Friday, 24 June 2016

Review: Independence Day - Resurgence

Independence Day: Resurgence (3D)
Cert: 12A / 120 mins / Dir. Roland Emmerich / Trailer

So it turns out I did the right thing by going home halfway through last night's ID4 double-bill after all. I'll say from the outset that I didn't actively dislike Independence Day: Resurgence, but I had so many gripes with it that I'm glad I didn't sit up until the small hours having them thrown at me immediately after the first lot...

The film opens twenty 'real-time' years after the events of Independence Day, in the radically different 2016 that sprang from the events of that movie. But rather than let the social and technological details of this timeline seep through to the audience over the course of the first act, the screenplay mechanically explains them all in very small words, with a pseudo-narration to begin with, followed up by the exposition-heavy conversation that no-one has, even in fiction ("Alright Terry, how's your alien-powered magic bladeless helicopter like we all have here in the present day?").

The film spends so much time explaining minutiae and introducing characters we don't need to meet, that it almost forgets to be a movie about aliens who want to smash the living-shit out of the Earth. Almost, but not quite. There's more up-close ET involvement in this sequel I'm glad to say, and while they're still effectively personality-free drones, the film's best scenes are the melee and ground-battle engagements. The rest is entirely formulaic blockbuster fluff, though.

Now, unlike the modern breed of city-smashing superhero movies, Resurgence doesn't spend its climactic battle committing bystander-genocide. No, it does this off-handedly in the middle of the film, apparently for no other reason than making our heroes pull slightly concerned faces at monitors and news reports as millions of civilians die because they were in the wrong hemisphere at the wrong time. Still, as any good despot knows, the more you kill, the less it seems to actually matter, somehow.

Another regular complaint of modern movies is that the CGI effects feel hollow and without punch while the cast over-emote against greenscreen backdrops. But the opposite seems to be in play here, as the film's visuals are detailed and vibrant, while it's the acting that's completely weightless. Roland Emmerich seems completely satisfied that his cast have learned their lines, so he doesn't bother getting them to put any actual feeling into reciting them. No-one appears to be enjoying themselves on-set (although with a script as laboured and cumbersome as this, it's hardly surprising), and as I've seen most of the cast be much better elsewhere, that's got to come down to poor direction.

This really feels like a generic alien-invasion movie that's been retrofitted with Independence Day continuity in its third draft, presumably on the promise of a bigger budget. While Independence Day: Resurgence is distracting enough, I didn't exactly find it entertaining.

It's not that the film left me with nothing afterwards, more that it left me with nothing while I was watching it...

Best bit: How, when ex-president Whitmore has his third-act hero shave and pops on his old flight suit, he suddenly doesn't need that walking stick any more. #Bang! #Heroism!

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
I can imagine fans of San Andreas loving this.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
For the visuals? Sure.
For the performances? HAHAHAHAHA!

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Blatantly set up its next installment? Absolutely.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Cast, no.
Director… well that's a tough call. It's certainly not Emmerich's worst

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There is.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: Independence Day: Resurgence stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, who also appeared in 2003's 21 Grams, as did Benicio 'going to be rocking up in Star Wars Episode VIII in an as-yet un-named role' Del Toro.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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