Del and Mladen review ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’

Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

“Independence Day: Resurgence” Starring Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Jessie T. Usher, Bill Pullman, and Sela Ward. Directed by Roland Emmerich. 120 minutes. Rated PG-13.

Del’s take

In “Independence Day: Regurgance” everything is bigger and louder and brighter and more menacing that the original “Independence Day.” Alas, everything is not better.

In “Regurgance” as I’m calling it, we get a double-down dose of the original film minus the wit and charm, which is a shame. It could have been a contender for a summer blockbuster. Instead, we’ll have to keep looking and hoping for something a little more filling than whatever mindless Marvel pap we’re served for 2016.

The story takes place 20 years after disrespectful aliens blew up the White House and otherwise embarked on a massive urban renewal project at major American cities, doing a good job of tearing them down but a not so good job of putting them back up. We have finally achieved peace on Earth, thanks to the aliens nearly eradicating us. After the aliens are defeated by Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum we steal their technology and make our own anti-gravity cars and phase plasma rifles in the 40-watt range. The Chinese figure heavily in this renewal and I can safely say “Regurgance” should do well in Beijing and Shanghai thanks to this crude and insulting marketing ploy.

Unfortunately we have underestimated the aliens’ resolve. This time a much larger mother ship arrives carrying an alien queen reminiscent of that “bitch” in “Aliens” who wants to steal our planet’s molten core, turning Earth into a vast wasteland, much like this movie.

Luckily the original crew minus Will Smith, who wisely had died, is back along with a newer, sleeker, younger cadre of heroes who ride to the rescue of good old terra firma. Will they succeed?

Need you ask?

Acting is so-so. Jeff Goldblum is strangely subdued, but dear old dad Judd Hirsch is as unflappable and tart-tongued as ever. Bill Pullman seems confused and maybe a little crazy, and Brent Spiner, who plays a much larger role in this film, is over-the-top kooky and a little hard to digest. The newbies are all cardboard cutouts and about as animated as such, except for sidekick Travis Tope, who shows signs of life despite the horrible lines he’s given to read.

My major gripe with the movie is it lacks the snappy dialogue and sharp wit of the original. It has its funny moments to be sure, but they are sparse and seem to work in spite of, not because of, a diminished script that does not give its actors an opportunity to spread their wings.

Couple that with clichés, a predictable plot, several deus ex machina interventions and a scale of destruction that exceeds the brain’s ability to process what is happening on the screen, and you have, dare I say, a two-hour stretch of cinematic boredom.

If “Independence Day: Regurgance” is your kind of movie then by all means see it at the movie theater, where it’s dazzling visuals are best exploited by the widescreen presentation. But do opt for the matinee when prices are a little lower. I’m not sure it’s worth a prime time movie ticket.

I rate this movie a C+.

Mladen’s take

To cleanse my memory of the worst big-budget movie I’ve seen, I watched the best. Guess which is which: “Independence Day Resurgence/Regurgance” or “The Matrix.”

I’m still worried that I may have nightmares about the nearly $9 I spent to sit for 2 hours to watch another Roland Emmerich bomb.

IDR was mostly terrible. It was boring. It was poorly acted. It was poorly scripted and the graphic portrayal of mayhem overwhelming. If much of the U.S. is wrecked by aliens, then it’ll look like someone had pulverized roads, buildings, airplanes, cars, ships, name it, into pieces from the size of thumbnails to hundreds of feet long and wide and strewn the wreckage everywhere evenly for hundreds of square miles, according to IDR special effects gurus.

What’s worse is that Emmerich suckered many of the first “Independence Day” cast, including Bill Pullman as the former U.S. president who led humanity to its victory against the alien invaders on July 4, 1996, and Jeff Goldblum, the gentle scientist who devised the technology to drop the aliens, to star in IDR. The newbies to the ID universe – yes, there’s another ID on the way unless, I imagine, “Resurgence/Regurgance” fails at the box office (which it might very well do) – aren’t worth mentioning.

Look, I wasn’t expecting high-caliber, intellectual fare from this film. What I was expecting was campy charm, charming characters, quips loaded with defiant charm, and a charming end to the franchise. Instead, the audience was exposed to silly subplots, wimpy weaponry, and an overdose of graphic mis-artistry.

The part of the movie that I enjoyed most lasted, maybe, a cumulative 5 minutes across three or four scenes. It was the crew aboard a salvage ship used to monitor an alien beam that was boring to the center of the Earth from somewhere above the Atlantic. Sound familiar? Yes, the first Star Trek remake with the Romulan mining ship and dreadnaught Narada puncturing a hole in the Pacific to reach Earth’s core to plant a baby black hole that would implode the planet.

