INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE
FILM REVIEW - INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE
Running Length: 120 minutes
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe
Written by: Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin, Nicholas Wright, James A. Woods, James Vanderbilt
Cinematography: Markus Förderer
Release Date: 23rd June 2016
Like being beaten around the head with a wet bag of stupid.
Entertainment plus time equals art. Bury something for a thousand years and it becomes priceless. Sooner or later, pop culture becomes culture. This goes some way to explaining exactly how Roland Emmerich’s dumb-but-fun Independence Day has garnered a reputation as a generation-defining classic up there with Jurassic Park. And why 20 years after the original, we’ve been blessed with a sequel.
Two decades on from the alien invasion of 1996, and the Earth (well, America really) is united. The alien leftovers have allowed humanity to jump forward decades in technological development. We now have jet fighters in space (something lifted straight from 90s TV sci-fi, Space: Above and Beyond) and a military base on the moon (ditto, 70s TV sci-fi, Space 1999). David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) has become a UN leader or something, and ex-Prez Tom Whitmore (Bill Pullman) is a crazy old man obsessively scribbling mysterious symbols (à la Close Encounters). When a dormant UFO suddenly reawakens in Africa, Levinson is called to investigate. The craft is emitting a distress signal, and for reasons known only to the script writers, Levinson presses the callback button. Soon the aliens are back to finish what they started.
It is entirely possible that none of the five writers involved with Independence Day: Resurgence consulted with each other during development. instead playing a game of Top Trumps idiocy-based one-upmanship. The result is a plot that looks like a collage of stupidity. First of all Whitmore is quite mad, then he’s not, then he is again. For some inexplicable reason, even the scenes requiring no CG whatsoever have been assembled with bad Chroma Key composition.
Will Smith dodged a bullet when he opted out of this mess (his character gets killed off in an oil painting). Hiller’s hero role is filled by his son, Dylan (Jessie T. Usher), an actor so bland that it’s possible to completely ignore him while he’s on screen. Goldblum – everyone’s favourite crazy uncle – has built a career predicated on an absolute immunity to embarrassment. He floats admirably above the absurdity of his surroundings and comes out of this mess relatively unscathed. But Charlotte Gainsburg is so artificial that her performance appears to have been constructed by an army of mo-cap performers and voice-over artists.
The first 30 minutes contains some of the worst “tell, don’t show” dialogue ever committed outside of a soap opera (“You’re a maverick because your parents abandoned you as a child” and so on). Thereafter, the button marked “Emmerich” is pushed and the movie becomes a clusterfudge of cities dropped on other cities, explosions inside bigger explosions, and narrative tension through digital countdowns. It’s like being beaten around the head with a wet bag of stupid. Emmerich wraps things up by setting up the possibility of a third movie. Here’s hoping for another 20-year wait.
Independence Day: Resurgence is so ludicrous, so utterly ridonculous, that the only appropriate response is to point and laugh.