Friday, 26 August 2016

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Twenty years later, same director, same producer, same writer, same poster, same plot, virtually the same cast, same spiel, same shit, how can the same shit happen to the same planet twice...ugh! Yes its the perfect recipe for another modern reboot, no wait...remake, no wait...prequel, no wait...sequel, ah there we go, got it at last. I mean look at this thing, they've literally gone down the same damn cookie cutter route that every other bloody sequel, reboot, remake...whatever, goes down. Right down to the stupid title, its not 'Independence Day 2', oh no because that would be too simple and dull, not cool enough.

So the plot sees Earth 20 years after the first movie with mankind having utilised the grounded alien technology left behind. Humans now have much better ground and air transportation, weapons and general all round technology that has allowed space stations, space weapons, space ships, moon bases etc...This is by far the best thing about this movie, sure it seems like an obvious step to take but it could of been so easily been missed or ignored. Now that's not to say I liked everything they came up with though, whilst the idea is a drooling prospect unfortunately some of the designs are a bit crap. I guess the fighter jets that can now travel into orbit were cool but nothing special to look at, sensible I suppose. Where as the space tug-like crafts with the long insect-like leg sections were downright daft lookin' if you ask me. They looked like the revamped Blue Midget designs from 'Red Dwarf'. Alien craft wise everything pretty much looked the same which was a tad boring, sure it was bigger but that aspect became a bit comical really. The mothership is so big in this sequel it covers entire oceans for Pete's sake! In fact the damn ship was so big it didn't even seem to fit on the ruddy film! I could hardly make it out because it went above and beyond the edge of the actual film. It has its own gravitational pull, its own eco-system inside, it looked like a big leech sucking on the Earth from space, which I guess was the idea.

The movie follows the same premise as before with one major change, this time there is actually another alien race that pops out of a wormhole to try and help mankind. So they shoot it down...Americans eh. Also, everyone seems to be rather blase about the whole wormhole thing, are these phenomena known about in this universe? This idea does add more juice to the proceedings as everything else is virtually identical to the original movie. When I say identical, I mean identical. Will Smith (Steven Hiller) is gone but replaced by a young Will Smith-esque actor portraying his characters son (Dylan), minus everything that was fun about Will Smith. But I did actually like the fact they killed off Smith's original character, sure they kinda had to but it was still a bold move because Smith could of easily changed his mind for the inevitable third movie. I also felt it added a bit more realism to the film because it would be dull as dishwater if Smith's character was there being all invincible again, literally a carbon copy of the original.

But anyway similarities that are bloody obvious and frankly rather pointless, hmmm lets see. Bill Pullman is back as the ex-President Whitmore and yes he does indeed give another rousing speech which is not epic like previously but actually rather cringeworthy (mainly because the last speech was so epic, and that pilots all American salute!). Jeff Goldblum's is back as David Levinson, being all kooky and Goldblumish, he does his usual routine of saying cool and quirky taglines and quips. Judd Hirsch is also back as Julius Levinson, the father to Goldblum's character, being very stereotypically Jewish, quirky and amusing, but ultimately pointless. Hirsch only seems to be there to literally add some comic relief and continuity because he literally does nothing accept escape from certain death in an improbably ridiculous way. Also defying death is Brent Spiner as the loony Doctor Okun who we all thought got killed off in the original film, but as it turns out he merely went into a coma and now has some form of psychic link to the alien Queen. Unlike Hirsch, Spiner has the fortune to be playing a character that does actually add more to the movie by continuing his wacky science expert shtick, by helping with weapons testing and unlocking the new friendly alien tech. Plus he's reasonably amusing still too, even with the unbelievably bad acting. Lastly we also have Vivica A. Fox back as Jasmine, the (now) widow to Will Smith's character. Now if ever there was a throwaway, pointless character it was this unlucky lady because she is merely in the movie to die tragically in front of her son (Dylan) in a hyper cliched moment that is both laughable and convenient. Convenient because Dylan turns up in his fighter jet just in time to witness his mother plunge to her death from the roof of a crumbling hospital, noooooooooo!! (but she managed to save a baby first, hurrah! death justified).

So yeah, back to the other aliens that turn up out of the blue. Yeah no one is shocked or amazed by this at all, they all take it rather calmly and as if its nothing new (before blasting them out of the sky). These aliens are in fact key to the movie because they add an entirely new angle to the film which both sets up the finale and franchise. I did like this angle I must admit, we don't get to see these new aliens which is nice, it adds more intrigue, and their backstory is also errr...intriguing, if somewhat corny too. A galactic planet for alien refugees? really? playing on contemporary politics there I see. Speaking of the aliens, one scene I really didn't follow which concerned the baddie aliens and their abandoned ship parked up in Africa. Did the good guys literally only just find this ship? or did the local warlord allow westerners into his domain to inspect it for the first time? If the latter, how is that even possible seeing as its so vast, plus why would an African warlord want to keep officials away from an alien ship just after the near obliteration of mankind. 