Another idea ripped off from other movies by IDR was the configuration and smarts of the alien queen. It/she was a mash of the Alien queen in “Aliens” and the female MUTO in the crappy “Godzilla” of 2014. Why don’t studios sue each other over blatant thefts of ideas, characters, and plots? Lawsuits claiming idea stealing might have two benefits:

Almost forgot, I enjoyed one other part of IDR. No, not when the movie ended, though that was a relief. Emmerich and his zealous graphics developers did a fine job depicting a giant monster (the alien queen) as she moved through a bright, sun-shiny day. It’s often the tendency of moviemakers to show their kaiju amid rain, smoke, or at night. I guess that’s because they don’t have to expend nearly as much computing power (read money) to capture a massive beast’s fine details. In IDR, the alien queen fights mankind in broad daylight and there was a good effort made to depict essentials such as shadows.

IDR was disappointing. I give it a C and that’s generous. This movie failed to deliver what it promised, silliness made entertaining by actors who enjoyed making the movie. I’m coining a new phrase to describe films that are supposed to be summer blockbusters but bust nothing except my happiness. IDR is a summer blockfarter.

Mladen Rudman is a former journalist and technical editor. Del Stone Jr. is a former journalist and author.

Image courtesy of Jernej Furman.

Two 84-year-olds were found dead in Destin not long ago.

They were a couple. The woman was under hospice care. The man called lawmen and said something about suicides. Both were found with gunshot wounds. That’s all I know right now. I’m sure more details will come to light.

Likely they were married for years, possibly for decades, because a man does not kill himself because his wife is dying unless he’s been in love with her a long time. There’s a kind of tragic romance to that, the stuff of songs. But there’s another aspect that is not so song-worthy. In fact, it’s pitiable.

The suffering.

Hospice does not become involved until the end is near. Its arrival, depending on the disease, is sometimes preceded by suffering – unbelievable suffering.

I watched my dad take that route. He went from a robust hulk of a man who could build anything to a frail shell who could barely walk, and in the end couldn’t even do that. This happened in the space of seven months after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was sickening to watch. For him, it was much worse – the terrible pain, of course, but also the knowledge this would end only one way.

We never talked about it, but I imagine at one point he wished he could take a pill and go to sleep forever. Had I been in his position, I would. I know others in his situation wished they could take a pill. Had they not, folks like Jack Kevorkian would never have become so influential in our culture.

Yet we continue to barbarically insist our loved ones remain alive until that last excruciating breath is drawn. Why? Why would we impose such pain and suffering on the people we most care about?

I looked around for reasons to oppose euthanasia. I am still shaking my head.

“Voluntary euthanasia is unnecessary because alternative treatments exist,” according to the Christian Medical Fellowship. “Voluntary euthanasia denies patients the final stage of growth. Voluntary euthanasia undermines medical research. Voluntary euthanasia leads to euthanasia tourism.”

Are these people out of their minds?

Alternative treatments exist? To terminal cancer? I and the rest of the world would like to know what these ‘alternative treatments’ are.

Euthanasia denies patients the final stage of growth? Growth of what? If you’re talking about some lofty ideal involving one’s spirituality or maturity, count me out. That experience does me and everybody else zero good at all.

As for medical research and euthanasia tourism, please forgive my selfishness when I say those two items will not be high on my priority list when a doctor tells me I’ve got six months to live.

I find it odd we grant more humanity to our pets than we do our family members. Here, let me tell you another story from my personal experience:

Back in 2005 my cat was dying of renal failure. Ironically, it was an experience that mirrored my father’s ordeal. The cat slowly lost weight and became weaker, despite the IVs, special foods, vitamins and medicines she had received. Finally it became obvious to me her quality of life had descended below a level even I couldn’t bear. My vet assured me I would know when it was time, and it was time.

So, I let her walk in the grass a final time, then bundled her into the cat carrier and took her to the vet’s office. As she lay in my lap, the vet gave her a shot of Valium, which put her to sleep immediately. Another shot followed, the one that put her to sleep forever. I took her home and buried her in the back yard.

I’m glad I was able to do that for her, because she was suffering. The poor cat couldn’t even lie down, she hurt so bad.

I think if a person is rational, and they want to end their life, they should be allowed to. Seems to me the same safeguards built into probate could be extended to end-of-life issues. The patient, not the doctor, would be making the determination.

Instead, we cling to an outmoded view that people can’t be trusted to make such decisions for themselves.

Sometimes they do it anyway, with a bottle of pills, or a gun.

How very, very sad.

(This column was previously published in the June 5, 2016 Northwest Florida Daily News.)

About the author:

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at .