A Quickie With Lisa Marie: Independence Day: Resurgence (dir by Roland Emmerich)


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Oh, who cares?

Sorry, I know that’s like an ultra unprofessional way to open a review but Independence Day: Resurgence is one of the least inspiring films that I’ve ever seen.  Jeff and I saw it the day that it opened and, at the time, I was planning on reviewing it the next day.  But when I sat down to actually write about the movie … well, I discovered that I could hardly care less.  This is one of those films that I could have easily waited until December to review.  However, seeing as today is Independence Day, this seemed to be the right time to say something about it.

Memorable movies inspire.  Good movies inspire love.  Bad movies inspire hate.  A movie like Independence Day: Resurgence inspires apathy.

Actually, what’s really frustrating about Independence Day: Resurgence is that it starts out with such promise.  The first few scenes suggest that maybe the film is trying to be something more than just another “let’s blow shit up while stars get quippy” action film.  Independence Day: Resurgence imagines an alternative history for post-alien invasion Earth and it’s actually pretty clever.  Earthlings have taken advantage of the alien technology but society has also become heavily militaristic.  The main characters of the first film are all revered as heroes but, when we first meet former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman, with a wise old man beard), he’s having nightmares about the invasion.

And seriously, for the first 30 minutes or so, I really thought that Independence Day: Resurgence might turn out to be surprisingly clever, that maybe it would satirize the excesses of the original while subtly critiquing everything that’s fucked up about our real world.

Well, that was a mistake on my part.  There is no satire.  There is no critique.  Instead, it’s just another alien invasion film and it’s all terribly predictable.  It may be a sequel to the first Independence Day but it feels more like a rip-off of Battle: Los Angeles.  Considering what the film could have been, it’s impossible not to be disappointed by how familiar and uninspired it all is.

What I failed to take into account is that this film was directed by Roland Emmerich.  Emmerich is a director who is best distinguished by his total lack of self-awareness.  After all, this is the director who, in Anonymous, seriously suggested that William Shakespeare personally murdered Christopher Marlowe.  Watching Independence Day: Resurgence and listening to the generic dialogue and witnessing the generic mayhem, I started to get the sinking feeling that the film was a joke and that  Emmerich was the only person on the planet who was not in on it.  He doesn’t realize how predictable his movies are or that his characters are cardboard cut-outs or that the film’s inspiring moments are so overdone that they instead become groan-inducing.  One of the stars of the first film sacrifices himself in Resurgence and you know who it’s going to be from the minute he shows up onscreen.  Emmerich is not a good enough director to make his sacrifice touching.  The fact that the film ends with the promise of a sequel is not surprising and yet, it still somehow manages to be annoyingly presumptive.  The film’s ending seems to be taunting us.  “Of course, you’re going to want to sit through this shit for a third time…what other choice do you have?”

In the film’s defense, the cast is big and it includes a lot of good actors.  Unfortunately, the characters are so undeveloped that you again find yourself regretting what a waste it all is.  Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch are both likable but Bill Pullman seems to be incredibly bored with the whole thing.  Liam Hemsworth, Jessie Usher, and Maika Monroe are all stuck playing typical Emmerich ciphers.

I should mention that, despite how negative this review may sound, I did not hate Independence Day: Resurgence, at least not in the way that I’ve hated other films, like Anonymous or the remake of Straw Dogs.  My problem with Resurgence isn’t that I hated it or even that I disliked it.  It’s that I didn’t feel much about it, one way or the other.  It’s one of those film that is best described as “just kinda being there.”  Apathy is the worst thing that a film can inspire.

Perhaps the best thing about Independence Day: Resurgence is that Roland Emmerich has protected the holiday from being co-opted by Garry Marshall.

Here’s the Trailer for Robotec…I mean Independence Day: Resurgence


Independence Day Resurgence

For decades fans of Robotech (Macross everywhere else in the world) have been hoping for a live-action film adaptation of this very iconic anime series from Japan. Many Westerners had their first introduction to anime after watching the localized version of the original Japanese series Macross. There have been some traction to get the live-action film up and running but rarely past pre-production stage.

With special effects advancing to the point that we can almost recreate dead people back to life via digital trickery, entire worlds astronomers could only dream of and fantastical lands and creatures it’s high time we got a live-action Robotech film. We fans deserve such a gift.

