In case you weren’t there, we as a culture were obsessed with aliens in the nineties. I don’t know how it happened, but I suspect it started with those douchebags in England who started laying down ‘crop circles’ with ropes and boards and then countless TV specials like Unsolved Mysteries and whatever the History Channel morphed into went into these breathless, hour long, hyper-edited tin foil ravings about how there was no way in hell all these crop circles were made with a bunch of ropes and boards and by the time these douchebags came out and said, ‘We made them with ropes and boards’ it was too late and Fox was airing specials about alien autopsies and pretending it was real.
Another thing we were all obsessed with was Will Smith, and that was going great right up until the giant mechanical spider. So it’s unsurprising we got two movies that mush aliens and Will Smith right at the peak of the decades. What’s surprising, maybe (to losers), is that both of them are still worth watching.
Independence Day is a doomsday action movie that allows the viewer to have fun and have a happy ending with fireworks, something sorely lacking in the next decade dominated by ‘grimdark’ and ‘gritty reboots.’ Will Smith got to be an action star, and Jeff Goldblum continued to be Jeff Goldblum because there is only one Jeff Goldblum and when you hire Jeff Goldblum, you get Jeff Goldblum. Everybody’s wearing flannel, including the president and a good portion of the aliens, and there’s a dog named Boomer. 11/10 must watch.
Men in Black came out a year later and we all just accepted it! We said, yes, please, more Will Smith and aliens! And we were right to, and it was great. This movie is peak Will Smith, specifically the ‘series of simple tests scenes’ culminating in the Tiffany soliloquy, which should have won the man a damn Oscar and the fact that it didn’t is the main reason the Oscars are the Grammys of the awards world. Vincent D’Onofrio is a delight and there’s a pug wearing an “I (heart) NY” sweater, 14/10 absolutely necessary.