93: “Now That’s What I Call A Close Encounter” – Independence Day & Mars Attacks!

In the mid-90s, multiplexes were invaded by an influx of movies centered on mankind’s first contact with extraterrestrials. And unlike the cute and friendly aliens we got to know in the 80s, like E.T. and ALF, the space invaders of the 90s mostly just wanted to annihilate us, starting with our favorite tourist destinations.

Part One of the When We Were Young Early Late Mid-To-Late 90s Summer Alien Invasion Spectacular looks at two of the deadliest interstellar assaults to ever breach the silver screen, both celebrating their 25th anniversaries this year.

First up, we celebrate the 4th of July in the most American way possible — with mass casualties, tons of military hardware, a bombastic presidential speech, and a stripper! Roland Emmerich’s record-smashing INDEPENDENCE DAY (1996) raised the bar for special effects-loaded summer entertainment, redefining the blockbuster with its cataclysmic destruction of U.S. landmarks (a popcorn movie hallmark ever since).

Next, we attempt to shield ourselves from Tim Burton’s outrageous sci-fi send-up MARS ATTACKS! (1996), with a cast so star-studded that it stars Jack Nicholson twice! The wacky comedy had just as much death and destruction as Independence Day, but came in for a crash landing when it opened in theaters, and has been largely forgotten since.

Which of these uncomfortably close encounters holds up better now that we’re viewing them from a distance? Do we prefer President Pullman to President Nicholson? A dog that outruns an explosion, or a chihuahua with Sarah Jessica Parker’s body? Will Smith’s fresh quips, or ack-ack-ack-ack? Get answers to these and other probing questions in a podcast that’s truly out of this world!

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