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Independence Day: Resurgence

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It is a cliché to say that Hollywood action blockbusters have no plot or story. This is nonsense as even perfunctory analysis highlights that Hollywood filmmaking is, as it has been for many decades, rooted in narrative progression and plot development. Indeed, if a film has narrative problems this is more likely to be down to an excess rather than sparseness of plot. Such is the case with Independence Day: Resurgence that, despite its title, lacks any significant surging and no discernible independence from the other films it references/pays homage to/rips off (depending on how generous you feel). Set twenty years after the events of the inter-galactically superior original, Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin’s follow-up sees the nations of Earth celebrating the unparalleled peace and unity they have had since defeating the alien invasion when, wouldn’t you know it, those pesky ETs show up again (someone must have phoned home, yes, I went there, judge me all you like). David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) along with Catherine Marceaux (Charlotte Gainsbourg, who starts English but subsequently and inexplicably becomes French) have a handle on what’s going on, but the leaders of the world including US President Lanford (Sela Ward) don’t listen (if you figure out how that works out, you can have a cookie); former US President Tom Whitmore (Bill Pullman) is beardy and traumatised; his daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe) is brave if tremulous; Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) is rebellious; Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher) is angry and still grieving over the death of father Steven (Will Smith, who made the smart choice not to return); I am watching this piffle waiting for it to go somewhere. Meanwhile, other narrative threads crop up to add to the confusion, a certain amount of techno-porn sashays across the screen and, somewhere in the mix, aliens arrive and attempt the old ‘destroy all life on Earth’ thing. With so many disparate elements flying around, it is small wonder that the film feels utterly incoherent and lacks the two crucial elements that make its predecessor so re-watchably enjoyable: wit and suspense. Will Smith punching an alien and quipping ‘Welcome to Earth!’ is a glorious and far from isolated moment in the first film. Equally glorious is the wonderfully ominous first act in which the gigantic ships loom over Earth and there is deliberate and effective build-up to the metropolis-sized destructo-porn. The absence of these elements, and the lacklustre set pieces that Resurgence offers without enough build-up or sustainment to be exciting, mean that tension and therefore drama are sorely lacking, while scenes that could offer emotional weight are instead throwaway moments that leave you wondering why the writers bothered to include them. And there is the problem: ID4: R has too many cooks and they really spoil the broth. Whereas Devlin and Emmerich wrote the original film at the height of their mid-90s power, here they are joined by Nicolas Wright (who also plays an irritating but at least vaguely interesting bureaucrat), James A. Woods and James Vanderbilt, all seemingly competing for our derision. It might be fun to work out exactly who wrote what part, at least more fun than wondering why those kids in the car are there and why we don’t get more of the guys on the boat and what dramatic purpose Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch) is serving, or why these discordant elements are not tied together by Emmerich who has demonstrated on more than one occasion that he is more than capable of putting together a decent disaster film. The end result is an incoherent mess, a baffling, blundering barrel of feeble, underpowered non-spectacle that lacks wit, suspense, coherence and emotional heft. Oh, and it has the prospect of another one. Hooray, today we celebrate our Indepen… No, let’s not.

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2 Comments

  1. […] character traits to create a wounded but unquestionably badass antihero. Smith could have been in Independence Day: Resurgence this year, and based on the evidence, he made a wise […]

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