Thursday 23 June 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence ... Fireworks washed out

INDEPENDENCE Day (1996) was loud and brash, just like one of its main characters, but at least it
was fun, and viewers could go home happy in the knowledge that the US military was still still the master and commander of the world.
  The sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, is bigger and louder: the alien ship is more than 3,000 miles in diameter and the alien queen is the biggest and ugliest gangly thing you'll ever see on screens. The cast is also bloated, and director Roland Emmerich dumps contrived and forced emotional background stories on the characters.

    The author of Double Feature, psychoanalyst Dr Herbert H. Stein, said this about the first film: "Although it has been at the cost of much pain and destruction, Independence Day has allowed us to experience liberation from the most powerful force known to man, the maternal bond."
   I thought about this as I entered the theatre. For a moment, it looked like things had changed. Female US President Lanford (Sela Ward) is going to thank those who defeated the aliens 20 years ago in her Independence Day speech.
   I appreciated the filmmaker's nod to a certain presumptive US presidential nominee, but that soon dissipated when Lanford is disposed of quickly and everyone's afraid of a queen alien in the spacecraft hovering above Earth. "She's coming" and "she knows" are uttered with prescient fear by humans.
  The thrust of the film is the US military's attempt to launch attacks on the giant alien ship and kill the queen. This indicates the film's fear of powerful and controlling women.
(From right) Brent Spiner, Jeff Goldblum and William Fichtner
discuss the nasty alien business.
  However, this woman is one tough cookie, and she doesn't go down so easily. In fact, when things aren't going her way, she shows her true colours by running around  in a Las Vegas desert and chasing after a yellow school bus.
   Viewers will have to see this ludicrous scene to believe it. They will also cheer on the US army to blow the queen to kingdom come, thereby unconsciously absorbing the film's anti-women propaganda.
   The first film had wimpy white President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) discovering his mojo when he got into a jet fighter for the firm's ferocious ending.
    Whitmore is back for the second film. His hair is grey and he uses a cane to walk. As in the former film, he discovers his mojo and bizarrely relinquishes his cane when he joins the air battle.
    He appreciates the fact that his pretty blonde daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe) gave up her jet-flying duties to take care of him. Patricia is the fiancee of unorthodox blond jet fighter pilot Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), who is towing cargo vessels on the moon with his cousin.
   Black jet fighter pilot Lt Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher), meanwhile, has to take a backseat to the white Will Smith, aka Jake.
  The film's silly plot throws up a lame problem between the two men because Jake nearly killed Dylan in training. Naturally, all this is forgotten in the heat of battle.
The spacecraft has its own ecosystem, another of the
film's ludicrous scenes.
  The only one who comes away unscathed from this film is Jeff Goldblum, who plays director David Levinson with his typical hesitating speech mannerism. Like the first film, it's David who discovers a way to thwart the aliens.
   Other supporting characters are Chinese jet fighter pilot Rain Lao (Angelababy), African warlord Dikembe (Deobia Oparei), Catherine Marceaux (Charlotte Gainsbourg), who plays a former flame of David, Dr Okun (Brent Spiner) and General Adams (William Fichtner)
   Resurgence will fail to make an impression on viewers because it's chock full of uninteresting characters who have been squeezed together in a short period of time, and because its plot is similar to the first film's: aliens come to destroy Earth, many landmarks are torn asunder, the US mounts an air attack that fails, but the Jewish character saves the day with the help of brash pilots.
   Malaysian viewers will notice the Petronas Twin Towers, once the tallest buildings in the world, falling on London Bridge.
  The filmmaker spent tonnes of money on CGI to vow audiences, but who hasn't seen tsunamis and destruction wreaked on an unimaginable scale in other disaster films?

2 out of 5 stars
Liam Hemsworth and Maika Monroe sniff each other out.


Angelababy takes to the skies.

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