Sunday, June 26, 2016

Review: Independence Day: Resurgence

Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.
Just how lacking in inspiration is "Independence Day: Resurgence," the sequel to the 20-year-old mega blockbuster in which aliens attacked Earth and blew up its iconic monuments?

My favorite example is during a scene in which several characters discuss how to stop the alien forces that have returned two decades later to finish the job by sucking out the Earth's core and ending life on the planet. The characters recall how they stopped the aliens the first time around and then one of them exclaims - and I paraphrase - "it worked last time, let's try it again!"

The film exists on an Earth in which our planet has had 20 years to develop spaceships that fly around in our atmosphere, space stations with powerful weapons and all manner of other technology. One thing that has not been developed is screenwriting capacity. Most of the characters speak in expository dialogue. One such nugget: "Wasn't that the plan you debriefed us about?"

The film wastes little time on introducing its new characters, who include Liam Hemsworth as a hot shot pilot (you know, the type who continually gets in trouble with his superiors), Maika Monroe as a presidential aide and daughter of former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman, returning with a Grizzly Adams beard), Sela Ward as the new president, Charlotte Gainsbourg as a scientist, William Fichtner as a general and Jessie Usher as the son of Will Smith's character from the original "Independence Day." The lack of presence of Smith's Hiller is frequently alluded to in the film, but never explained.

And, of course, there are some of the old, familiar faces, including Jeff Goldblum, providing the type of dry delivery you'd expect as scientist David Levinson, as well as Judd Hirsch as his father and Pullman as the retired president, who now suffers from hallucinations. One of the best elements of this sequel is that it gives some much deserved screen time to some great actors whose appearances in movies these days are rare.

Unfortunately, this does not quite make up for the myriad of problems plaguing "Resurgence." For starters, the picture gives off the vibe that an explosion occurred at the screenwriting factory. As the aliens attack Earth, nearly every possible random storyline involving minor characters comes out of the woodwork - there's a group of kids who've lost their parents and are now traveling alone in a car, a boat full of pirates searching for a sunken treasure that gets enlisted in the fight against the extraterrestrials and, naturally, that old stand-by of a doctor trying to save patients, including a pregnant woman, from the hospital in a city under fire.

There's entirely too much going on in the film and much of it isn't that engaging. There are numerous sequences of ace pilots shooting at alien crafts in the sky in scenes that resemble the "Star Wars" pictures as well as explosions, a large alien chasing a school bus, cities being sucked up into the sky by the alien ship and then dropped back down to Earth, interpersonal squabbles between the good guys, a stray romance or two and even a scientist that awakens from a 20-year coma.

At the time of its release, the original "Independence Day" was called silly by some and while that's not entirely inaccurate, Roland Emmerich's 1996 picture was, at least, a good time. I saw it during the summer before I went away to college and I recall it as an entertaining summer popcorn movie. By comparison, this sequel is overstuffed, running low on motivation and mostly just silly. As I said before, it's great to see some old familiar faces - Goldblum, Hirsch and Pullman - but next time it would be even better seeing them in something worthier of their talents.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that the 1996 picture was at least a good time. This new one is just a dull mess.

    Nice review.

    - Zach (