We will not quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today…we suffer a crappy sequel trying to play on our nostalgia!
Independence Day: Resurgence opens with Bill Pullman giving his inspirational speech being played on an alien device. Something familiar and well liked from twenty years ago has been revamped and twisted into something not quite as we remember it, not quite right. And that’s about the state of the entire movie. We are never allowed to forget about how things went down “back in ’96” yet nothing here in ’16 even compares to guilty pleasure fun of back then.
Will Smith’s absence is felt. None of the characters feel as entertaining as smart mouthed hot shot pilot Captain Hiller. The new characters all feel bland and all of their relations to each other and their parents, all characters from the original, wash over me in an indistinct haze. Some characters are ultimately pointless, others feel like they disappear from the film all together. Even returning characters are handled in frustrating ways. The only exception is Jeff Goldblum who puts in a stereotypically Goldblumian performance. If you’re down with that he’s entertaining here. I’m not saying the original movie was a paragon of writing excellence, but the actors here lack the chemistry of the original cast.
If the characters are dull, the plot is nonsense. There would be too many subplots even if I did care about the people involved. Some developments feel overly contrived, others just don’t make sense. I knew I was going into a “big dumb action movie” and I still found myself thinking it doesn’t make sense. Clearly something has gone wrong. By the final action sequence filled to the brim with CGI baddies and explosions galore I found myself mostly bored because I just didn’t care.
That action is the only real positive to be seen here. Spaceships zoom around and stuff blows up real pretty like. From a purely visual standpoint everything looks great. I enjoyed the humans having bits of alien technology in their vehicles and weapons as a nice update from the original. In the end though it’s all just perfunctory.
Director Roland Emmerich has made it his specialty to direct movies about massive disasters. I think that’s about what I got.
Other movies I watched this week (potential minor spoilers):
Dude Bro Party Massacre III – This 2015 film that is a sequel to nothing opens with a disclaimer that the VHS recording you are watching is the last remaining copy of an 80’s horror film so offensive that Ronald Reagan banned it. I’m in! Once the actual horror starts the kills and ridiculously cheesy one liners are fun but the comedy in between is not to my taste. Gags are so nonsensical at times it reminds me of some of the weirdest odd beat stuff to come out of Adult Swim. There are a few clever gems in here, such as “This is Todd, but we call him tee oh double dee for short,” but overall it falls flat. Looks like the actors had a blast though.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping – Andy Samberg lampoons the vapid over produced musical icons of the day. This movie’s success with you is likely closely related to how often you like Lonely Island songs. For me, just about everything is entertaining with moments of genuine laughter. And damn it if the songs aren’t pretty catchy in that poppy earworm way but if you actually listen to the lyrics you’ll realize just how hilariously inappropriate they are. Much love to Tim Meadows and Sarah Silverman playing great supporting characters.