It's the 4th of July, and America is celebrating. But when a hostile force attacks from both outer space and within Earth itself, our planet may be on the menu for a holiday barbecue. Can a small-town fireman, a physics-loving teen, a rogue scientist, a pair of nerd hackers and the stranded President Of The United States now find a way to stop the invasion, nuke the alien mothership, and set off the biggest fireworks display of all?
While the average viewer should never get anywhere near them, I have a soft spot for low-budget genre flicks of the kind they produce for the SyFy Channel, and within those confines, this one's a real gem. Rather than take The Asylum's cynical but amusing formula of knocking off the title but little else of a current blockbuster, Daysaster goes the opposite route and has the chutzpah to rip off a beloved hit that's almost 20 years old in a fair amount of detail. Roland Emmerich's Independence Day is one of my favorite movies, and if you take the brazen plot point and dialog nods to it in W.D. Hogan's pic as loving homage rather than shameless theft, you'll probably have a blast. I know I did.
The level of acting is pretty good for one of these flicks, where you're shooting for an underdog quality that will make you root for the low budget trappings rather than sneer at them. Tom Everett Scott is the star name here, and he makes an effective President, particularly when mixed with the goofy computer hackers (Emily Holmes and Iain Belcher are delightfully awkward interacting with the Leader of the Free World) he finds himself with for most of the movie. Meanwhile, Garwin Sanford is fun as his weasel of a VP and Ryan Merriman is a solid hero as the President's firefighter brother.
While many of the plot points are lifts from the Emmerich flick (it's fun to watch the movie shouting out the ID4 lines it references as it references them... or maybe that was just me) and its big-budget knockoff Battle Los Angeles, there are a few clever new ideas in the way the nature of the alien threat provides openings for a small, plucky group of random citizens to fight back. The special effects aren't so bad that it's a distraction, and you can't argue that the design of the alien vehicles doesn't stand out.
If you could imagine yourself watching a movie called Independence Daysaster for anything but derisive laughs, give it a try. This is one of the good ones.
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