Captain Steven Hiller: [talking to the unconscious alien he’s dragging] Y’know, this was supposed to be my weekend off, but noooo. You got me out here draggin’ your heavy ass through the burnin’ desert with your dreadlocks stickin’ out the back of my parachute. You gotta come down here with an attitude, actin’ all big and bad… [yells] and what the hell is that smell? [starts kicking the alien, yelling] I could’ve been at a barbecue! [kicks the alien one last time and calms down] But I ain’t mad.
OK. OK. OK. I get it. Summer block busters don’t normally hold up after fourteen odd years have passed. One starts to notice the glaring plots holes, the bad acting, and other “creative” shortcuts that all gets cleverly disguised at first under hype, big action and bigger BOOMS! Then as time marches on, the varnish begins to rub off leaving nothing much left than a story…and if the story isn’t strong, a movie falls apart.
To make this simple, here are the things I noticed specifically on my most recent watch of ID4:
- Jeff Goldblum is a TERRIBLE actor in this movie. I remember at the time I liked him because I thought he had a quirky delivery. It made me laugh back then. Now…I cringe at how really really over-the-top it was. And drunk Goldblum near the end before they realized that he could use a virus to bring down the alien ships…why did no one else stop him from throwing crap around? Yes, it’s a crisis but there should’ve been just more than his dad (Judd Hirsch) and a passed out techie in the UFO hangar. A soldier? Another techie? An acting coach? They were probably all passed out drunk in another room. That’s the only explanation.
- Ignore the fact for a moment that it is possible for a late 90’s Mac could upload a virus to an alien computer. This would be like trying to use a Vic 20 to hack into an iTouch using BASIC. Ignore the fact that these aliens couldn’t see into the alien ship Will Smith and Goldblum had flown in because they closed the front window blind (and the aliens hadn’t developed video technology). Ignore the fact that the aliens…with ALL of their extremely advanced technology…still had to rely on OUR satellite system to coordinate an all out worldly attack (can you say convenient plot device?). Wouldn’t that mean that if the aliens attacked pre-Space Age, they’d be a mess trying to beat us all at once? And ignore the fact that we used Morse Code to communicate and coordinate a world attack WITHOUT satellites just prove how inept these aliens are. Better yet, don’t ignore any of those facts. I can see your ears bleeding.
- Ever notice that when the aliens are attacking the bases that none of the planes on the ground are ever hit in lieu of trucks, jeeps and Winnebagos? This could either mean: a) the planes are invisible to them on the ground or b) they perceive Winnebagos as more of a tactical threat than jets equipped with heat-seaking missiles. Go watch that scene…it’s true!
- July 2nd: Exciting beginning. Still gives me chills.
- July 3rd: Snore. I actually dozed off. Might be one part because I don’t have a crazy good TV sounds system, another part because the version of the movie I had been on VHS, and a final part because the story weaknesses really drug the middle down.
- July 4th: YAY! AMERICA WINS! (and the rest of the world…) But the final battle is still fun and (as hard as it is to admit this) the President’s speech is Obama-quality.
- How did the aliens know what all of the world’s landmarks were and aimed for them? Did they pick up a Frommers?
- There’s a LOT of bad acting in this movie. I know I picked on Goldblum at the beginning but really it was a cast wide epidemic. Maybe the aliens were coming to save us from that.
- …with one exception: Will Smith. Solid all around performance. It’s why after this movie he became a bankable action star. But he still owes me $20 for Hancock.
- The special effects or CGI still holds up on par with anything that’s out there today. Except maybe Avatar. The best part of the movie.
So when they re-release the 3D version of this movie right before the two sequels come out (and they will do this because ID4 missed out on the 3D IMAX innovation), I’ll be the first in line to see it. Because I’m a sucker. And I like fun action movies. And I hope they include this scene in it:
Having said that, considering the sheer known quality of other movies on this list, I’ve got to be harsh and nitpicky with this ranking.
6.5 Wonder Years Dad sightings out of 10
(and you thought that reference in my previous blog pre-amble was just for fun.)