20th CENTURY FOX (2016)

Director: Roland Emmerich

Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Jessie T. Usher, Travis Tope, William Fichtner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Sela Ward

Where to start? The positives...

The catalyst of the story, a distress call sent from the aliens of the original movie being heard, is passable and actually a good plot device. It’s only natural that any civilisation would send an SOS if needed, so I had no problem with this.

That’s about it really, except a mention for Jeff Goldblum, who seemed to be doing the best he could with what he was given – which was Levinson one liners (some hit, some didn’t), being sarcastic and eventually, by the end of the movie, gurning in panic a lot.

Now to the not so great parts. The film is ridiculous. As with Independence Day, I did not expect to be flattened by a deep, thought provoking story, I expected an entertaining jaunt, tense alien battles and also some emotional interest to the stories and characters – not really much to ask. Independence Day – Resurgence offers none of the above. From the initial moon tug saving the day, to continents being dropped on others to the horrific ending with a Queen alien and a school bus, the movie is dragged along by awful, parody performances, terrible writing (this had FIVE writers) and CGI which took me back a few years.

Liam Hemsworth is simply boring as the lead man and hero, with no charisma, and nothing to make him stand out. Similarly, Jessie T. Usher, playing the stepson of Will Smith’s character, does nothing to show he’s a chip off the old block and handles his line with wooden efficiency. Charlotte Gainsbourg annoyed me throughout with poor delivery bordering on sardonic. Oparei was stiff and spoke slowly enough for everyone to understand. Brent Spiner has been replaced by someone who struggles to act. Bill Pullman was wasted, with a character that could have been interesting given the circumstances. Even William Fichtner suffers from poor lines and company. Travis Tope could potentially be the actor I’d never like to see again, such was his performance – irritating, slimy and over the top.

Asia was obliterated and dropped onto London, this was met with a few one liners, and then the fact this ship had its own GRAVITATIONAL PULL AND COULD TREAT OUR PLANET LIKE A JIGSAW PUZZLE seemed to be irrelevant after this. No more interest was paid to this seemingly normal act.

The aliens carried zero threat, whether they were gun toting or tail whipping, they stood out like sore thumbs, and the Queen of the hive looked even worse as she was about 100 feet tall – added to the fact that this species can create such incredible weaponry and defence, yet this bumbling idiot couldn’t catch a school bus full of annoying kids, just makes them seem unintelligent in the face of human panic.  Even when they’re drilling into the earth’s molten core to destroy us all (aaaah!) the countdown seems to take an eternity, the stakes have never been this low. As Whitmore was being strangled by the alien to extract information, I found myself jealous of his predicament.

The original had something about it – Will Smith’s charisma and superstar effect, a much better ensemble, a more grounded story, good visual effects, humour that was well placed and some actual suspense (plus memorable lines, “Welcome to Earth”?). Independence Day – Resurgence leans far too heavily on nostalgia, the 1996 events being mentioned frequently, characters seemingly attempting to replicate original characters (Miller and Jimmy Wilder??) and over reliance on effects which just don’t pay off. Roland Emmerich was simply allowed to go mad and do whatever idea came to his mind, and it was a catastrophe – the editing was terrible and disrupted any flow the movie tried to create which only added to the issues. Potentially the worst aspect of the movie was that it was a two hour set up for countless sequels. I enjoyed Independence Day, and I really wanted to like this too, but that decision was taken out of my hands within 10 minutes.

Half a positive, there is a small Bill Pullman speech again.

We’ve had 20 years to prepare, I may need 20 years to recover.

August 19th 2016

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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