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Independence Day: Resurgence User Review

  • bruce-leroy
    Appetite for destruction porn
    Review of Independence Day: Resurgence movie by bruce-leroy, Nov 20, 2016.
    Twenty years ago, I went to the cinema along with three quarters of my high school class to watch a movie. When we eventually got into the screening auditorium, it was already almost a full house, and we had to scatter around in order to get seats - I ended up being seated on the front, far right hand edge of the room (which is far from my ideal position) but it didn't matter. As the famous Fox logo intro appeared, the sense of excitement from the audience was palpable. That film was Independence Day. I wasn't old enough to have been able to see the original Star Wars, Jaws or Terminator 2, so to this day, Independence Day probably still ranks as my most fulfilling time at the cinema in terms of a proper immersive "event movie" experience (possibly more so than Jurassic Park or The Matrix, even if you might argue the latter are better films quality-wise). For that reason, Independence Day will always hold a special place in my heart. Emmerich's alien invasion picture also had a sublime marketing campaign that expertly cranked up anticipation right from the opening posters and teasers. Thankfully, it was before the Internet became the norm so there was no risk of overexposure (Devlin and Emmerich repeated the trick for Godzilla, although the campaign was way better than the movie with regards to the latter).

    Forget Zack Snyder and Michael Bay, Roland Emmerich is arguably the godfather of destruction porn, taking citywide annihilation to another level with Independence Day. However, the film (whatever one might say about about plot plausibility) worked so well because there was an equal emphasis on the buildup within the narrative, as well as the payoff. There was a fine balance from the anticipation of the alien's arrival, to the transition of the second act and the revelation of the alien's nefarious master plan. It could be argued that Independence Day is the ultimate B-movie. Not only is it a bigger budget version of malevolent alien invasion pictures of yesteryear, It is also reminiscent of the classic disaster movies such as The Towering Inferno, Earthquake and Poseidon Adventure.

    Independence Day: Resurgence picks up exactly twenty years where the original left off, and everything has been hunky dory since President Whitmore, David Levinson and Captain Hiller "kicked E.T's ass." But there was always an inkling that peace was only temporary, and sure enough, those pesky aliens are back (bigger and uglier than before) before the anniversary celebrations have subsided. The trailers didn't instil me with with a great deal of confidence, but I'm happy to say Resurgence is nowhere near as bad as I'd feared. I was anticipating a Terminator Genysis-esque turkey of a sequel, but I actually rather enjoyed it. Although the writers appeared to have plagiarised elements of the plot from (ironically) Snyder's Man of Steel, there has also been an admirable effort to inject some freshness into the storyline as opposed to a straight rinse and repeat job. For instance, using the extraterrestrial tech that was left behind to make advancements in society and defence that would never have been previously imaginable.

    Another issue which there has been an attempt to address (and is something generally oft criticised in American films) is the inclusion of other countries/continents in the fight against the aliens - the first victory in 1996 having largely unified the world. This has conveniently allowed studio executives to implement the now obligatory US/Asian market crossover appeal strategy, personified by the casting of multi talented Singaporean actor Chin Han - who starred in Emmerich's 2012, as well as roles in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and The Dark Knight - and also super cute Chinese model/actress Angelababy as the fighter pilot Rain.

    In a similar way to The Force Awakens, the return of the nucleus of the key original cast (bar one very notable omission) definitely ramps up the nostalgia factor, bringing back fond memories of the original. Pullman and, in particular, Goldblum are in very good shape too considering how many years have passed! Their presence means that, despite the absence of Will Smith, his character is not the glaring absence that it might have been. Pullman's Whitmore even delivers another inspirational speech (much less cringeworthy this time). Of the new guard, Liam Hemsworth is less nauseating than I had envisaged (Jai Courtney he is not), and I think I might be in love with the super cute Angelababy (don't tell the missus). Less successful is Jesse T. Usher as Dylan, the son of Smith's Captain Hiller - his performance is blandness personified. Maika Monroe - so impressive in The Guest and It Follows - has a bit of a thankless role as Whitmore's fighter pilot turned secret service agent daughter. It feels like a backwards step. William Fichtner is a new addition (playing a similar-ish role to the one he essayed in Armageddon). Bringing a certain level of awesomeness to whatever character he plays, Fichtner can deliver super cheesy dialogue with a straight face and get away with it.

    I'd love to say that Resurgence is a sequel to surpass (or at least match) Independence Day, but alas there are several factors that prevent it attaining that status. In his wisdom, Emmerich has largely eschewed the practical effects/model work of the original in favour of a greater use of computer visual effects in the sequel, to the detriment of the film. There is no question that the effects are of a high calibre, but at times it is like watching an annihilation porn video game - the first major alien attack is the most culpable example of this. The original had a focused narrative which spent equal time with the build-up as much as the payoff, but Resurgence does not share the same patience. After a quick intro outlining key events of the last twenty years, the sequel goes full steam ahead into the action. This impatience could be due to the modern era of attention deficit audiences, but it felt a bit jarring nonetheless. Resurgence also suffers from sorely lacking in tension or any real sense of peril. It never feels like the main protagonists are in danger despite the poopstorm going on around them. Emmerich could have learned a lesson on how it's done from Spielberg's War of the Worlds.

    As a movie, and as a sequel, there is no doubt that Independence Day: Resurgence is heavily flawed. However, buried deep within those flaws is an enjoyable movie - despite initial reservations of a mothership sized turkey. The trailers were underwhelming, and appeared to give everything away, but there are one or two surprises left intact (unless I didn't watch all the trailers?). Although much inferior to the original, Resurgence is a very watchable destruction porn tinged, tongue-in-cheek, big budget sci-fi B movie - without having any pretensions of otherwise. Good, honest fun, especially if one is in the right mood. In terms of a summer blockbuster, as a complete package, it's leagues ahead of the tedious Suicide Squad. And people with 4K and Atmos will probably love it too (but possibly not for the same reasons!).

    6/10 - 6.5/10

    Pros

    • Some good ideas such as utilising alien tech to enhance earth's defence
    • Goldblum and Pullman return even if their heart is not in it 100%
    • I thought Liam Hemsworth was going to be Jai Courtney annoying but he was tolerable
    • Angelababy is super cute

    Cons

    • Practical effects OUT in favour of an increase in CGI
    • Lack of any real danger despite the enormous threat
    • Narratively unbalanced
    • The new cast are either bland or wasted in thankless roles

    Verdict

    6
    1. lucasisking likes this.
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