Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Shamelessly Rehashed - Independence Day: Resurgence - Review

From the moment I saw the first trailer for Independence Day: Resurgence and heard the words "They're coming back", everything screamed cash-in. Admittedly I went into the theatre with somewhat low expectations, but I still kept an open mind that maybe this could be an entertaining sci-fi flick. Unfortunately, whilst Resurgence isn't the worst movie I've ever seen, it does very little to distinguish itself in any positive way.

As in real time, Resurgence is set 20 years after the events of the original in 1996. Earth has used the technology salvaged from the fallen alien ships to advance our civilisation, giving us access to new weapons, modes of transport, and access to previously inaccessible planets. When the aliens from the first movie return with malicious, world-ending plans, we have to use those weapons to defend ourselves.

It's a weak story, and takes absolutely no twists or turns along the way. The fact that humans now have advanced technology to fight with makes this a generic sci-fi plot. The charm and draw of the original came from supposedly primitive humans being able to fight back against alien attackers, but here, with lasers flying and both sides having aircrafts that have a spacey green glow, the action scenes could have been slotted into any other sci-fi action movie.

Despite this, it's clear what film Resurgence is a sequel to, thanks to the shameless reusing of various set pieces and ideas. In one scene, Liam Hemsworth and co fly a hijacked alien craft out of a mothership, narrowly escaping through a slow moving door. Sound familiar? This is just one example of the blatant rehashing of what we've seen before. Bill Pullman's inspirational speech is actually re-used in a number of scenes, albeit for flashback purposes. That isn't so bad. It's the cringey attempts at recreating it that hurt the most. Pretty much every character has a crack at it, but it leaves the audience groaning with despair, rather than cheering in support of a strong leader.

I hate being negative all the time, so lets look at a few positives. A few dodgy, blue screen backgrounds aside, the effects are quite decent. Particularly the ending, which I won't spoil. The action scenes are fun, if generic, and the aerial dogfight at around 2/3 of the way through is just as good as the original. The scale and spectacle has also been ramped up here, thanks to 2016 visual technology. Instead of just a large explosion, worldwide devastation is much more epic, as entire cities are ripped apart and lifted into the air.

The destruction reaches almost Man Of Steel levels of chaos, but despite this nobody seems to care for the rest of the movie. There are a few inconsistencies like this. For example, why can a giant alien Queen take down an entire squadron of fighter jets, but can't catch a schoolbus? It seems like the writers cared less about making a cohesive series of events, and more about having some cool set pieces where aliens shoot laser rifles.

I haven't mentioned the acting yet. Liam Hemsworth leads, and does a perfectly fine job with what he is given. The dialogue is clunky, and at times laughable, but Hemsworth does his best. The rest of the cast also do fine, with nobody in particular standing out with a star performance. The only one who does stand out is Jeff Goldblum, who reprises his role from the first movie. He stands out in a bad way though. He delivers his lines like someone trying to do an exaggerated impression of Jeff Goldblum, and it comes across like he isn't taking his role seriously.

It's a problem that extends to the whole film actually. At times, things are so bad that it seems like Resurgence is attempting to be a tongue-in-cheek sequel, and brushes against parody territory. But at other times, it expects to be taken seriously. There's nothing wrong with poking fun at a genre - Scream managed to do it quite well - but Resurgence never really makes it's intention clear, leading me to think that instead of being tongue-in-cheek, it's just bad.

Resurgence fails to recapture the magic of its predecessor, and aside from a few nifty action scenes and some semi-decent special effects, it has little going for it. Goldblum phones it in, and the rest of the cast are okay, but nothing special. A weak plot and some shoddy narrative and dialogue choices make this look more like a big budget B-Movie than the summer blockbuster it aspires to be. It's hard to take a film seriously when it's unclear whether you're supposed to or not. I would recommend you wait until you can catch this one on Netflix.

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