Fred on Independance Day, The Movie...

I just had to post my findings on ID4, the much hyped summer thriller released by Fox this past summer. I enjoyed the movie and the great special effects it had to offer. The movie was short on originality but that detracted little from the overall enjoyment of it all, we had seen too much of soft, teddy-bear like aliens with their glowing fingertips so it was refreshing to be confronted by aliens with an attitude. But I felt credit had to be given to all the movies that ID4 drew their ideas from.

"Earth versus the Flying Saucers," this 1953 Sci-Fi classic was the main inspiration for ID4. Here you had a massed attack by enemy spacecraft which proved very resistant to typical earthling defense methods. Alien mass attacks against earth are fairly rare in Hollywood filmdom, the only other mass attack film of the period was "War of the Worlds" loosely based on the 30's era Orsen Wells radio narrative. Most alien attacks in Hollywood drew from communist scares of the 50's where aliens infiltrated earth as 5th columnists bent on using more covert methods to take over earth. "Saucers" was simple and direct, here you had enemy spacecraft that resisted everything the earthlings could throw at them. But those crafty earthlings soon discovered certain weaknesses in the alien's systems and used relatively simple means to defeat them. In "Saucers," the earthlings developed sonic disrupters which sent the alien saucers plunging out of control whence they came crashing down destroying any number of well-known Washington landmarks in the process. This isn't much different from Levinson's com- puter "virus" which disabled the alien's rather effective shielding systems and their saucers also came crashing down to earth. "Saucer" aliens like ID4 aliens relied on external bio-mechanical suits to compensate for their frailty and in both cases they quickly fell victim to good ole earthling gun fire. The only difference was that "Saucer" aliens once dead, tended to sublimate into nothing while deceased ID4 aliens could be preserved in jars. ID4 aliens in captivity had the appearance and manner of Ridley Scott Aliens although they lacked the cunning of Scott's creatures. Apart from "Saucers" and "Alien(s)," other movies that played a role in ID4 were: Hanger 18: Recovery of alien spacecraft and bodies in New Mexico desert. Star Trek, The Movie: Levinson's and Hiller's trip through the interior of the mothership not unlike the Enterprise's trip through the interior of V'ger. Capricorn One: Crop duster pilot is unlikely hero of the day. Star Wars (1977): Tactical operations against spacecraft threatening to destroy rebel base. "V" (NBC miniseries): Outsized alien craft and alien ambitions to strip Earth of its resources. "War of the Worlds" (syndicated TV series): Alien infantry embarking on transports on main deck of the mothership while Levinson and Hiller flew past look very similar to "Worlds" martians when they weren't assuming human form. Top Gun: Defeating aliens imparts the same swagger in Levinson, Hiller, and Whitmore as it did with "Maverick" upon his successful mission against the Russians. Mr. Smith goes to Washington: Washington wimp shows his mettle. Planet of the Apes: The Statue of Liberty gets displaced. Star Trek III, The Search for Spock or Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back: Sucessful escapes in spacecraft through closing space dock doors or the closing maw of a giant space creature. Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind: Attempting to use light signals to communicate with aliens. The Day the Earth Stood Still: Film clip introducing Gort.

Finally, one ID4 inconsistency that I only noticed after getting a tape of it is in scene where President Whitmore walks down the corridor of the presidential quarters in the White House and Constance Spano (David Levinson's ex-wife) is reading a copy of USA Today. She is reading the front section of the paper and Gannett, the publishers of USA Today ALWAYS place the weather outlook on the back of the front section of the paper. If you notice carefully, the weather map shows 20 and 30 degree weather plunging into Texas and anyone in Texas can assure you that such temparatures are not found anywhere in the state during July. Get a copy of that paper and look at the colours they use for temparature gradients. Blue is not usually found anywhere within the US in July. I think this can be accounted for in the fact that the scene was filmed during the winter out in Hollywood and they used current copy of USA Today which they probably took from one of the USA Today paper boxes standing on the street outside of studio. Not that it was such a bad inconsistency, we've all seen far worse. But I haven't seen anyone else mention it.

