By EW Staff
Updated May 28, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

”Independence Day” made our list of best disaster movies

FAMILIAR FACES Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Randy Quaid, Vivica A. Fox, Judd Hirsch, Harvey Fierstein, and Harry Connick Jr.

UH-OH! Gigantic flying saucers darken the skies over every major city on Earth. Computer geek David Levinson (Goldblum) decodes enough of their signal to realize that the aliens are bent on annihilation, but can he warn the President (Pullman) in time?

DISASTROUS DIALOGUE ”Welcome to Earth!” —Capt. Steven Hiller (Smith), after cold-cocking an alien

SAVING THE DAY As in War of the Worlds, Levinson hopes to defeat the aliens with viruses — computer viruses this time — if only fighter pilot Hiller can fly him close enough to the mothership to hack into the saucer controls with his Macintosh laptop.

AFTERSHOCKS ID relaunched the disaster genre as a vehicle for pre-millennial dread, and made director Roland Emmerich (who would destroy New York again in Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow) the heir to ’70s disaster-movie mogul Irwin Allen. It also gave Smith serious box office clout; he’d soon snag career-defining roles in Men in Black and Ali.

WHY YOU SHOULD SEE IT If you can stomach the eerie prescience of the images of New Yorkers fleeing from exploding skyscrapers, you’ll find an ultimately rousing and uplifting tale of human resilience and brotherhood.


Independence Day

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Roland Emmerich