8-14 July 2016 #816

Independence Day: Resurgence

The laughs are few, the thrills are so-so, but the effects are pretty darned great
Sophia Pande

The first ‘Independence Day’ film starring a young, brash Will Smith was a smash hit when it came out in 1996.  Due to a dearth of real creativity and a complete lack of original source material, Hollywood has resorted to making ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ - a sequel set exactly twenty years later, and timed just right for a certain American holiday.

This is your typical summer blockbuster, directed by the veteran Roland Emmerich, who almost always yields to prioritising special effects over story, and unfortunately over meaningful, believable human relationships.

That said, who watches these action movies for the human drama anyway? If you are lucky enough to catch this film on the big screen, the special effects will more than make up for the banal love story, and the forced parent-child separation melodrama - so if watching a gargantuan alien space ship, spanning thousands of miles, land on earth and take over the entire northern hemisphere is your thing, then you won’t feel cheated for the price of your ticket.

For the non-action movie people who have no idea what I’m talking about, well, in short, ‘Independence Day’ also refers, in the world of this film, to humankind’s triumph over a terrifying alien invasion.

Twenty years on, the humans on Earth have used the alien technology salvaged from the war to prepare for the next invasion - an event that everyone dreads with every fibre of their being. However, the absolute conviction that aliens, when they can and do arrive, will be malevolent is a premise that perhaps ought to be questioned. After all, if extra-terrestrials have evolved enough in their own way to be capable to space-travel across light years might they not, therefore, also be benevolent explorers, boldly going where their kind have not gone before and with no intent to destroy? Perhaps we are projecting our own acquisitive propensities upon an innocent unknown.

Philosophising aside, this particular alien resurgence is indeed awfully mean-minded, bent on destroying the planet and harvesting the earth’s molten core for energy. As usual, the aliens look like overgrown insects, there is a suitably terrifying Queen, they have a hive mentality, and not even the likes of Jeff Goldblum and Liam Hemsworth can really save this film due to their ill-written characters. So be warned, the laughs are few, the thrills are so-so, but the effects are pretty darned great.

Despite its tepid story line the film has already made over $250 million at the box office, doing well for a behemoth that took no less than $165 million to make. You won’t remember much about it when it’s over and it certainly won’t stay with you over the years, but the fun, while it lasts, is perhaps just the thing for a few hours out of the sun and the rain.

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