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Independence Day: The Fifth Reel

Tuesday 04th, July 2017 / 13:39
By Jennifer Thompson

Remember when the White House being blown up onscreen felt farfetched? Independence Day remembers.

CALGARY – Remember the good old days when a movie starring Will Smith actually meant something? Or when special effects involved more than just CGI and aliens were made of what appeared to be rubber and goo? And when wannabe astronauts could marry strippers and still be somebody? That, my friends, is just some of the forgotten epic features of the original Independence Day, thankfully coming back to the big screen at the Globe Theatre, put on by the good people at Fifth Reel this July 4.

For those of us who remember, Independence Day was one of those incredible summer blockbusters that embodied everything great in a summer release, big stars, big effects and air conditioned theatres. The movie is most famous for the scene where the aliens blow up everything sacred to America, including the White House; imagery that nowadays could earn a person jail time but ironically won the filmmakers an Academy Award.

The movie takes audiences through a hostile alien takeover, focusing of course on the epicentre for all drama both onscreen and off – the United States. The planet, as predicted, waits for the Americans to save the day.  As the story unfolds, Independence Day leaves no action film cliché unturned. Jeff Goldblum once again plays a nerdy ‘90s hipster-sciencey-genius (um, Jurassic Park anyone?) who has the technical answers to solve all of the world’s alien problems. As the aliens continue to decimate Earth, the planet’s only hope is the lowly Randy Quaid, an old fighter pilot. Randy’s only mission in life is to have revenge on the aliens who at one point had previously kidnapped him, causing him to slip into a life of alcoholism and poor parenting choices. The real star of the show, however, is Will Smith, the aspiring astronaut who joins the cause by bringing the brawn, as well as alien face-punching and a host of incredible one-liners. It’s important to note that like every good movie, the women in the film are built to accessorize, such as Vivica A. Fox, Will Smith’s love interest and the sassy exotic dancer with a heart of gold. And who can forget the president’s wife, Mary McDonnell, a sad casualty who ultimately leaves a lasting impression on everyone (sort of).

So why should Canadians care about watching a film about aliens taking over ‘Merica right now? It seems a little sacrilegious to be watching something other than a recording of a Céline Dion concert or reruns of Anne of Green Gables on Canada’s sesquicentennial birthday (that is, 150). Alonso Melgar of The Fifth Reel thinks that Independence Day is just the right amount of ridiculousness that we need this summer. “[Independence Day] fits the bill when it comes to the kind of out-of-the-box screenings we like to explore at Fifth Reel,” says Melgar. “Of course a Canadian-centric screening would make more sense, and we love Canadian film. But Independence Day is so out of the norm, we thought it would be perfect.”

He goes on to describe that what makes Independence Day so spectacular is the way it encompasses the essence of all ‘90s films: superficiality and ass-kicking. “My favourite part of the film is that its tone embraces everything that makes ‘90s film great, but not in a dated way,” he says. “When you think back to the time the movie was made, everything was on the upswing. You can see that reflected in the film. Even though everyone is positioned to die, and there are aliens threatening the entire planet, the characters are still having fun and appear not to have a care in the world.” Alonso points out that this is in great contrast to last year’s release of the sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, which is darker and involves less cheese than its predecessor.

Thankfully we can continue to covet the original in an attempt to relive the golden years when Will Smith was adorable and Jeff Goldblum was still relevant.

If you’ve not had the opportunity to see a film put on by The Fifth Reel, the experience is typically coupled with some sort of live music performance to open the show. For Independence Day, the crew has hired Eric Andrews, local guitar hero of bands like Ghost Factory to belt out a Hendrix-type rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The idea was inspired by preludes to hockey games, as described by Melgar.

After you sleep off your Canada 150 hangover, head over to the Globe on July 4 and take a moment to once again chuckle at our neighbours to the south by taking in Independence Day in all of its patriotic glory.

Relive the golden era of ‘90s action cheese at the Globe Cinema (Calgary) on July 4.

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