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Independence Day Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    With its hackneyed plot, feeble attempts at characterization, and predictable finale, the second half of Independence Day becomes an extremely dull and lifeless affair.

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  • 63

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    For all of its huge budget, Independence Day is a timid movie when it comes to imagination. The aliens, when we finally see them, are a serious disappointment.

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  • 83

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Lisa Schwarzbaum

    It's the first futuristic disaster movie that's as cute as a button. Which, when all the special effects blow over, is what we Americans like in a monster hit.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    A rousing state-of-the-art cartoon capped by an aerial-combat climax that, to its credit, isn't anti-climactic. [2 July 1996, p.D1]

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

Nonstop over-the-top fun for teens and up.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Independence Day is an action-packed science-fiction film filled with scenes of the fiery destruction of entire cities and the people who live in them, along with smaller scale personal fatalities and some pretty grisly aliens. The filmmakers take pains to introduce some very likeable characters, only to explode them soon afterward. This movie was the gold standard of sci-fi effects and air battles when it was released in 1996, and older kids and teens that have a firm understanding of the difference between fantasy and reality will enjoy the ride. There's some swearing (i.e. "hell," "schmuck," "ass," "s--t," "bastard," "goddamn"), and one short scene takes place in a strip club with scanty costumes.

  • Families can talk about stereotypes associated with action-disaster movies, as well as how race, class, and gender are represented in Independence Day.
  • How does this film compare with other alien-invasion films?
  • Do you like the mix of comedy and scariness?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: It's clearly stated that the people of earth, divided into nations, religions, etc., have the ability to put away their differences and unite for their common interests. In this case, all the leaders of the world come together to fight for the right of the planet to exist.  Also promotes self-sacrifice for the greater good.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Heroes come in all shapes and sizes -- lots of ethnic and cultural diversity. The government, the military, and individuals put their lives on the line to save the Earth. With one exception (a brave mother saving her child and her dog), the female characters serve basically as emotional support for the male leads. Two very stereotypical Jewish men hover around the plot, mostly for comic relief.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Buildings, major landmarks, and citizens are destroyed by fireballs; cars careen through the air; airplanes explode; spacecraft, both large and small, wreak jet-ray havoc on the hapless Earth. Then, the aliens appear: tentacled, huge, slimy, and powerful. Scientists perform an autopsy on one that morphs into an even more grotesque creature. There are multiple aerial firefights, one-on-one serpent attacks, and an alien-speaking-through-a-human moment that's truly spooky.

  • sex false1

    Sex: In one of the many subplots, stripper passes some dancers onstage then finds some strippers backstage in very little clothing. A man who claims to have been abducted by aliens is teased with comments like "Did they do any sexual things?"

  • language false2

    Language: Some mild expletives and insults throughout: "hell," "butt," "s--t and bulls--t," "ass," "son-of-a-bitch," "bastards," "goddamn, "schmuck," "Jesus," "Holy God," "booty." 

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: Coors, Arrowhead water, Minute Maid, Wells Fargo bank, IMB, Reebok, HBO, and heavy on the Coca-Cola.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: One character, a father of young kids, is a slurring, self-pitying drunk through most of the film, constantly swigging from a bottle. Cigars are passed out and smoked as a means of celebrating victory over the attackers, though one character does say, "Smoking is not healthy."