Stars: Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Will Smith, Mary McDonnell, Adam Baldwin.

"Independence Day" is to sci-fi films what "Twister" is to disaster flicks. Both have about the same quality (or lack thereof) of dialogue, both stick rigidly to a well-used formula, and both let their special effects overwhelm story and character. (For F/X, I'd give the edge to "Twister", although "ID" does have more cars being tossed into the air). Both films even have similar romantic subplots (i.e. an estranged couple which regroups when confronted by adversity).

Played for laughs more often than you'd think, "ID" leaves few cliches untried. One can even argue that the plot has been lifted almost in its entirety from the film version of the sci-fi classic "War of the Worlds". Area 51, for you government conspiracy buffs, plays a large part in the goings on.

The aerial warfare waged in the film looks like nothing so much as "Battlestar Galactica", with a formations of F-18's taking the place of Colonial Vipers. The best thing about the film is the hilarious performance by "Star Trek: The Next Generation" alum Brent Spiner. Although his part is limited to just a few minutes onscreen, he makes the most of it as a kooky scientist who just doesn't get out much. The worst thing about the film is the fact that the humans must devise a "magical solution" to vanquish an enemy which is technologically superior.

Although destined to be a hit despite its many flaws, "Independence Day" is too brainless to be truly satisfying. A weary entry into the escapist film genre.

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