'Independence Day': battle begins here

It's a war movie, a love story, spangled with cliche. What more could you want, asks Emma Daly
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The Independent Online
Thrill to the triumph of good over evil, weep at the loss of mother and father, laugh at the devil-may-care one-liners of the wise-cracking heroes, marvel at the ring of fire consuming the Empire State Building - Independence Day has it all, the ultimate B-movie.

Of course it's rubbish, but what fun it is even if you're not an American. Obviously, now that the US of A rules the world it needs a new challenge: to rule the universe, and Hollywood has come up trumps. It's a war movie, a love story, a thriller, a horror/sci-fi/comedy and a tale of redemption, bathed in special effects and a nod to the rest of the world.

Women, admittedly, get rather short shrift, keeping the home fires burning while the men go off and do their thing, but at least there are lots of men to watch. The President, handsome, decent, Wasp; the boffin, sexy, smart and Jewish; the pilot, sexy, brave and black.

The aliens are distant cousins to ET and descendants of the alien destroyed by Sigourney Weaver. And, in a decent plot-twist, they are the beings that might justify the existence of the National Enquirer and the news section of Sunday Sport.

The makers of Independence Day have, in a stunning cinematic achievement, managed to assemble pretty much every film cliche there is in a single package. Apart from the obvious sci-fi precursors - Star Wars, Close Encounters - the movie pays tribute to Top Gun, to all war movies and all hacker movies, the War of the Worlds, Dave, The Gods Must Be Crazy, Lassie, North by North-West and even to the James Bond oeuvre (the opening scene with a submarine commander reporting something fishy on his telephone hot-line).

Performances are charming and cheesy, the minor characters bring pathos (the Grim Reaper looms above them), product placement is unusual (Sky News in the Oval Office? CNN should sue). And it's not often that you see the symbols of American power (the White House, the Stealth bomber) blown away. The stereotypes are splendid - plucky Brits, chain-smoking Russians, inscrutable Orientals and spear-carrying Africans. Aussies in the audience cheered the shots of Sydney Harbour, though apparently in the US the blitzing of Washington drew rapturous applause.

Best of all there are no dreary, millionaire stars. Instead the makers have employed actors - Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch (who made the leap from Taxi to the big screen), Bill Pullman (who you would probably recognise, though I can't remember any of his other movies) and some plucky babes who will, I hope, be launched to greater glory next time around.

Independence Day is the ultimate in easy viewing. It does not inform or educate or offend. It is well worth a fiver and two hours of your time, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.