Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Film Review: INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE by Mike Sullivan

From the moment it was released, INDEPENDENCE DAY was already a yellowing Taco Bell Collector’s cup of a movie, awaiting the day when people at a flea market would absently pick it up, snicker and then put it back where they found it. A film so disposable and so of its time, it should have bypassed theaters completely and simply released in pog form. Like AVATAR, INDEPENDENCE DAY was an enormous success that somehow managed to leave almost no impact on the pop-cultural landscape. Apart from that exploding White House scene used in the trailer (but not the movie, for some reason) and Will Smith’s hotly contested pronunciation of earth, does anyone have memories of any other scenes or moments? Not even fond memories, just memories? As much as I dislike STAR WARS and the attendant fuzzie wuzzies brought on by the release of THE FORCE AWAKENS, I understand why people would be getting their nostalgic panties in a misty-eyed bunch. Getting nostalgic over INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE is like getting wistful over a discarded Big Mac wrapper.

Taking place twenty years after the events of the first movie, RESURGENCE exists within a film world in which the characters reverse engineered alien technology for the benefit of humanity, although apart from propeller-less helicopters, moon bases with the structural integrity of a Jenga tower and the existence of slightly more monorails, it doesn’t look that much different from our world. Also, why? If the aliens’ technology was so advanced, why the hell did they use our primitive satellites to communicate with each other in the first movie? At any rate, like a lot of elements in this movie, the advanced technology doesn’t amount to much because the aliens are very big. So big, that characters are compelled to remind us about this at least twice. But instead of throwing down their puny weapons in the face of such towering bigness, the world (but mostly just America) stands tall by pissing on the floor of this stupid alien threat’s spaceship and gives it a good ol’ fashioned American middle finger! Yee-Haw! Listen up you Extra Terristicles, when all-star-Mr.-USA-American Liam Hemsworth (who is actually Australian and boring) finally puts his penis away, he’s going to jump into one of your spaceships (which he inexplicably knows how to operate) and piss on your squishy heads with your own space-bullets! HA, HA! That’s what you get for messing with “erf” (but mostly just America)! However, pissing space-bullets and murder isn’t enough. Once we kill off the alien queen, an elderly lesbian named Cheyenne who works at a vegan coffee shop (Brent Spiner. Didn’t he play a scientist who died in the first film?) brusquely shoos us out of the theater with a promise/warning that they’re going to piss earth-bullets on the aliens’ home planet in the next movie!

If that sounds clich├ęd and a bit on the thin side, understand that RESURGENCE isn’t just two hours of people trying to kill aliens, failing, trying again and then urinating on the floors of whom or whatever is frustrating them. It also has too many characters. Of course, that surfeit of characters is there mostly just to accommodate the giant Will Smith shaped hole that sits in the center of this movie. One of those square pegs RESURGENCE repeatedly tries to cram into the Smith-hole, is Hemsworth, and, for Christ’s sake, could we please leave all of the Hemsworthing to brother Chris from now on? Liam is like a Ken doll that somehow memorized a year’s worth of Garfield punchlines. I don’t want to watch him in a movie even if he’s pissing on the floor of a spaceship. But still, he’s here playing a test pilot or a moon miner or something and he’s also interacting with Jessie T. Usher and IT FOLLOWS' Maika Monroe as other test pilot-y, moon miner-ish characters who shoot things and say generic things like “Did you miss me?” and “We’ve got company!” But who cares about them? All of your favorite characters that weren’t Will Smith or Randy Quaid are back! Such as Vivica A. Fox who the film can’t kill off quickly enough. There’s also a logy Jeff Goldblum who appears to be losing a personal battle against the bottle of Nyquil he chugged shortly before director Roland Emmerich shouted “action”, Bill Pullman playing President Whitmore in such an inexplicably enfeebled way it’s like the screenwriters were challenged by Emmerich to turn the phrase, “get off of my lawn” into a character and Judd Hirsch whose role isn’t just unnecessary but so stereotypically, offensively Jewish. Imagine if Garry Marshall was called in to punch up THE ETERNAL JEW with a kvetching grandpa who just wants a nosh and you’ll understand just how awful Hirsch’s character is here. About the only element that works in RESURGENCE is Deobia Oparei as an African warlord who, for ten years, had to hunt down and kill the aliens from the first film after they crashed landed in his small village. Why the fuck couldn’t RESURGENCE have been about this instead?

If there’s a plus side to INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE, it’s the fact that after 19 movies, the world is finally realizing that Roland Emmerich is Steven Spielberg with severe head trauma. Neither fun nor fun-bad, RESURGENCE is a slog and somehow manages to be dumber and emptier than its predecessor. INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE rips the rose colored glasses off of our heads and reminds us once again that nostalgia is a virus that will never, ever leave us.