Thursday, 23 June 2016

Independence Day Resurgence: Film Review

Independence Day Resurgence: Film Review


Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Brent Spiner
Director: Roland Emmerich

20 years after director Roland Emmerich audaciously blew apart the White House in one of cinema's enduring images, the aliens are back.

(Even if some of the original cast is not).

On the 20th anniversary of the 4th July invasions, and with the world living in harmony since the incursion, thanks to a large weapon and space defence force, things look pretty good.  But those involved in the original battle are haunted by visions of a return...

Independence Day Resurgence is everything you'd expect.

And so much less.

Clouded in gloomy dark visuals and with a cast that's way too big to service decently, it's a disaster movie that revels in its special FX, its cornball lines ("It's July 4th, let's show them some fireworks!") and feels like a desperate attempt to recapture some of that lightning in a bottle that struck so brilliantly some 20 years ago.

It's also dour too as it tries to shift the balance of power to the next generation of heroes, who are given the piecemeal tokenistic broadbrush character onceover and hope that the audience engages with them. It's a hard ask, even for Liam Hemsworth as a cocksure salt-of-the-earth pilot whose heart is in the right place. Worryingly, once again, it's the guys who save the day, even though we have a woman president (Sela Ward) and women scattered through power positions.

Fortunately, Goldblum and Spiner have a blast re-inhabiting their old roles as David Levison and Dr Okun respectively and enlighten proceedings in only the ways they can. Goldblum excels at rattling off wry one liners, remarking at one point in the destruction that the aliens "like to get the landmarks". Even Pullman pulls off crazy haunted well, before delivering a speech of unity to a hangar full of a handful of pilots, with a rousing OST building and swelling beneath him.

Emmerich once again displays an eye for destruction, but there's nothing as iconic as the original White House shot - and if anything, he's taking the mickey by delivering a barrage of destruction that simply knocks a US flag on its side atop a building. Only London Bridge gets a battering. That said, as the rote CGI destruction tears apart cities and countless lives that we once again don't care about, the carefully measured and clinically executed FX look the business on the big screen.

But it's ultimately soulless; a disaster film that juggles too many characters, throws in a bus load of kids just because it can and serves none of them brilliantly. Everyone's a cypher to the proceedings as the mash up of Aliens, Top Gun, Star Wars dog-fights and the first film plays out and consequently, despite being a film about humanity's unity (a fascinating concept), it's left to the Americans (and a couple of token Chinese) to band together to save the world.

The end hints at a "We're coming for you" third part, but really, this thinly veiled tantalising tease of America invading the cosmos just fills with dread - there's no need for more nostalgia; this latest has moments of fun and an original cast that's back for the ride, but this aiming-for-guilty-pleasure sequel isn't necessarily proof that bigger is always better.

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