Finally, science fiction the way it used to be: rousing, cosmically xenophobic and ferociously patriotic. Forget E.T. and his cuddly ilk. INDEPENDENCE DAY's Bellicose aliens want our Earth and intend to squash us like bugs--Bugs!--to get it. It's up to a ragtag band of can-do-Americans, ranging from the President (Bill Pullman) to a druncken crop-duster pilot (Randy Quaid), to rally our spirits and save our bacon.
An engaging of second-tier-talent--Jeff Goldblum, Will Smith, Judd Hirsch et al.-- is on hand, and the lack of superstars works to the picture's advantage. Whereas Arnold, Tom or Sly would have to make it out alive, these journey men could bite the dust at any moment, and a surprising number of them do. For once, as a result, something's really at stake in all those white-knuckle suspense scenes.
If the writer/directer team of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich made some engagingly loopy moves in STARGATE, here they play genre convections dead straight and make them work. Thumbnail sketches of the dozen or so principal character are executed quickly and efficiently, so you actually care a little when they're imperled. The aliens, meanwhile are a fabulously nasty lot of slimy, tentacled, malevolent telepaths, but all their superior technology is no match for our red, white and blue.