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Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
Tonight's Feature Presentation

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (2016)

Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Jessie T. Usher, Maika Monroe

Written By: Nicolas Wright & James A. Woods and Roland Emmerich & Dean Devlin (also story), James Vanderbilt

Directed By: Roland Emmerich

The Shot

Independence Day: Resurgence is a major letdown that in no way recaptures the experience of its predecessor.  It’s passable as a one-time rental, but nothing more.


The Highball

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?

STALE CHEESE POPCORN.

Nothing more, and maybe just a bit less.


Pairs Well With...

BUDWEISER.

Because nothing screams “no excitement and no surprises” like Bud.

They like to get the landmarks.”

 

Twenty years ago, Independence Day debuted as one of its decade’s ultimate summer movies.  It was a classic 1950s alien invasion flick rewritten for an age of huge budgets and massive special effects, and under the direction of Roland Emmerich, it came to the big screen not just as a movie, but as an experience.

Yeah, it was (heavily) flawed, but that first time at the multiplex, it was fun. Especially when the super gigantic spaceship made the White House explode.

Flash forward to 2016, and the suits and the accountants have finally convinced Emmerich and company to have another go at it.  Independence Day: Resurgence is pretty much the same thing run through the recycler, and with “unimaginative sequel mentality” written all over it, it comes to the stereoscopically enhanced big screen not so much as a movie, but as a flagrant cash grab that looks like it’ll at least do great in China.

Yup, it’s (even more heavily) flawed, and looking at it through those funky glasses they hand out at the multiplex, it’s soulless.  Especially when the incomprehensibly silly 3000 mile wide spaceship spends five minutes generating its own gravity and some lesser ships make unimpressive digital matchsticks out of the Tower of London and several of its architectural friends.

When the character of David Levinson (or is it Ian Malcolm?) notes that they (the aliens) like to get the landmarks, it sounds suspiciously like Jeff Goldblum accidentally breaking the fourth wall to note that they (the suits) just put another checkmark on the laundry list.  Like so many other tentpoles that have come down the pipe since Michael Bay figured out how to break open the Chinese box office piggy bank, Independence Day: Resurgence feels way less like an awesome adventure flick than it does a simple commodity.  Yes, the ships are there, and yes, the landmarks blow up, but it just doesn’t resonate.

That lack of resonance goes beyond the expected shallow story and largely forgettable human characters (exceptions in a moment); to be honest, the first Independence Day had the exact same problems.  But in the case of Independence Day: Resurgence, there’s no gravitas to make the eye candy feel like something greater than a couple hours’ worth of empty calories.  With Stargate and the first Independence Day, Roland Emmerich and his creative teams both behind and in front of the cameras made myths; here, it feels like they’re just phoning it in all the way to the bank.  Or at least to the next sequel, which the ending of this one flagrantly telegraphs and which frankly looks like it should be a lot more fun.

Speaking of fun, most of the characters in Independence Day: Resurgence aren’t.  The newly minted lead characters are flat and uninteresting, and the performances behind them aren’t exactly drawing blood from the stones.  (This is especially true of the pilots, who make for an exceptionally boring collection of top guns.)  As for our returning upper-bill heroes, ex-President Whitmore has been made into such a shadow of his former self that there’s nothing Bill Pullman can do to save him, and Jeff Goldblum is just sleepwalking through his own shtick.  Fortunately, down in the second string, Brent Spiner’s delightfully wacky Dr. Okun (slyly brought back from the dead due to the character’s popularity, which frankly I have no problem with) completely steals the movie, and actor/screenwriter Nicolas Wright treats himself by giving his character some grin-worthy interactions with Deobia Oparei’s intense African warlord, but beyond that… there’s just nothing there.

Nothing, that is, but formula eye candy. (And a school bus full of kids, though I am very much trying not to think about the utterly inane decision to write in a school bus full of kids.)

Taken as eye candy and expecting nothing more, Independence Day: Resurgence is passable popcorn.  There’s nothing groundbreaking here in any category (indeed, the special effects from twenty years ago looked more impressive than these), but if you just want to see generic aliens try and fail to invade the Earth, it works well just enough for a single go-round.  But if you’re hoping to relive even a tiny bit of the experience that was the first Independence Day… just go back and watch the first Independence Day and never mind this one.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, June, 2016


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