Saturday, June 25, 2016

Movie Review #444: "Independence Day: Resurgence" (2016)

Movie"Independence Day: Resurgence"
Director: Roland Emmerich
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 1 minute
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Earth has spent the last 20 years rebuilding and preparing for the possible return of their alien attackers. They have integrated the alien technology with Earth technologies to create a massive space defense system and military. Despite all of these advancements, they could have never expected the level of retaliation brought on by their intergalactic adversaries.

Twenty years ago, Roland Emmerich brought the science fiction epic "Independence Day" to theaters, and with massive success. Now, he has returned to the directors seat for "Independence Day: Resurgence." If you're wondering why there is another installment in this franchise, just check its box office numbers to see the proof. It's also no surprise it came out this year, considering this is the year of the long-awaited sequel. Boasting impressive eye-candy, the effects in "Resurgence" somehow don't feel as timeless as the ones from the original which, once again, are 20 years old, but are still flashy and fun to look at. These effects are well executed, but considering its $200 million price tag, they better have some damn good graphics. The aliens, the ships, and the CGI sets all look very good. The action sequences are also great. While we do appreciate that the visuals are entertaining and striking to look at, bombarding the screen with effects on top of effects on top of effects is the quickest way to make your movie become boring, tiresome, and busy, which is what winds up happening here. The entire thing is computer generated apart from a few sets and minor practical pieces.

Many actors from the original cast return to reprise their roles, including Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox, and Brent Spiner. New to the cast are: Maika Monroe, who takes over the role of Patricia Whitmore, the former president's daughter; Liam Hemsworth, who plays Patricia's fiance and rebellious pilot Jake Morrison; Jessie T. Usher, who plays Dylan Hiller, the son of Will Smith's character from the original; William Fitchner, who plays General Adams, and many, many others. When it comes to big disaster-style epics like this, an ensemble cast is to be expected. Here, this has come at a cost. Having so many characters, Emmerich and his writers have sacrificed any and almost all real character development, especially when it comes to the younger cast members. When you don't care about the characters in a movie, it makes it hard to get invested in their plight or feel for the emotions they are trying to portray. Part of this could be because most of these younger actors lack the ability to emote properly. Liam Hemsworth (unsurprisingly) and Jessie T. Usher are as stiff as a board. These two actors sound completely unnatural in their performances. Maika Monroe may have been good in both "The Guest" and "It Follows," but she has been borderline terrible in everything since these two films. Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch are this sequel's only saving graces, getting in a lot of personality and jokes throughout the course of this mess. Many other characters are also shoehorned in and don't feel like they belong, including Joey King's Sam, Nicolas Wright's Floyd, and Ryan Cartwright's Ryan.

Finally, one thing that is abundantly clear to us is that "Independence Day: Resurgence" doubles down on the idea of an alien invasion. It's as if the only two requirements for this sequel were to: A) be bigger than the original, and B) have higher stakes than the original. When the stakes of the original were to have all life on Earth destroyed, it's hard to try and up the ante. So now, not only Earth is at stake, but the entire universe is at risk as well, with a conveniently added ticking time clock counting down to annihilation. Because of this, the plot comes off as downright stupid, super contrived, and also extremely inconsistent with its predecessor, not that there was much there to begin with. In addition, the plot is fleshed out with "Transformers" levels of full-fledged pandering, which makes sense considering many other thematic happenings reminded us of a third-rate Michael Bay-directed "Armageddon." Tons of unnecessary elements are added to appeal to Chinese and Asian audiences. China is the second biggest film market in the world, so pandering to them is pretty much the norm for big action movies now. We understand it, but when it's as blatantly obvious as it is in this film, it's just tacky.

"Independence Day: Resurgence" might be worth your hard earned money for the visual spectacle alone, but just know this movie is nowhere near entertaining in any other manner of speaking. It drags, it sacrifices character development in exchange for pizzazz in the form of battles scenes, and suffers from a lack of engagement, a lack of interest, and a lack of talent. It's all flash and no substance. We say pass until it comes out on home video.

My Rating: 3.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 4.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 33%
Do we recommend this movie: No.
One year ago, we were watching: "Shadow of the Vampire"

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