Thursday, April 27, 2017

Film Week

A review of the film I've seen this past week.

I love the original Independence Day. I always did; I saw it a few times in the theater the summer I turned 20. Since then, I've never really seen the need for a sequel, and now having gotten a sequel, I still don't see the need for one. The first movie was a really fun B disaster movie. It played some tropes straight, it played some tongue in cheek... something happened with the tone of that flick that was just magic (and, having seenother Roland Emmerich movies, I have to assume purely accidental). This one doesn't have the same no-idea-too-stupid sense of elan that the original had. The movie doesn't just go for it. Instead, it tries to world build in a way that looks nice (some of the special effects are great, some are truly terrible) but is very, very dull. I think a major part of the problem is that the first hour of the movie just seems like set-up that, in a lot of cases, we don't need. The original movie had so much character packed into its first act, and the likable characters are what carried the hoary old trading card premise. But here the premise is taken with utter seriousness at the expense of characterization. It doesn't help that so much screentime is given to another generation of main characters, all of whom are lifeless, underdeveloped, and poorly acted. One girl's only character trait seems to be that she's Chinese. I know it got some press at the time, but having actually seen the movie, it's only more disappointing that Mae Whitman was replaced as President Whitmore's daughter, especially when the character is so prominent in the story. Whitman's performance, I think, would have been more entertaining than what Maika Monroe does with the character (she was ludicrous in The 5th Wave and she's just as bad here). Really, Brent Spiner steals the movie, but even Jeff Goldblum isn't as fun as you hope going in. It just feels like what it is: a rote cash grab that doesn't have any idea how to replicate the uplifting fun feeling of the original, but adds tedium, cynicism, and grim destruction to its boring saga of young actors struggling with technology, then screaming at it so it works perfectly. Even the plot is just "the same aliens as the first time, but bigger." I can't call it a disappointment, since I never wanted this thing, but for what it is, accepted on its own terms, it's just a big nothing of a movie. But hey, it ends with a sequel hook, so... see you in twenty years, I guess. **1/2

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