The teaser for Independence Day ended with Will Smith saying he wanted to go "whoop ETs ass". The main trailer had him growl "Now that's what I call a close encounter." And then the film itself was full of jabs at the previous generation of cinema; the initial attempt to communicate with the aliens using music and lights a la Close Encounters ends destructively and Star Wars-style dogfights are desperate to up-the-ante.
The intent was clear - Independence Day wanted to start a new age; Roland Emmerich set out to change the blockbuster status quo from the Americana optimism Spielberg and Lucas had created back in the late-seventies. And the scary thing is, he succeeded; Independence Day may not be the best movie ever made, but it's one of the most impactful, at least in terms of popcorn churners.
Looking at the major shift in Hollywood in the 90s, of which Jurassic Park was Jaws - the kernel of the move into computer-driven effects spectacle that had one foot firmly in the methods of old - Independence Day is Star Wars; in terms of construction, success and impact, Emmerich's film is a mirror of what he set out to take-down.
With twenty-years-on sequel Independence Day: Resurgence's release completing the parallel (just to make it 100%, Independence Day isn't as good as Star Wars, far from it, but its impact is similar), let's look at what makes the films so oddly similar.
8. Mass Destruction With A Weighty Aftermath
Big, explosive summer blockbusters will invariably involve death; if a film is going to be visually exciting, it's probably going to be through a means that causes massive collateral damage. This unavoidable truth has become a recurrent issue in recent years, with movies called out for their dismissive approach to innocents and others desperately trying to show the heroes care (contrast Man Of Steel to Avengers: Age Of Ultron).
But while CGI and superheroes have made this a bigger deal, truth be told, this has always posed an issue with fun, destructive movies - strike the balance wrong and you wind up feeling too flippant or too intense - but two films that hit the perfect mark are Star Wars and Independence Day; in the former, the loss of Alderaan is coldly executed and its far-reaching impact shown in a simple cross cut and while Emmerich's film is more gracious, detailing the destruction of buildings that could be holding thousands of people, it countered that with the same swift acknowledgement. Yes, millions (probably billions) died, but each life lost was felt and built the stakes.
This approach to spectacle, having an awareness of the real-world ramifications without letting it bog the film down, is exactly what made Star Wars work and made Independence Day so appealing and relatable decades later.