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Review: ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’

June 29, 2016
By Tony Rutherford (letters@graffitiwv.com) , Graffiti

Duck, cover and hold your head would do little good against a 3,000-mile mothership of space invaders back for a knock out punch on Earth.

The first "Independence Day" war of the planets took place in 1996. Celebrating a patriotic 20th anniversary coincides with an unknown distress signal that's been sounding for aide. "Independence Day" instantly trashed New York, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. Seamless multiple location story lines assisted by director Roland Emmeric ("White House Down," "Day After Tomorrow") injecting an iconic landmark. The Twin Towers didn't fall in 1996, but the Empire State Building was among those vaporized.

Emmeric has been dubbed the Cecil B. DeMille of "disaster" flicks. "Resurgence" could be more of an outer space "Top Gun" than ground crushing catastrophe. That may be a weakness over the original, the camera globe trotting (it's been a hard year for London!) fails to stay earthbound long enough to gather empathy, which the original had even as blasting continued.

It stumbles a trite amount reintroducing characters who are 20 years older. Aside from a Will Smith no-show, other prominent cast returns. Snappy dialogue quips continue ("This thing is way cooler than a machete," exclaims an excited federal accountant on gripping an alien blaster), but Earth has learned a lesson - races and nations stand united (heeding also a warning from "Day the Earth Stood Still"), new U.S. president Lanford (Sela Ward) boasts, "We have had no armed conflict." but gender equality is still a buzz item as she listens too often to male advisors and the men grab more glorious screen time than the women (and a drab remark about a Rip Van Winkle's pantless hospital gown).

Special effects must dominate. Emmeric utilizes bigness. His images rely on "Star Wars"-styled battles, a slew of structures and vehicles sucked off the planet, and send ups to "Space Invaders" and "Pac-Man." Unlike the original, "Resurgence" reveals the extra teristrials up close and nasty with scales, tentacles, and "Alien"-like sticky mush.

Looking into doom's face these characters, who may or may not be the last men and women on Earth, have healthy heroics and bold senses of humor. The 1996 film had a desert-length rag-tag traffic jam of homeless refugees; "Resurgence" concentrates on a fleeing school bus full of child, a teen newly orphaned and a grandfatherly eccentric seaman driving his vehicle to an already crowded Area 54.

Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Jessie T. Usher, Travis Tope, Judd Hirsch, Charlotte Gainsbourg, William Fichtner, Angelababy and Nicolas Wright deliver convincing (no one laughs out loud when they aren't supposed to) performances for this summer's big blow-things-up spectacle.

Perhaps, reflecting the few women promoted into high ranking positions (i.e. Madame President), my 'she said' aide dubbed the sequel as better than the original. To ensure the best character identification, we reviewed the one night only double feature screening. My guest had not previously seen "Independence Day". I had seen both on big and small screens. It's much more eye-catching on a giant screen. For me, the first one gets a nod over "Resurgence" due to the lack of sluggishness necessitated in the sequel by reintroducing characters, most of which are unnecessary for continuity. Sit back and enjoy this film for what it is -?an alien ass-kicking.

 
 

 

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