Gort vs Apple computers: We review Independence Day

Stardate 31082012.2:

"When did you get back here?" Gort questioned as I pounced into the Mothership control room, holding a raygun with my froggy foreleg.

"I have returned! You may have betrayed me and switched my brain with Walter the Einstein Frog, a disgraced former Alliance Commander who had been injured and had his brain transplanted into a frog. You may have fired me into space in an escape pod, only to be rescued by terrible director Tommy Wiseau. I may have been captured and tortured by the Black Dog Armada, but I, I will have the last laugh!"

"What? Walter? Oh, we got rid of him ages ago," Gort replied as he waved a hand vaguely in my direction.

"You... you, what?" I asked.

"Yeah, he had weird taste in films," Gort muttered.

For the first time, I noticed a dishevelled-looking Helen Cox of New Empress magazine cowering in a corner and rocking: "He-he made us watch Gigli..." she stuttered to herself.

"Well... Can I have my body back?" I asked.

"Sure, we stuck Walter in the cryo pod. Now, come on, we're going to watch Independence Day."

"Bastards..." I mumbled and hopped onto the couch.

Whether you enjoy Independence Day or not rather depends on how you take a particular scene. If seeing Will Smith drive an alien spaceship into the ground, ejecting from his fighter jet and parachuting to the earth himself, is something you find thrilling; if you find it amusing when he trash talks his way from his landing spot to the ship; whether you fist-pump the air or not when an alien in full exoskeleton super suit leaps out at him and he knocks it unconscious with a single punch; if you howl with laughter when he lights up a cigar and deadpans: "that's what I call a close encounter;" this is what will determine whether you can appreciate the film.

You see, if you can let the shallowness of all that pass, then you can also allow it to slide when a fireball simply stops at an open door in order to avoid cooking a defenceless pooch. You can let it slide that a Mac laptop is compatible with an alien Mothership's supercomputer (our Mothership only runs Windows 7...). You won't baulk at the utter stupidity with which the average American reacts to the arrival of an alien invasion force. You may not even scoff as the world's militaries hide out in the desert and wait for the American President to give them permission to defend the Earth.

...Well, to be frank, the only way you're not going to wet yourself laughing at the latter is if you're American, and even then it's a stretch...

Still, if you have the attitude with which you can let these gaping plot holes and varying incredulities off with a warning, in other words, if you are the kind of person who reads this blog, then this is a movie packed with entertainment.

As much as we really wish we could hate Will Smith for his smugness, we've yet to see a film starring him that is not improved by his presence. Even if you hate him, you can at least be glad that he didn't rap on the soundtrack. Elsewhere, the cast is a little bundle of joy: Brent Spiner is strange and particularly method under a lot of make-up; Adam Baldwin is the kind of personality vacuum that paid the bills until he did Firefly; Bill Pullman does his best Bill Clinton impression; Mary McDonnell shows that she makes a much better President than either a First Lady, or Bill Pullman; and Jeff Goldblum plays... well... Jeff Goldblum, though he works exceptionally well as a foil for Smith.

All of these combine to act out what is essentially a remake of War of the Worlds. Now, you can complain about the cheesiness and the plot holes and the jingoism, but the movie does Orson Welles proud, even if not HG. Orson Welles' 1930s radio play adaptation was clearly not as well thought out or composed as HG Wells' book, but it was such a legendary epic of spectacle that it allegedly convinced a large number of people that Martians were actually invading. Even if not true, which is heavily suspected nowadays, the very fact that legend persists shows what an impact Welles' production had. Independence Day may not be trying to convince you that aliens are actually invading, but it does bring you an unprecedented level of effects work, simulating the destruction of several American cities, including many famous landmarks.

Make no mistake, this is a big-budget disaster movie, propelled along by cheesy sentiment, cheesier humour and ridiculous, over the top setpieces. When you realise that, you can allow yourself to be dragged along for the silly, exciting ride. It may not be Oscar bait, but what it does, it does very, very well. It's a movie you'll probably never randomly sling on the DVD player, but every now and then you'll catch it on TV and remember just how much you love it, despite how ridiculous it is; maybe even because of it.

Whew! Well, that was an epic adventure! The Commander's going to need a week off to recover after that, so we'll be seeing you all the week after next for another thrilling adventure.