These are just a few of the issues I had with the film, but really, it's mindless fun that doesn't really need to be dissected to such an extent. Overall, it's half way decent and likely better than it has any right to be. +Will Smith's ridiculous one-liners +Pullman's speech +Mindless fun -Enough with the close-ups -Too many side characters... -...And they are focused on way too much 6.0/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Jun 26, 2016
    It's big, loud, dumb, silly, and sometimes is a bit too overstuffed for it's own good, but Independence Day succeeds thanks to the sheer likability of it's cast and the sheer scope and size of the production. A true magnum opus of fun, blockbuster filmmaking.
    Matthew M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 24, 2016
    While the plot revolves around special effects showing the destruction of major monuments and a lot of blowing stuff up action, you still get great performances from Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Pullman; as well as a good script that keeps the story moving.
    Patrick W Super Reviewer

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