For now, let’s settle for Independence Day: Resurgence which seems to lift certain elements from the anime series spoken of above to make up the plot of the sequel to 1996’s blockbuster hit, Independence Day.

Independence Day: Resurgence is set for a June 24, 2016 release date.

Shattered Politics #74: The Aviator (dir by Martin Scorsese)


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“The way of the future.” — Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) in The Aviator (2004)

As I recently rewatched the 2004 best picture nominee, The Aviator, I realized that, in the film’s scheme of things, Ava Gardner was far more important than Katharine Hepburn.  (Or, perhaps it would be more appropriate to say that Kate Beckinsale’s Ava Gardner was far more important than Cate Blanchett’s Katharine Hepburn.)

Over the course of the film, both Hepburn and Gardner are involved with billionaire-turned aviator-turned film director Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio).  Throughout the film, Katherine is portrayed as being flighty, pretentious, and overdramatic.  There’s a lot of dark humor to the scene where Katherine breaks up with Howard, largely because Katharine is incapable of not acting as if she’s making a film.  Her every word is so carefully rehearsed that you have to agree when Howard says that she’s incapable of not giving a performance.  Ava, on the other hand, is always direct.  She has a sense of humor.  She has no trouble telling Howard off.  Whereas Katharine put on airs of being an incurable romantic, Ava tells Howard flat out that she doesn’t love him and is only using him to forward her career.

But, while Katharine Hepburn gets more screen time, it’s Ava Gardner who actually saves Howard’s business.  Towards the end of the film, after Howard has had a nervous breakdown and has locked himself in a hotel room, it’s Ava who suddenly shows up, cleans him, and dresses him.  She’s the one who gives Howard the strength to leave his room and to face down the corrupt senator (Alan Alda) who is investigating his business.

Of course, Howard Hughes is best known for once being the world’s richest recluse.  In the 1960s, Howard locked himself away in a hotel room in Las Vegas and spent the next decade laying naked in bed and watching television.  The Aviator doesn’t deal with this period of Howard’s life but it’s full of scenes where we catch glimpses of Howard’s future.  Throughout the film, we watch as Howard obsessively washes his hands.  We watch as he gives precise instructions on how even the simplest of tasks are to be accomplished.  We watch as he grows increasingly paranoid about the germ-filled outside world.  The film suggests that Howard’s obsessive compulsive disorder both served to make him a great engineer and a great filmmaker while, at the same time, ultimately destroying him.

The Aviator was the second film that DiCaprio made with Scorsese.  And, as bad as DiCaprio may have been in Gangs of New York, he’s absolutely brilliant in The Aviator.  As a character, Howard Hughes has so many quirks and tics that it would have been easy for DiCaprio to go overboard.  Instead, he gives a surprisingly subtle performance.  And, even more importantly as far as I’m concerned, he actually sounds authentically Texan when he speaks.

In many ways, much of The Aviator reminds me of Gangs of New York.  Both films are gorgeously produced period epics that try to cover a lot of material.  Both films are absolute cat nip for history nerds like me.  But, whereas Gangs of New York leaves one feeling vaguely dissatisfied, The Aviator actually improves with subsequent viewings.  Whereas the action in Gangs had no center, The Aviator revolves around Howard and the actor playing him.

While the Aviator starts off with Howard making movies and romancing Katharine Hepburn, it’s at its best when Howard appears before a committee chaired by Sen. Owen Brewster (Alan Alda) and passionately defends both himself as an engineer and a businessman and the right of innovators everywhere to freely pursue their passion.  The film suggests that Brewster was bribed by Howard’s main business rival, Juan Trippe (Alec Baldwin, in unapologetic villain mode), and it’s hard not to applaud when Howard stands up for himself.

Speaking of which, it’s odd, so soon after reviewing Alan Alda in The Seduction of Joe Tynan, to see Alda playing a far less ethical politician in The Aviator.  That said, Alda’s corrupt performance in The Aviator is a hundred times better than his cutesy work in Joe Tynan.  If anything, Alda gives a performance here that will remind everyone of why they don’t care much for their congressman.

The Aviator was nominated for best picture but it lost to the far more low-key Million Dollar Baby.  Scorsese would have to wait until the release of The Departed for one of his films to finally win best picture.