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Independence Day: Resurgence

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

½ Star (out of 4)

Director: Roland Emmerich

Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Jessie T. Usher, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Travis Tope, William Fichtner, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Charoltte Gainsbourg, Deobia Oparei, Nicolas Wright, Angelababy, Sela Ward, Chin Han, Patrick St. Esprit, Vivica A. Fox

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for sequences of sci-fi action and destruction, and for some language)

Running Time: 2:00

Release Date: 6/24/16


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Review by Mark Dujsik | June 24, 2016

Where does one begin with Independence Day: Resurgence? Well, the aliens return 20 years later (A period of time that is mentioned about 10 times before one of the five screenwriters decided to look up how many days that equals, at which point a character puts it in days). They have a bigger ship. It's a really, really big ship, mind you. It's a ship that's so large that it, according to one character, covers the entire Atlantic Ocean. It's so gigantic that it possesses its own field of gravity, meaning that it pulls the entirety of Beijing into its orbit when passes over the city. The vessel begins to slow down above London, which sends the former metropolis raining down on the latter (At least the conceit of that destruction is new).

The returning aliens' plan is, again, to wipe out humanity and take the planet Earth's natural resources—specifically, to drill to the planet's core and drain it of magma. The plan to wipe out humanity is apparently secondary this time around, although it really should be pretty simple when the aliens are using a ship that can literally rip an entire city from the ground just by flying over it. Step one of the aliens' plan probably should have been to fly around the planet. Bye-bye, humans.

That would have been the smart plan. This is a movie that depends on an equal level of stupidity between the alien invaders and the human defenders. We learn, for example, that David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) has spent 20 years wondering where to find a mysterious signal coming from Earth and going into deep space that began as soon as the first alien mothership was destroyed 20 years ago. For some reason, neither he nor anyone on the planet has considered that they maybe, possibly should look at the one alien ship that remained on Earth after the War of '96. As it turns out, that would have been a good place to look.

These aren't particularly intelligent people, though. Take Catherine (Charlotte Gainsbourg), the only female scientist of any note in the movie, who has been studying alien symbols since 1996. At one point, she has to ask someone what gravity is. It'd be too easy to call it sexism on the part of the screenwriters, because, as has been previously mentioned, just everyone here is pretty dense.

It seems pretty obvious that all of the actors here realize it, too. There isn't a single convincing performance in the movie. When one takes into account how often these actors are seen in front of a green screen or sitting in some flying vehicle, it's perfectly understandable.

The only things the performers have to do here are toss out glib one-liners, yell, cheer, and display vague traces of worry for the fate of every human being on the planet. Some of the characters here include Liam Hemsworth as a hotshot fighter pilot, Jessie T. Hiller as another hotshot pilot, Maika Monroe as the Hemsworth character's fiancée (who was once a hotshot pilot), and Travis Tope, Nicolas Wright, Judd Hirsch, and Brent Spiner as the comic relief. Bill Pullman returns as the former President, whose tendency to make big speeches at any opportunity is comic relief of the unintentional variety (and who, in case one needs the reminder, was also once a hotshot fighter pilot).

The worry the characters show can only be vague, of course, because director Roland Emmerich thinks all of this is a hoot. Having destroyed almost every notable landmark in the first movie (David jokes about that as he watches London being destroyed), he and his fellow screenwriters (Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin, and James Vanderbilt) now need to somehow up the stakes. Enter the 3,000-mile wide ship, which penetrates Earth's atmosphere in a bland haze of smoke and flame (All of the effects are, at best, unconvincing or, at worst, indecipherable on account of the movie's hyperactive style). The ludicrous amount of devastation that this thing causes allows Emmerich to have it both ways: It's widespread enough that he can say it's definitely bigger than the last time, and it's impersonal enough that every other scene can be played for strained attempts at humor.

Independence Day: Resurgence is a painful, obtuse exercise in a most cynical and useless form of cash-grabbing (The ending promises another sequel). It also has a climax that features characters shooting a giant alien in the derrière before the creature lets out a gaseous explosion, which might as well serve as definitive proof that nobody involved in the movie cared about it in the slightest.

Copyright © 2016 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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