Of course, the promotional tie-in to Apple Computer was there for all to see. Was this Gil Amelio's plan to salvage Apple Computer? Was Apple Computer selling their technology to the unwitting aliens?? Were the aliens using MAC O/S because Apple couldn't find a market for it with the earthlings?? This made it easy for Levinson to stop up the aliens "plumbing" because their entire system was based on an Appletalk LAN so it was simple for him to plug his MAC laptop because the aliens had Appletalk ports everywhere. Here was Amelio's chance to save Apple, (the rest of the world wasn't so important) the aliens gave a big cash infusion which helped over the short term, but the crafty Amelio knew the aliens couldn't resist taking over Earth in the long term. Apple's proprietary technology, shunned by the earthlings, would save the day, but only after the aliens had paid up. Amelio lured Steve Jobs back to Apple because he felt that Jobs could relate better to the surviving aliens that were pulled from the flaming wreckage of the the downed "city killer" saucer craft and convince them to move to Cupertino where they could work for Apple Computer. Being that Levinson had the President's ear, Amelio offered Levinson a hefty retainer to smooth things over with INS so the aliens could get their "green cards" and assimilate quickly into Silicon Valley life. Apple developed "telepath to speech" translators for the aliens to wear which helped greatly in their new earth-bound life, but it took much longer for San Jose area residents to get used to awful smell the aliens gave off. But Amelio couldn't have been happier, the aliens were quick studies and their tentacles allowed them to write source code much faster than earthlings. But then people like Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and Nathan Myhrvold started showing up trying to convince the aliens that their future was in Redmond and Amelio had a new set of worries. But Ballmer was thrilled when some aliens did take his offer to become "Softies!!" After one the aliens arrived in Redmond, Ballmer in joking manner asked if the alien could do something about his lack of hair. Yes, the alien answered and an elaborate suite was constructed to reprogram Ballmer's DNA. The day finally came, Ballmer was strapped to a gurney and wheeled under the huge machine that would reprogram his DNA. Seconds later, the reprogramming was accomplished and Ballmer got off the gurney looking forward to a head full of hair. Sure enough, within months Ballmer had a lucious head of hair, but also had eight tentacles emerging from his back. Ballmer had known that such "reprogrammings" were never perfect, but the tentacles were a small price to pay. Ballmer soon mastered his new tentacles and he became a terror on Microsoft's Redmond "campus." Ballmer could slip his tentacles under the doors of any office and using his newly enhanced telepathic abilities see if the occupant was being productive in the true Microsoft manner. Productivity went up by leaps and bounds, and Bill Gates was thrilled because Ballmer could chip a shot far better than anyone else out of a sand trap using his tentacles and Bill and his father relished the challenge that Ballmer posed on their golf outings to Palm Springs. But Netscape's Jim Barksdale and Marc Andreesen were anything but thrilled and soon "Ballmer Alerts" were flying around the Mountain View offices of the firm. Prior to Comdex, Barksdale issued a directive telling Netscape employees not to go near the Microsoft booth for fear that Ballmer was lurking inside poised to read their minds. Former Novell CEO Bob Frankenberg started ranting, "See I told you so, they're like locusts, they'll strip the planet dry and then move on." Gates and Myhrvold chuckled about it on the way to the airport to catch a flight back to Seattle. They were in a hurry because because back at Redmond, their new bio-mechanical suits were now running with Windows NT 4.0 after much work was done to purge them of MAC O/S. These suits represented the ultimate in a high-bandwidth computer/organic lifeform interface and although once inside the suits, there wasn't any practical way to get them off, the feeling was who would want to anyway!! Gates leaned back in his narrow coach-class seat and mused, "Nathan, just think what I'll be able to do once I'm freed of this weak, useless, and limited-bandwidth human body!" Mhyrvold replied, "but you'll be 9 feet tall and weigh 400 pounds, it might be hard to move around." Gates retorted, "who needs to move around with this bandwidth, everything can be virtualized and besides physical movement is rather primative." "What about sex, once we're in these suits that will be precluded in the conventional sense," Nathan responded. Gates pushed his glasses back up his nose and replied, "Once EVERYONE is in these suits, it will be a walk in the park to virtualize that too!!"

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Fred Findling
Innovative Network Technologies
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