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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Fishing in the Discount Bin - Independence Day: Resurgence

Here we go again on Fishing in the Discount Bin, my weekly ramble about one of the movies I own because I have no social life whatsoever.  Today, we go after my biggest letdown of last year, Independence Day: Resurgence.  I originally watched it and wrote this on November 13, 2016.

Not gonna lie, Independence Day: Resurgence was my biggest disappointment of 2016.  I was hoping it would be this year's Jurassic World:  a film mired in nostalgia for the original...that felt like the sequel we wanted way back in the 1990s.  But, Independence Day: Resurgence doesn't do that.  It just feels...perfunctory.  Like they ran down a checklist:  "Here's the standout moments of the original...let's just redo them!" 

Maybe it's because most of the original creative team came back to do this film.  Maybe, like Jurassic World and The Force Awakens, we needed someone who grew up with it to put their spin on it and make the sequel they always wanted to see.

It's 20 years later.  David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) heads up the new Global Defense Force to monitor space for alien threats.  Former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) seems to be going senile, thanks to the alien telepathic communication in the first film.  Steven Hiller (Will Smith) died between movies, so he's not here.  According to direction Roland Emmerich, Smith was on the fence about coming on board for the longest time, but after the troubled production of Men in Black III and the failure of After Earth at the box office, Smith threw up his hands and said, "Screw it.  I'm done with alien invasion movies." 

Our new characters are Smith's stepson from the first film, now all grown up and a celebrated fighter pilot himself, the president's daughter from the first film, now all grown up and serving on the president's staff, and Liam Hemsworth as the other guy. 

It's the 20th anniversary of the War of 1996.  The final touches are being put on a new lunar defense base.  And then, an alien ship shows up.  But this one is different.  So they shoot it down anyway.  And then, the evil aliens show up to start blowing up national landmarks again.  This time, though, they have a ship the size of the Atlantic Ocean, and they're drilling down to the Earth's core for their evil purposes.  And the war is on again!

Oh, and that first alien ship?  That's the last of a benevolent alien race that came to help us.  It's the last of its kind.  And now, the evil aliens have two objectives:  destroy the Earth, and destroy the last of the benevolent aliens. 

Yeah...this really didn't do it for me.  I mean, with the original, we had nice little character moments.  We got to know President Pullman, nerdy scientist Jeff Goldblum, and hotshot pilot Will Smith.  But this time out, we barely get to know Will Smith Jr and Liam Hemsworth.  It would have been nice if Smith Jr showed more self-doubt at living up to his father's legacy, instead of just being there.  But no, he's just kinda there.

Watching it again today, you know what this movie reminded me of?  Terminator: Genisys.  In fact, every Terminator sequel starting with #3.  It's trying too hard to be a reboot and set up a new franchise instead of being the sequel we all want.  I mean, we get hints at the sequel we always wanted to see:  the ground war against the aliens that inevitably followed, as the angry aliens started emerging from their downed ships.  In face, perhaps the best new character is the African warlord, whose country had the longest ground war, and has become an expert at fighting the aliens in hand-to-hand combat.  And at the end, the benevolent alien wants humans to come with it into the cosmos and lead the battle against the evil aliens, best exemplified in Brent Spiner's closing line, "We're gonna kick some alien ass!" 

Yeah...I wanted to see the continuation of the original franchise.  Not an attempt to start a new one. 

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