Devlin and Emmerich are hardly known for their subtlety and sophistication and this big budget B-movie certainly won’t change any minds on that score.
It follows the summer blockbuster formula to the letter, but it is done with enough tongue in cheek humour and unpretentious abandon to make it a hugely enjoyable experience. The action is very much of the Gung Ho and flag-waving variety – I’m still not sure if the president’s Independence Day speech is meant to be taken seriously, but it always raises a laugh from me – but thrillingly done; the dogfight through a canyon is as exciting as Hollywood action gets and you can’t help but cheer for Randy Quaid’s boozy abductee in the climactic battle. Jeff Goldblum is at his least irritating and has some fantastic banter with his crotchety Jewish father played to perfection by veteran comic actor Judd Hirsch. The characters are all walking cliches and the characterisation just a collection of soapy melodrama but it’s little more than mercifully brief window dressing for the roller coaster ride of the alien invasion.
The ground-breaking effects still look good today and it’s great entertainment if you don’t take it too seriously. Big, dumb and a lot of fun.