Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer: Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, and James Vanderbilt
Cinematographer: Markus Förderer
by Jon Cvack
I was impressed with how difficult it was to find this movie in theatres. One week it was here and everyone was excited, then it arrived and the few reviews I did read were abysmal. I had a meeting downtown and saw it playing at the Regal which is one of the last few middle-class movie theaters, costing $8 to a packed house full of young kids who could not keep their phones down until the action began.
This movie is so terrible that it’s almost a Perfect Bad Movie, involving an African Warlord who operates in some bizarre subplot, a dialogue exchange - when narrowly escaping an attack on the moon - stating, “Did you pee your pants?...Yeah me too”, all with a 3,000 mile wide alien spaceship. It’s tough to know even know where to begin as it’d probably be quicker and easier to list the few things that did work opposed to the ones that didn’t.
First problem is that the writers seemed to want to ride the wave of Young Adult Sci-Fi (by the likes of Hunger Games, Divergent, and Enders Game), failing to have the forethought that perhaps by the time this movie arrived it’d be far played out. With the last Divergent film “Insurgent” having bombed and the news that the next will take the unprecedented move in premiering on television, you can see where some strategizing might have been apt (I mean, the fact that this film is not simply Independence Day 2, but “Resurgence” just goes to show how much they wanted to capitalize on an ailing trend).
We get Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), who’s another addition to the onslaught of strong featured, ridiculously handsome men by the likes of Chris Pine, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt, and Co. With grand inspiration we discover that Morrison is a cocky young pilot, about 23 or 24 years old, dating the former President Whitmore’s (Bill Paxton) daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe), who when first introduced, is lit and composed in such a way that she looks to be in her teens, making Jake’s love professions strange at first until we finally piece together the story. As with Ender’s Game, it was this focus on low to mid-20 somethings who are ostensibly the only ones capable of beating the aliens that really pulls me out of the film.
On account of beating the aliens, the world has seen a rapid development of technology (which is kind of a cool idea) with “anti-gravitation” spacecraft that can go to the moon in back within a few minutes. There’s a base on the moon that’s basically a shipping facility and/or alien look out, becoming the first victim of attack when the 3,000 mile wide spaceship finally arrives (so large it has its own gravity, as gratuitously stated by one of the characters).
David Levinson makes a return, introduced in a caravan that’s heading to a rural African tribe that’s situated below one of the destroyed ships from the first film. I was in near shock with this first scene, as it was complete with skulls on poles, positioned at the entrance of the camp, and truly looked like one of the poorest uses of CGI and Set Design I’ve seen in recent times. Like, the way you would make fun of a cheap set is what this looked like - both in the overall purpose (as in they couldn’t think of a better way to introduce Levinson than the grossly uninspired location of an African War Tribe), and the mechanics of how it was made. The lighting was terrible, clearly shot with a poor mixture of green screen and a very few practical location pieces (primarily the skull poles).
Stay tuned for Part 2...
BELOW: Unfortunately I can't find the clip with the African warlords, so here's one where a bunch of shit blows up, as seen in nearly every Summer Blockbuster of the last half decade
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