Thursday, December 29, 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  This time, I guess we can skip the welcoming punch to Earth.

Independence Day:  Resurgence – 3 out of 5

Back in 1996, a movie was released on the world that would go on to be a phenomenon and something that became cemented in the world of pop culture.  There have been hundreds of alien invasion films throughout the history of Hollywood but Independence Day arrived on the scene with something new.  Thanks to impressive special effects and iconic images of the aliens destroying landmarks, including the White House being utterly decimated by the invaders energy beams, the film would go on to capture the hearts and attention spans of audiences all over.  While the director of it would go on to try and remake this film over and over again with less and less focus on characters and more attention to over-the-top destruction, the movie still had a great story, fun and engaging characters, and a lot of memorable action.  Twenty years later, Roland Emmerich is back with Independence Day:  Resurgence.  How does it compare to the first film?

Don't worry, they're not shooting that green shit at you where you are now.

And they used the alien's tech to make giant ice
cream bowls on the moon!
It’s been two decades since the human race came together as one and stopped the invading alien forces.  Since then, they’ve adapted what’s left of their technology and have been able to integrate it into their everyday lives.  Director of the new Earth Space Defense program, David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), travels to Africa to meet with a warlord (Dikembe Umbutu) who battled alien survivors that had an intact ship and Levinson learns they were able to get a distress signal out.  Soon, a ship that dwarfs the original invading ship enters the Earth’s atmosphere and overwhelms the planet’s new defense system.  The ship begins to drill towards the planet’s core in an attempt to rob it of its resources and now the human race must once again rise up as one and defeat a seemingly unbeatable enemy.

"I'm back, bitches!"

Like so many other sequels to stand out films in the past, Resurgence hits a lot of the tropes that you would expect.  There are times where it feels like it’s just trying to re-do what you’ve already saw but just make the stakes a shit-load bigger and the care and time taken in the first film isn’t seen and a lot of what you are witnessing in the new film feels rushed.  This movie is far from as fun or as engaging as the first film but it definitely wasn’t without its entertainment value and charm.

I'm sure they'll be fine.

The moments this film does the strongest is the special effects, action, emotion and humor.  While it’s a bit of a bummer that we don’t get to experience any impressive practical effects like we saw in the original, the computer effects that are presented are very strong.  Resurgence also does a great job of delivering large scale action in a similar way the first film did and these moments are pretty damn exciting.  Finally, the story does a great job at mixing in some very funny moments and even working in scenes that are capable of plucking the heartstrings.

This time his beard gave the inspirational speech.

Casting a Hemsworth feels like it's making up
for all the homeliness that Randy Quaid brought
in the first film.
Some of the weaker parts of the movie involve too many characters, a plot that moves way too fast at points, and a sense that the film is moving more towards something that is more over-the-top sci-fi spectacle rather that the more grounded feel the original had.  While the first film definitely had a good number of characters, they all felt like they had their role to play and each one was developed enough where they felt like they belonged to the story.  This time around there is just too many characters and we really don’t get to learn anything really meaningful about most of them.  There’s even the really painful moments where you have to literally watch as the story systematically removes characters from the film’s mythology in an attempt to make room for the new characters and the times it breezes through deaths of new characters who really should have had some importance to them (and have their deaths have real meaning) but ultimately came off like a plot device to just move the story along.

Gawd damn, Goldblum is really good at the horrified staring thing.

This is the next problem that is very apparent in this film and that is the story doesn’t want to take the time to develop in the way the first film did.  In 1996, the plot moved along at a great pace and everything from the invasion and their systematic strikes to how our heroes had to learn the creatures’ weaknesses and use that knowledge to defeat them was all flowing perfectly.  Nothing ever felt rushed or like it was moving too slow.  When Resurgence starts, it feels like it’s going to take the same care the first film did and we’d see this build up of how the next invasion starts and it felt like it would follow a similar pace.  It begins well enough as you see that some humans who’ve had really close encounters with these aliens start to have visions of what’s to come but, by the time this new alien mother ship arrives, the movie feels like it needs to quickly cover some events and the story goes into crisis mode and rushes through a lot of stuff and then never lets up on that pace.  They even throw in a Dues Ex Machina character to speed things along and they basically lay out the entire history and weakness of this new threat.  Not only is this lazy but this also highlights the last major problem of the film:  Resurgence loses the grounded feel the series started with.

That dog has seen some shit, man.

Even advance aliens refuse to have adequate lighting.
One of the biggest appeals of the first film (and most alien invasion films) is the fact that we aren’t as advanced as the invading threat yet we are able to defeat them with good old human resilience.  This time around we have their technology and are no longer just shooting bullets at them but rather lasers.  Sure, the first film is resolved with the heroes using one of their ships but that was a novelty.  This time it’s the established way.  Additionally, this film brings in some new elements that push this further away from being advance aliens against primitive humans and more towards generic sci-fi.  This completely removes one of the strongest aspects of the first film and really just makes this movie look less like a sequel and continuation to Independence Day and more like generic science fiction space story.

The clouds, they're coming to help stop the aliens!!!

Independence Day:  Resurgence is clearly not as good as the first film and is definitely missing out on a lot of the charm that one had but I won’t deny that it wasn’t entertaining.  Overall, the film is a fairly decent popcorn movie that provides the right amount of action and ridiculousness to be fun and entertaining but only for the moment.  Ultimately, however, it doesn’t have the same charm or the same elements at play to make this as iconic as the 1996 classic.

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