The family sat down and watched INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE the other day. We weren’t expecting much, having watched the original, but thought we’d enjoy the hokey-ness factor. Oh my. In the intervening twenty years, much has changed. (Has it really been two decades since the original? Wow, how time flies.)
We have the same basic plot. An overwhelmingly superior alien force decides to visit Earth to dish out some kick-assery and is defeated by the plucky Earthlings…or, more correctly, defeated by the plucky Americans, with a few minority sidekicks thrown in to justify taking all that foreign production money! Booyah!
To put it in a nutshell, this movie wasn’t so much a journey as a checklist.
Mouthy, young, (forgettable) extraordinarily skilful guy who made mistakes in the past and who redeems himself at the end, gets his best friend back and gets the girl. Check.
Young, by-the-book, (forgettable) young woman who sacrifices her career in order to look after her father but gets back into the saddle to make her pa’s last moments proud. Check.
Over-the-hill authority figure who magically regains his mind and legs and develops the ability to fly the latest fighter-jet (or, when it comes to the F-35, should that be “latest fighter lame duck”?) in order to save the Earth in an heroic act of self-sacrifice. Check.
Conservative, smart, (forgettable) minority figure who sometimes takes over the authority reins, full of ultra-patriotism and tragedy. Check.
You get the idea. Ho hum.
I liked the reprise of Brent Spiner as Dr. Brakish Okun. As he had more screen time in this sequel, I suppose his personality had to be toned down a little this time round. To my mind, he made the movie for me. Jeff Goldblum’s character, on the other hand, (Dr. David Levinson) was a little too quiet. I always enjoy seeing Goldblum going bug-crazy in his talk-at-a-thousand-kilometres-an-hour way and thought the movie could have done with a little more of that. And they could’ve lost the kids and grandpa without anyone noticing. Or caring.
The special effects were superb, amid a boring 37-minute setup that didn’t make me feel anything for any of the characters introduced. The Chinese general, Jiang Lao (played by Ng Chin Han) who threw his weight around with abandon? I’ve had enough exposure to such types that I didn’t even shed an imaginary tear when the Moon bought it. And having been exposed to twats like Floyd Rosenberg (“Teach me everything you know about using a katana”), I was hoping, for the entire film, for him to get killed as well. Oh well, one out of two ain’t bad.
William Fichtner is one of those actors that you always recognise but never know the name of. He handled the role of Joshua T Adams with aplomb and, with Brent Spiner, was one of a few that held the entire film on their shoulders. I also include Deobia Oparai (who played Dikembe Umbutu) in his role of African warlord and, if there’s yet another sequel (and I can force myself to watch it), hope to see him get more air time than he did this time around.
Reactions to the movie from family members varied. Little Dinosaur walked out on it halfway through. She thought it was boring and “besides,” she said, “I have Maths homework to do.” Film-makers, may I be blunt? When a teenager prefers to solve composite function problems to watching a shoot-em-up film, you know you have problems.
J slept through most of it, his snoring a gentle accompaniment to the Alien Queen’s rampaging. The Wast remained with me for the entire movie. He has a policy of seeing every movie through to the end, he told me, even when the movie is bad. “And Resurgence was very bad.”
As for me…well… Like all modern American movies, Independence Day: Resurgence was heavy on effects, light on innovation and boring on setup, but I knew that going on. Hell, I was depending on it. And yet…
Unlike the hammy fun when watching the original with the kids, Resurgence really didn’t do it for me, and it wasn’t because of the creaky plot. When I first watched Independence Day, I was in Los Angeles with a friend. We had attended a Star Trek convention and decided to wind down by catching ID4 at a nearby theatre. That was a different world.
In the twenty years since my friend Paul and I watched that human-crewed alien ship launching into space from Area 51’s launch chute (aaaaaahhh), the planet has changed beyond measure. And I think I speak for the rest of the world when I say that, if we were ever in a position to want to defend ourselves against a ravening alien invader, the Americans would be the last people we’d call. Take it from me: the Rest of the World would call the Russians first. In fact, it goes beyond that. Not only wouldn’t we call the Americans, we’d have the sneaking suspicion that the Americans would be contacting the aliens on a back-channel in order to find a way of screwing over the rest of us and acting as their Earth delegates in exchange for all that wonderful alien tech. Go on, tell me they wouldn’t do that.
It is that realisation that destroyed Independence Day: Resurgence for me. The plot, the settings, the improbable coincidences were all nothing compared to the deep truth that you can’t trust the Americans (as the Russians put it, the Americans are “not agreement capable”), and so every move that was made (despite the sincerity that shone from Bill Pullman’s every expression) was coated with world-weary disbelief. They’re doing this for the Rest of Us? ::snort:: Give us a break! Since any given movie is an exercise in suspension of disbelief, this meant that the film came to a thudding halt every few minutes.
Of course, if you know absolutely nothing about history, American foreign policy, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Vietnam, Grenada, Guatemala, El Salvador, Laos, Ukraine, Haiti, Bosnia, Honduras and basically the entire South American continent, with American military presences in more than 150 countries around the world (see this, albeit three years old), you might find Independence Day: Resurgence mildly entertaining at best. For the rest of us in the real world, however, it borders on grotesque.
Only due to the named actors and the special effects, Resurgence gets an average of 3 / 10 from the family.
(Featured image of popcorn courtesy of hyena reality at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)