First released in 1996, Independence Day was a smash hit that injected a level of scale previously unseen in the summer blockbuster. Nearly twenty years later, Pacific Rim came along and told essentially the same story, only with a slightly different wrapper. Seriously, the similarities between Pacific Rim and Independence Day are so hilariously specific it's astounding there hasn't been a lawsuit. It's a real "Under Pressure" vs. "Ice Ice Baby" situation.
Overwhelming odds, a world in crisis, and a band of unlikely heroes are just the tip of the iceberg. When it comes down to it, there are a ton of ways Independence Day and Pacific Rim are the pretty much the same movie.
And though you might think that comparison would cheapen the end result of Pacific Rim, the opposite is true. Pacific Rim uses similar large strokes as its predecessor, but that only serves to set the audience at ease while the film — like Independence Day two decades earlier — amps up the visual delight to a new and spectacular place. Yeah, Pacific Rim is the same film as Independence Day, but Independence Day was an awesome movie.
So, all that respect paid, let’s get into it. Here, for your consideration, are the reasons that Pacific Rim and Independence Day are essentially the same movie.
Also, MASSIVE SPOILERS ahead. Because, of course there are, you knew what you were getting in to.
Whether you’re cowering in fear as a kaiju rips through the downtown area or you’re huddling in fear as a giant laser beam goes all Hiroshima on your city, the result is the same: these aliens are way, way more powerful than we are. They have more resources, more time, and more reason to murder the crap out of us.
Their reason? Both invading forces are locusts, which means they’re the kind of dill holes who ransack a society, soak up all the good stuff, and then move on down the line. The Independence Day aliens move en masse, while the Pacific Rim guys open a doorway and send the forward troops through a little at a time. The tactics may vary slightly, but the motivation is identical.
When the credits roll at the end of both films, the symphony swells and everyone is treated to a fist-pumping anthem that celebrates humanity’s unequivocal ability to kick extraterrestrial ass. Of course, before that victory song plays, pretty much the entire planet (or at least several major cities) have been completely ransacked. Millions of people are dead.
Victories in both films are pyrrhic (at best) and only accomplished when people are on their last legs, praying for some vestige of salvation. As the (mostly unwatchable) sequel Independence Day: Resurgence taught us, humanity is still pretty much boned in the aftermath of an alien invasion.
Dear Independence Day,
Okay, so you managed to examine rando strings of numbers in an alien language and figure out their entire master plan at a glance? Then, all you needed to save the day was the inspiration to turn to your Macintosh and whip up a virus that’s one hundred percent compatible with technology that’s not only leagues ahead of ours, it’s also from a f*cking alien planet. Right.
Dear Pacific Rim,
Okay, so these alien folks chose to construct giant, rampaging monsters and use those as the front line of their army? Then, even though they could actually send through seemingly as many monsters as they want, they choose to send one at a time. Why? Just to dick with humanity? Are witnessing some kind of inter dimensional reality show? Anyway, to crack the code of this whole master plan, by the way, your smart guy character decides to meld minds with a fraction of the brain of one of these behemoths. And it actually freaking works? Because we’re operating under the assumption that all brains (regardless of species) are basically the same. Right.
Whether you’re watching the White House shatter like glass during the onslaught of an alien attack or you’re being treated to a giant robot kicking the crap out of a giant monster, both films’ special effects are spot on. Say what you will about the technical merit of either production, but when it comes time to throw down, the action sequences in Independence Day and Pacific Rim are enthralling, edge of your seat experiences.
Additionally, both films’ fight scenes rely on making the viewer believe that utter defeat is only a heartbeat away. Throughout both, the heroes are constantly on the verge of losing everything, just before they snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Actually, in the case of Pacific Rim, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat is an almost literal plot point.