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.