Friday, June 24, 2016


Roland Emmerich’s 1996 box office smash/alien-invasion film INDEPENDENCE DAY sent audiences soaring by way of unabashed patriotism, spectacular spectacle, and simple storytelling which utilized classic and proven archetypes which were understandable and relatable. The film altered the modern blockbuster to this day, and its long awaited follow-up, sub-titled RESURGENCE, seems to have no interest in repeating its past.

Twenty years after the events of the first film, the nations of the Earth have recovered and united to create the Earth Space Defense, led by David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), which uses the technology from the defeated aliens to build spaceships and big-ass spaceguns to defend the plant. But the aliens return, this time with a 3,000-mile wide ship which is built to extract the Earth’s core. Stepping up to defend the Earth again are former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman), his daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe), and two ace space-fighter pilots; Jake (Liam Hemsworth), and Dylan (Jessie Usher)…who is the son of Capt. Steven Hiller (the hero of the first film, played by Will Smith).

RESURGENCE starts off very promising. The early moments are a fascinating look at a changed planet Earth with its new technology, along with establishing some interesting character traits with the old and new cast. Most of the characters have some residual effects from the events of the first film and are still dealing with them, and the stage is set for a galactic showdown once the big bad aliens show up again.

The film then begins introducing a hodgepodge of sci-fi elements, including a new alien species (represented by a weird talking orb), an alien prison, and the psychic connection some humans still have with the aliens. A lot of different elements are being thrown around, which leaves the overstuffed cast in the dust. Characters suddenly come second (or last), as most of their early threads are quickly discarded. RESURGENCE is a plot-heavy film where characters have no real impact on anything, and with that being the M.O., the film feels very lifeless with no real moral center. Emmerich in fact seems to hate every one of his characters. Some returning cast members are killed off for no reason at all, while the surviving ones do little but stand around with their mouths open.

The script takes a ton of liberties to keep the story going, including ret-conning a few things from the original film (a massive ship landed 20 years ago which no one ever detected, and a character thought dead was simply in a coma. Just two of many stupid-shit moments), and with so much plot and moving things around, RESURGENCE has a surprisingly bland feel to it. The film is a grind to sit through, and even when the action does begin it’s boring…which is an absolute sin for an alien-invasion war movie. The CGI is stunning in some places, completely awful in others (including a terrible looking final shot using the shittiest green-screen effect of all time), and the film has a completely fake look to it which borders on a parody. David Arnold’s magnificent score from the first film is replaced by a generic video game-like score, which adds to the blandness of the experience.

The goddamn 3D is total shit.

Acting is a mixed bag considering the cast. It’s a minor pleasure to see Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Brent Spiner, and Judd Hirsch step back into their old roles…and they do it with ease…but they all suffer from a script which doesn’t let them do much. Hirsch suffers the most as he serves no purpose in the movie whatsoever other than a few chuckles. The younger cast is flat-out terrible; Liam Hemsworth and Jessie Usher have all the charisma of a soiled diaper, and Maika Monroe seems lost. French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg feels way out of place, and William Fichtner is wasted. Brent Spiner is the only one who walks away unscathed. There are also a few surprise cameos which are a minor treat to see.

The finale consists of a large aerial-battle and a showdown with a queen-alien hundreds of feet tall (you read that right), and then settles into the most aggravating part of all…the realization that most of the time RESURGENCE spent with the goddamn talking orb was a complete waste as it played no part in the resolution at all, and is instead kicked down the field for an apparent sequel. It’s the lid on a smelly garbage can, and many unanswered questions within the film itself will have the stench leaking out anyway; not to mention that the entire film contradicts what the aliens were after in the first place in 1996. Roland Emmerich seems to have forgotten what made INDEPENDENCE DAY work so well, for its sequel is devoid of any of the old traits; fun, adventure, joy, laughs, or the slightest understanding of how to tell a story. It’s bad enough to make us wish the aliens had won in 1996.

BOTTOM LINE: Fuck it                                                           

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