Film review: INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE, from ‘Built For Speed’

In 1996 the original Independence Day set a new high in spaceship special effects and a new low in silly-ass American propaganda movie making. Its cartoonish tale of gung-ho Americans repelling an invasion by slimy aliens was dumb but tolerable sci- fi action fare. Even though it was a box office hit that film has taken 20 years to spawn a sequel.

That sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence is Hollywood mega-budget film making at its most depressingly formulaic. Predictable and extremely derivative, it only diverges from the plot of the first film when it pulls in bits of other superior science fiction films such as Star Wars, War of the Worlds, Aliens, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Cloverfield.

The film is set in an alternative version of the present day where the Earth’s population has enjoyed 20 years of peace after defeating the first alien attack. That all changes when the sinister cousins of the first film’s evil extra-terrestrials decide to wreak vengeance on poor old Earth. Equipped with a ridiculously huge death star (sorry) spaceship, the aliens begin demolishing human civilization but for some reason haven’t learned that, in movie world, no one beats chest-beating Americans.

The screenwriters have gone to torturous lengths to shoehorn original cast members into the story, even having one character return form the grave. Jeff Goldblum is once again piss-taking computer wiz environmental activist David Levinson although thankfully he isn’t quite as smug and annoying as he normally is. Judd Hirsch who plays Goldblum’s Dad, does the same kooky old guy routine he pulled in the first film and while it’s not necessarily the sort of thing we want in a sci-fi film he’s a likeable screen presence. Brent Spiner returns as the eccentric Dr Brakish Okun and is so ludicrously over-the-top Star Trek fans will be grinding their teeth with anger at the way Mr Data is demeaned. Bizarrely, Charlotte Gainsbourg appears in this film as medical scientist Dr. Catherine Marceaux; she must be in some sort of competition with Ninja Turtles’ Laura Linney for the ‘most credible actress in a turkey’ award.

For some reason people have been disappointed by the absence of Will Smith whose cocky, alien-punching antics were a low light of the original film. He has effectively been replaced by two characters, bad boy pilot Jake Morrison played in non-descript fashion by Liam Hemsworth and the Will Smith character’s son Dylan (Jessie Usher).

The film’s dreary, convoluted plot produces almost no drama so all we’re left with is empty spectacle. Admittedly, there are some remarkable effects set pieces featuring gigantic spaceships and aerial dogfights although the effects haven’t evolved much from the first film and are almost entirely devoid of emotion and thrills. Also, murky cinematography makes it feel as if we’re peering at the film through a muddy window.

This isn’t an obnoxiously awful film like Dirty Grandpa or an embarrassing mess like Zoolander No.2, it’s merely uninspired cinematic junk food and a disappointingly obvious Gen X nostalgia cash in.

Nick’s rating: *1/2.

Genre: Science Fiction/ Action.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Roland Emmerich.

Release date: 23rd June 2016.

Running time: 120 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.


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