Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Goldblum is Off the Rose: “Independence Day Resurgence” is the Lackluster Sequel You Were Expecting

Is it safe for someone to admit that their preferred 1996 summer blockbuster of choice was not, in fact, “Independence Day?” I always preferred “Twister.” There’s nothing wrong with “Independence Day;” it is certainly a big budget fun alien invasion movie in the style of a 1970s Irwin Allen disaster flick. And let’s be honest with ourselves, it’s not really a very good movie. It makes sense then that I felt completely underwhelmed by “Independence Day: Resurgence.” My dislike of it has nothing to do with any kind of Star Wars prequel fanboy hate whatsoever. When it comes right down to it, “ID4-2” is frankly dull, incompetent, and just plain stupid.

No one really goes out of their way to praise the body of work of director Roland Emmerich. The guy is mostly known for his large scale on-screen disasters, some of them good: “2012” was goofy fun, as was “The Day After Tomorrow” but his 1998 version of “Godzilla” was a disaster in more ways than one. I’d be lying if I said “The Patriot” wasn’t my favorite of his films. “Independence Day: Resurgence” is a definite low for the filmmaker in a career filled with lows. While his films are nowhere near as terrible or utterly bombastic as say, Michael Bay's, there is a glaring sheen of incompetence in this latest effort.

“ID4 2” takes place twenty years after the events of the first movie and the world has moved on. They’ve rebuilt bigger and better than ever, while even harvesting a lot of the advanced technology brought to Earth by those pesky aliens. This world doesn’t feel like the same world from the last movie, it feels way too advanced and unrealistic. The United States now has a female president played by Sela Ward who spends the entire movie doing her best Hillary with regrettably slicked back hair look. She’s not the only one who needs a makeover, former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) has some serious post-traumatic stress issues and is in serious need of a hairbrush. His daughter Patricia is all grown up and played by It Follows’ Maika Monroe. She’s with hotshot military pilot Jake (Liam Hemsworth) because movies like this need love interests obviously. Will Smith is nowhere to be found so we have his son Dylan (Jessie T. Usher) filling in. That wacky scientist Dr. Okun (Brent Spiner) is back, somehow surviving a twenty year comma, waking up to his life partner (John Storey), which was an unexpected twist in a film otherwise riddled with clichés. Indie actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, playing a scientist, looks mostly confused throughout the film as if she either lost a bet or mistakenly got lost getting back to Lars von Trier’s set. Most of the actors look pretty bored.

Oh, and don’t even make me try to describe the film’s plot. The aliens actually aren’t done attacking Earth and send a mothership down to kill everyone, again. And again no one listens to Jeff Goldblum (or his father). Characters inexplicably die, or end up not dying in confusing ways. The action scenes are so shoddily filmed and terribly jumbled together that I felt like I was trying to decipher some three year old’s abstract drawing. There’s no real sense of time and place; characters are on the moon one minute and then on Earth the next without much explanation and in the meantime I generally lost interest. Especially in the lame attempts at humor from the film’s five screenwriters who I’ll give a break to by not actually naming them. Oh and the visual effects are just plain terrible considering the film’s budget was twice as big as the first film. And that movie won a freaking Oscar for its visual effects (over “Twister” I might add).

So yeah “Independence Day: Resurgence” is bad. I didn’t like it. It’s not a good sequel. But you know what? It doesn’t profoundly change or affect my life in any way and it’s very possibly that a lot of people out there will find it fun and enjoyable. I’m still sticking with “Twister.”  GRADE: D+

Feature Trailer for Independence Day: Resurgence on TrailerAddict.