Monday, 18 July 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence

The original Independence Day is a fun 3-hour film by Roland Emmerich released in 1996, wherein aliens attack Earth, but are defeated by Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith using a computer virus. This is a big plot-hole in the theatrical release, but was apparently covered in deleted scenes.

It was a little bit flawed, but well put together and really enjoyable.

Now, 20 years later, we have a sequel.

The story is that Earth has implemented alien technology into our own, essentially becoming something like X-Com. We have achieved world peace, have fusion drives, and an outpost on the moon.
Since the first film, all of the aliens on Earth have been catatonic due to not having their leader controlling them (except for some in Africa, which hunted humans, because this film doesn't want to be consistent).
All of the characters who were psychically assaulted by the aliens in the first film have been having visions and headaches, and think the aliens are coming back.
They do, and things explode.

Those things include Canary Wharf. I know that it would need to be recognisable, otherwise the viewer won't care, but why Canary Wharf? Surely with alien technology at our disposal we would build something better than the Shard?

The film makes no attempt to build up characters, possibly on the assumption that most of it was done in the first film, but also makes no effort to build up suspense.
For example, there is a familiar character from the first film, who gets established as being somewhere unspecified in a couple of seconds. Then, when things are starting to get exciting, this character is in peril. However, it was not established that they would be in peril, they just are, and then there is a resolution in a matter of seconds.
This feeling of being rushed and lazy pervades the majority of the film.

China is a pretty huge market, which films now specifically cater to. That isn't a problem in itself, but this film does not handle it well.
There is a Chinese female pilot in the main elite squadron, but there is nothing particularly memorable about her. She presumably had a name, her uncle works on the moon, and she is the love interest for another character.
At the end they get together, but in doing so they didn't share any development or growth, unless it was off-screen. It just is.

The film has a couple of homages to films in other genres, a bit like the first one did, but all it does is remind the viewer that they could be watching something better.

Brent Spiner reprises his role as Dr Okun, who has been in a coma for 20 years. If you remember the original, he was the main researcher in area 51, who admitted that alien technology was way beyond ours.
So why is he surprised when an alien calls humans primitive? That's just inconsistent and terrible writing.

The morning before seeing it, I watched Chris Stuckman's review of the 1990s Captain America film:


At the climax of that Captain America film, there are two fights going on, and the camera cuts between them and different angles so quickly (less than a second per shot) that it comes across as a completely inept attempt to try and be exciting, instead making the audience physically ill.

Independence Day 2 also makes this mistake, especially at the end.

The quality of everything: writing, special effects, acting, directing all greatly deteriorate as the film goes on. By the end it felt like it was simply box-ticking. Like they had a checklist of things that films of this genre do, and were hurrying to do each one.
Which is made even stranger by the fact it was also directed by Emmerich.

It feels like there is a huge amount of footage missing, and I wonder if perhaps the budget ran out part way through. That would go some way to explaining why there was a decent (though slightly lazy) first act, while the rest of the film felt rushed and looked abysmal.


My rating? Don't bother.

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