As for things like the effects, the meat and veg of the movie, well its all a bit of a mixed bag again folks. Firstly there is a terrible amount of obvious greenscreen going on here, it can look really tacky at times. Whilst some shots of alien craft and space scenes do look gritty and realistic, others literally look like a TV movie at times, oddly cheap looking. None of this is helped by the absolutely atrocious editing in this film, my God!! I swear to you this movie jump around like a grasshopper on caffeine. The scenes jump from one to the other and are all over the place, one minute we might be in space, next minute we're back to Earth, then back in space, then focusing on one person, then suddenly another. It might sound normal but trust me it looks terrible and really overly fast, plus many scenes are very short. You zip into one scenario for a few seconds before zipping out into another, and half the time it doesn't seem necessary, it feels like you're watching extended, pointless scenes off the cutting room floor. This is highlighted even more so with battle scenes between human fighters and alien crafts. Jesus Begorrah! you can hardly tell who's who! All the ships looks the same, there is no way of telling them apart, sure it can looks flashy and Star Wars-esque but overall its a flashy CGI mess of laser bolts. 

As for the alien invaders, well they look as good as before which was nothing massively impressive to be honest. I still don't get how their exoskeleton battle suits work though, in one scene we see the African warlord stab an alien in the back and this causes the alien to leave its protective suit injured. But how would the blade do this? Surely the exoskeleton battle suit can withstand a simple blade? and even if it couldn't was the blade that big and sharp enough to cut so deep into the suit to injury the alien inside?? These aliens are pretty small so I'm assuming there is actually a bit of space within the much larger suit. It just seemed so very weak that this big, tough, undeniably cool looking battle suit was beaten by a human machete. Speaking of looking cool, lets segway onto the Queen alien who did actually look pretty darn cool. Yeah sure she did kinda look like a large horse with goat-esque legs and tentacles, but its all about that face mask and her size. The effects were quite good I thought, believable, cheesy, fun, cool, plenty of tentacle action and she looked good against the desert location. My only thought was, was she maybe too big? we're talking King Kong size here, fit in the ship much? Also her huge, made to fit gun looked kinda stoopid as any oversized gun tends to. Lastly, I get that these aliens act like a bee or any colony, but I don't get why the aliens would immediately break off their attack just because the Queen dies, especially when they're clearly winning. If they are so advanced you'd think they would be able to think for themselves and realise they could still win.

I have moaned a lot and picked upon a few things sure. I mean, the blatantly obvious casting of a few Chinese actors purely to break into the massive Chinese market right now was pretty hard to swallow really. Had I not known about this I wouldn't have thought anything of it, but we all know of this so its so very very obvious. The levels of cheese and ham on show here was easily higher than your average BP petrol station sandwich offerings. The young hotshot jet pilot Dylan who fell out with the other young hotshot jet pilot Jake (Liam Hemsworth) because of a training incident which almost killed Dylan. Man there was some real cornball 'Top Gun' jaw clenching going on there I can tell you, some real Goose cloning bullshit right there (had one of them died). Oh yeah! Hemsworth is in this too, totally forgot about him because he's so fundamentally forgettable, being all somewhat blonde but not entirely, a real plank of wood. Love all the manly shots of these guys striding around their stations in their natty jumpsuits, such hilarious levels of macho baloney. They even get into a fight at one point...but Jake shrugs it off and covers for Dylan, you know, because he's the man and everything, the uber cool boss.

So did I like ID42? Well, its generally totally naff, the effects are generally (and somehow) worse than before, the cast perform pretty poorly, its essentially the same guff washed, rinsed and repeated, oh and it feels like padding for the third movie. No spoilers because they actually fucking tell you in the last bit of dialog. So did I like it? yes! yes I actually did like this shitty movie, and I'm not really sure why. Is it merely me trying to buck the current trend and go against the general, popular consensus? Despite me wanting to say yes, no, no its not. Call me crazy but for some reason I did like this film despite the flaws, I actually prefer to the original. Maybe its because it felt more like a fun, fast and loose comicbook flick, more hammy than before but joyously so. The crap on screen just made me smile, it awoke my hibernating love of pure hokey sci-fi...somehow. I never liked the original because even though it was meant to be a sort of deliberate homage to classic hammy alien invasion sci-fi, it never felt like that, it felt too serious, too cliche and with too many lame emotional hooks. This just felt right in a bad way, a gloriously over the top way with a pretty sweet alien Queen running amok at the end (ID4 alien Queen vs 'Aliens' Queen much?). And yes I can't deny, I am really quite intrigued to see the baddie alien homeworld and the alien refugee planet with array of aliens, if there's a third movie.