Posted on Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 by Angie Han
A few days ago news broke that Independence Day: Resurgence would not screen for critics until Friday — the morning after the film hits theaters for the general public. That did not seem to bode well for the movie. Generally speaking, if a studio is working that hard to keep critics from reviewing a movie, it’s because they expect the reviews will be terrible.
But those reports were only half true. While American critics won’t see Independence Day: Resurgence until Friday, journalists in other countries have already seen the film. The first reviews have started to trickle out, and you can get the Independence Day: Resurgence buzz below.
“Resurgence” is exactly what you expect, down to the predictable story beats, the laughably earnest dialogue, the fundamental misunderstanding of science and the plot holes deep enough to reach Earth’s gooey delicious center. But that’s all beside the point. You should never have expected it to be anything else.
Allowing the same blend of multiplex-rattling spectacle and ‘yeah, you got us’ daftness, Emmerich has gone all out to recapture his ’96 mojo and, for the most part, succeeds. While the occasional call-back clunks (Jessie Usher as orphaned-son-of-Will-Smith Dylan Hiller fails to sell the line, “Get ready for a close encounter, bitch!”, but we’re not sure who ever could), other riffs prove sonorously nostalgic. And we’re not just talking about another death-defying dog. Whether it’s Goldblum reliving his co-pilot jitters in another spacecraft, Bill Pullman pulling on his flight suit once more as PTSD-stricken ex-president Whitmore, or Brent Spiner making a welcomely deranged return as surprisingly not-dead professor Brakish Okun, you’ll likely thrum with the same sweet, not-able-to-take-it-too-seriously joy you felt during the first film.
So while this is utter nonsense for much of its runtime, overstuffed with people you will struggle to care about, and while its finale shamelessly begs a sequel (like Steven Hiller, Emmerich apparently ain’t heard no fat lady), there’s still a (molten) core of wild entertainment beneath the hokum. As half the free world rips itself apart, there’s something magnificent in watching humanity team up against a common enemy. If only we could manage it without the alien menace.
Given the film’s pretence of take-no-prisoners bombast, there’s something desperately feeble about Resurgence’s determination to ride the coat-tails of its predecessor until they rip. In addition to another solo manned flight into the bowels of the mothership (performed by Randy Quaid last time around), there’s also a dogfight over silvery salt flats, a puppy in peril, more creepy tentacle ventriloquism, and another patronising shot of third-world nomads cheering on a ridge.
After the giggle-free The Day After Tomorrow and 2012 it’s a relief to see a return to the anarchic, bombastic and euphoric silliness that ID4 captured so well back in the ’90s. Resurgence might not be quite as quotable, and the 20 year gap may prove too long a wait for the casual moviegoer but for fans of the original it should prove pleasing popcorn pulp. It’s silly, it’s ridiculous, it’s over the top. And it’s a perfect piece of ’90s nostalgia.
A silly, cheesy, spectacle-driven blockbuster with heart, Independence Day: Resurgence is a refreshing antidote to the grim and the serious sentiment we’ve seen trending in sci-fi flicks of recent years. While its plot is messy and it’s stuffed with too many characters, I dare you not to leave the theatre with a guilt-free smile on your face.
The big surprise here is that Independence Day: Resurgence… actually doesn’t sound half-bad. It may not be a masterpiece — or even a genre fave on the order of the first film — but it sounds like if you loved Independence Day, you’ll probably like the sequel. So why is 20th Century Fox keeping Independence Day: Resurgence from American critics?
Well, it could just be that they’ve decided it’s not worth the risk. Independence Day: Resurgence comes with built-in appeal for audiences who liked the first film. Those fans aren’t necessarily waiting for a glowing review to tell them to see Independence Day: Resurgence, but might be discouraged from going by a bad review. And 20th Century Fox has recently had some not-so-great experiences with critics. We don’t know how much of X-Men: Apocalypse‘s limp box office can be attributed to tepid reviews, but they surely didn’t help. And critics absolutely savaged last year’s Fantastic Four, which went on to become a massive flop.
Then there’s the fact that the domestic box office matters less than it used to, in terms of a film’s overall gross. Just look at Warcraft, which is technically the most successful video game movie of all time despite earning next to nothing at home. If a few Americans skip Independence Day: Resurgence because they haven’t seen any good reviews, it’s no big deal — the film can still make back that money overseas. As an expensive, effects-driven, sci-fi action spectacle, Independence Day: Resurgence is exactly the kind of film that translates well for non-American audiences.
It’s still odd that a giant summer movie — which by most accounts is perfectly fine — isn’t screening for critics until after its U.S. theatrical opening. But it’s not proof of certain disaster, at least in this case. Will you see Independence Day: Resurgence this weekend?Cool Posts From Around the Web: