Nitpickers tend to have a pedantry party when scrutinizing ID4, not realizing that the movie is a mid-90s time capsule that wasn't made to hold up under intense scrutiny. I find the film borderline unwatchable in the 21st century but this novelization doesn't buckle under the weight of bad acting, has better dialogue, and finer details that keep the story tight. There are some quaint references to 90s technology and a few typing errors here and there (Molstad even gets the date wrong in one scene, which is critical in a story such as this) but this is still a very fast-paced read with little get on one's nerves, unlike the movie. However, I expected Dr. Brakish Okun to be kept alive in this novel as his fate was left open in the movie when a line about him being in a coma was cut out. According to Molstad, he dies!
Curiously, there are no chapters. The entire novel is just one long chunk of pages with regular scene breaks. Molstad makes it a bit darker and has more swearing in the dialogue too, which was an odd, but not unwelcome, choice. I've read many novelizations and often they are by "paycheck" writers. Independence Day is one of those rare novels that is superior to the movie and it has aged better too. Perhaps with the sequel coming out soon fans should give this novel a shot to get hyped up.
on 31 October 2014
I like novelisations as they tend to provide a bit more backstory and context, and are a welcome addendum to the most mundane films. They tend to be a little more adult orientated, a little darker, less popcorn, more 18's than parental guidance. Given the locust like and utterly rapacious nature of the Independence aliens, I bought this novelisation in the hope of some gentle dollops of Grand Guignol.
First the good stuff. There is some very imaginative detailing of the alien technology, emphasising the biological nature of its construction (the captured spacecraft turns out to be a complex, multi-element bio-material "grown" over 40 years and carbon dated as 7,000 old). It also includes the pretty disturbing revelation that the biomechanical suit is a distinct and separate animal bred for the specific purpose of being lobotimised, scooped out and used as a power suit via telepathic control (like a more advanced version of Ripley's Power Loader). It certainly adds to the Greys’ general malevelance and truly "alien" nature. Russell Casse (Randy Quaid’s drunken pilot) also comes across as a far more sympathetic and less comedic character. The novel details the horrific abuse he suffers at the hands of a scout team of aliens several years earlier and his subsequent post-traumatic stress and resultant downward spiral into alcoholism.
Other than these little gems, it pretty much matches the film scene for scene, and the journeyman doesn’t add much else. Indeed, the film does a far better job of presenting the invasion, making me appreciate just how effective the casting director and visual effects department were in bringing the story to the screen.