Independence Day Resurgence (No Colon On Display) - This Movie Rocks (Even Though It Lacks The Shock Of The New)
Dir: Roland Emmerich
Starring Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldbum, Bill Pullman, Jessie T. Usher, Maika Monroe, Sela Ward, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, William Fichtner, Vivica A. Fox, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Travis Tope
The new Independence Day lacks the impact of the old Independence Day. We all remember where we were the first time we saw the White House blown to shit by aliens. Back then the phrase dropped for that movie was “this is the state of the art – and it shows just what state the art is in.” And it was pretty robust and inventive back then. As if the bastard son of Irwin Allen had inherited the tech that ‘70s disaster movies so desperately cried out for.
But since then just about everyone with a CG template – and generally about 400-500 backup and hugely talented technicians - has razed the earth to the ground – from the quality of Age of Ultron to the cheap disaster porn of London Has Fallen.
To his credit here, Emmerich (said bastard son – but we really meant that in a nice way!) goes for only one such big moment – dropping Dubai on London. Well, if you gonna try and top them…
But after that, he concentrates on the events around the inevitable “we knew they’d be back” re-invasion rather than the now over-used global destruction. (He even - tellingly - stops short of smashing the White House once more.) Everything in IDR (as all the kids are calling it) is still maxed all the way up to 11 – but there is no denying it’s fun. The characters –a mix of the old and the new - are drawn in very broad strokes, but handled by a cast that knows that and knows what’s expected of them. Returnees Goldblum, Hirsch and – especially – Pullman are on fine form all, but the newcomers also deliver. Usher fills Will Smith’s boots to a degree, Monroe delivers on her It Follows/The Guest promise, Tope makes his presence felt, and Hemsworth (the other one) is finally extremely personable – something denied him in The Hunger Games.
There’s an awful lot to like in Indy Day 2 – it’s big, it’s loud, it’s silly, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s a point where it feels like it’s run out of steam, but then it finds a strong final act. It owes an awful lot to Cameron’s Aliens in that third act, but it also has the smarts to chuck in a great Jurassic Park gag for Goldblum at the same moment.
Overall, it’s big and just about clever enough to wear its influences openly and have fun messing with them, knowing its audience is smart enough to be in on the joke.
It – inevitably - lacks the impact of first time around. And it doesn’t have a moment to match Goldblum’s triumphant swagger across the desert as he gets his cigar on. But it is thoroughly, thoroughly entertaining.
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