Independence Day

Will Smith defends the Earth against alien invaders in this 1996 special-effects smash. And, in the process, probably became the biggest movie star on Earth. Borrowing elements from just about every alien-invasion flick from the prior half century, Independence Day wins no points for originality. Bill Pullman (as the president) and Jeff Goldblum (the absent-minded, nutty professor) are playing the same cardboard figures found in the theater lobby, and they know it. The Dean Devlin-Roland Emmerich blockbuster team behind the film hews to formula (as they have since, to lesser success); but the execution of said formula is tremendously enjoyable. Considered as pre-9/11 movie (as it must be), Independence Day made the destruction of cities an awesome, meaningless, popcorn spectacle. Thousands die, but no one really dies. The movie's all about Will Smith's righteous swagger, the coming-together of politicians and nerds, the corny patriotic unity that can only be realized by kicking extraterrestrial ass. (PG-13) BRIAN MILLER

Fri., July 3, 11:59 p.m.; Sat., July 4, 11:59 p.m., 2009

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