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L. Neil Smith's

Number 879, July 3, 2016

"What I want to accomplish artistically
amounts to nothing more than fulfilling
the promise of the American Revolution."
—L. Neil Smith

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Movie Review: Independence Day II: The Resurgence
by Jeff Fullerton

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

Nearing the end of a day at work last Friday I was wrangling the decision for some long overdue R&R; Contemplating the Independence Day sequel which was coming out that very night. Ended up going to see it and did the New City Buffet on the way. Was hoping to write a movie review also—if I could find the time that weekend.

I didn't; on the account it being rather busy between the new Double Decker Turtle Pen project, managing the merger of two chicken flocks and a number of other things demanding my time and attention. And the delay turns out to be a good thing in the way of timing this review for the weekend of the 4th as we are about to celebrate the Real Independence Day.

As for the movie—the original was always a long time favorite—mainly because it brings back fond memories of the Summer of 1996—which was rather carefree time in my younger days when life seemed more exiting and I was pretty much free to explore. It was a time of adventure when I first drove to Florida earlier that spring and made a series of trips to Maryland, New Jersey and the Midwest to collect fish and plants etc. It was kind of exciting the day of opening night—Friday going into the 4th of July weekend. I picked up the current issue of Time or Newsweek at the gas station when I was fueling up which had the iconic, sinister looking image of the alien face that was like something out of the original H.G. Wells War of the Worlds that was the mother of all alien invasion stories. It was being said that the movie combined the aspects of many classic SF films including the old George Pal version of War of the Worlds, the original V miniseries, Alien and Invasion of the Body Snatchers to name a few. Like many a movie I had seen the trailer months earlier like I did the currently playing sequel when I went to see the latest Star Wars this past winter. It was an exciting day of anticipation as I made my way to a friend's place in Rockville Maryland on top of high expectations of catching Bluespotted Sunfish in St Mary's County the following day.

That trip turned out very productive—though my first attempt to see the movie on opening night was a bust. The ticket line at the theater was very long the first time I looked and even longer when I had a change of mind and thought I'd try again. Ended up seeing at a theater back home the following week after driving home and dealing with my catch and working a night shift. Had slept good enough that day to not fall asleep in the theater and slept well enough that night afterward to be good enough for another road trip that took me all the way to Michigan!

Those were the days.

As for the original Independence Day film—it became an all time favorite of mine that I came to love through the years—from the chilling approach of the alien mother ship by way of the moon to the can kicking environmentalist ramblings of a drunken Jeff Goldblum in his moment of despair just before the epiphany that leads to the solution of defeating the invaders—to the antics of Russell Casse who also takes time out from hitting the bottle to save the day at the end. And of of course the whit of Will Smith I remember best in the line where he hits the alien with an knockout punch and says "Welcome to Earth"! And later grumbles at it "Here I am dragging your heavy ass across the burning sands with your dreadlocks hanging out the back of my parachute"—on the way to the secret facility called Area 51 where the government has got a crashed spaceship from an earlier scouting expedition and the bodies of aliens in jars!

A collection pickled demons worthy of the old faith healer A.A. Allen!

Then you have a few good ones from President Whitmore—Bill Pullman; the leading actor of Spaceballs fame! Best remembered was of course the speech prior to the launching of world wide aerial offensive against the alien fleet in which he declares that Independence Day would no longer be just an American holiday but a day in which the world united to rise up to fight and live on. In the fashion of the Hollywood world view, freedom from annihilation was more important than freedom from tyranny and oppression.

It is obvious I like a movie when I can recall lines at least half as good as I can any quote from Spaceballs! However I'm not so sure of the sequel that was a long time in coming. Twenty years to be exact!

The theme of a world united to deal with the possibility of another alien invasion continues in the sequel. Indeed has been a long standing theme in science fiction : that what we really need is a really good crisis in the way of hostile extraterrestrials to bring the world together and make it possible to pool resources and sit together and sing Kumbaya. At one point during the celebration of Independence Day in the nation's capital amid the rumblings of the second invasion the idea is lauded was in a way reminiscent to the remarks of an Army official in the wake of the Fort Hood shootings who was more concerned that "our diversity might suffer"! At least this time around it doesn't get much more heavy handed than that.

There are two schools of thought on extraterrestrial contact that are reflected in science fiction. On one hand you have the contact optimists who in addition to being ever hopeful that intelligent life exists elsewhere and is within reach of our civilization also are inclined to believe that actual contact with an alien civilization will be mutually beneficial. On the other there are the contact pessimists who believe that habitable planets and complex life above the microbial level is rare and the distances between civilizations in addition to the physical difficulties involved in interstellar travel along with other statistical factors make contact very unlikely. And maybe for a good reason since contacts between human societies with different levels of technology have usually gone badly for the group with the lower tech level. Marshall T. Savage and Stephen Hawking share this view—which is pretty much that extraterrestrials are less likely to be cute and cuddly like ET and a lot more like the Borg from Star Trek!

The Independence Day aliens definitely fit this category.

In the first film they came to steal the Earth's resources in the fashion of a shopworn SF formula that continues to have appeal. Remember V and many an old 1950s grade B flick in which they come to steal the water. Or the air. Or the planet itself which is probably the most plausible reason any extraterrestrial beings would seek to conquer Earth. And they were defeated by a simple computer virus planted in their networks that disabled their defensive force shields long enough to allow a rag tag counter strike to bring their fleet down and destroy the mother ship that was a quarter the mass of the Earth's moon! The alien civilization is apparently a malignant form of Macrolife that according to the testimony of President Whitmore, goes from planet to planet using up the local resources and moving on. It seemed that maybe the mother ship represented the entire civilization. Never the less; the Earth developed and mobilized an international defense force in the event of another invasion. Utilizing technology salvaged from the defeated alien fleet they built a huge fleet of hybrid air and spacecraft that makes trips to the moon routine and also revolutionized life on Earth.

Unfortunately the effort which was 20 years in the making was not enough and an even bigger, more formidable mothercraft is coming in response to a distress call sent by a destroyer ship grounded in Africa during the last war.

Because the second installment is just released I won't go much more into detail about the plot out of consideration for those who have yet to see it. Overall it was a pretty good movie in the way of special effects and the continuation of the story line and familiar characters we've all grown to love over the years and a few new ones—but for a while into the movie the plot left me wanting for similar reasons the latest Star Wars film left me wanting. At least there were a few twists nearing the end that are redeeming and make it worth seeing. And a hint that future collaboration with the enemies of the invaders that will obviously lead to humanity going interstellar and taking the conflict to the alien's home turf.

Hopefully the third movie that is rumored to be in the works—or at least serious planning stage will turn out better.

Happy Independence Day! Which in my opinion remains a uniquely American Holiday!

End Notes: Leading character of the first movie—Will Smith—unfortunately declined the offer to replay his role as the Air Force pilot Captain Steve Hiller. The script was written accordingly to have him die in an accident testing a new space vehicle developed from the captured alien technology. His role is filled somewhat by Jesse Usher who plays the part of his stepson who was a small child during the time of the "96 Invasion" as it is called.

In regard to El Neil's recent article: "Message to the Stars"—maybe the Aliens are Libertarians but our isolation from the rest of the Universe is self-inflictect. If there would ever be a reason for the government to cover up the existence of UFOs and an extraterrestrial civilization; that would be it!

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