I don't think anyone could have dissuaded me from seeing the movie, so I doubt I'll be able to dissuade you, but I'll give it my best shot. Don't say you weren't warned.
The tremendous hype surrounding the film and the selectively cut trailers constitute the greatest commerical fraud it has ever been my displeasure to experience. Remember the "conspiracy of silence" among film critics to withhold the "big secret" of the plot in The Crying Game? A similar effort has been put forth in hawking Independence Day as a rousing, upbeat action movie. I waited in line for three hours expecting a cliched, Hollywood, feel-good shoot-em-up, and I was treated to a 150 minute exercise in guerrilla cinema.
The trailers make the movie look like Top Gun meets V. A more appropriate analogy would be The Killing Fields meets the flashback scenes from The Terminator. We get scenes of entire city populations being deported into the alien destroyers, rending families apart as the clueless humans wail at their impotence. After failing to successfully pilot a captured alien craft, Will Smith is punished for his hubris by having his body infested with dime-sized parasites which take over his central nervous system and force him to rip his girlfriend and her daughter apart with his bare hands. Judd Hirsch, as a lapsed rabbi, gets to spout bromides about "We said it would never happen again."
There is no let up from mind-numbing scenes like this. Every form of human degradation imaginable (and computer-animatable) is (un)scrupulously displayed in far too much detail. I won't even go into the disgusting submission ritual that Bill Pullman is forced to undergo. The movie ends with the earth a blasted, gore-covered wasteland, and the aliens carving condominums out of Mount Rushmore. "We had to slag the planet to save it." I had to finish off my Glenlivet last night just so I could forget enough to get to sleep.
Waittaminute. That was the Nike ad, before the movie. Oh, yeah.
The movie rocked. Go see it.
Copyright © 1996 by Eric Scharf.  All rights reserved.