Independence Day: Resurgence

INDEPENDENCE DAY:RESURGENCE. Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A.Fox, and Sela Ward. Directed by Roland Emmerich. Rated M (Science fiction themes and violence).120 min.

This American science-fiction disaster film is the sequel to the 1996 movie, "Independence Day", which ranked as one of the highest-grossing films of all time when it was made. The same Director (Roland Emmerich) is involved, and four of the original actors (Pullman, Goldblum. Hirsch, and Fox) return to act in the sequel.

The scene is set in the movie 20 years after an alien invasion from outer space, that was repulsed against all expectation by a resolute few. The aliens have risen again into activity ("resurgence"), and attack again. They begin destroying some of Earth's most significant landmarks.

This time around, the aliens have a much larger battle-fleet which makes them more effective in their attack. Their mother ship is huge, and they use a gravitational machine which creates immense destruction and havoc. In the last 20 years, alien technology has advanced. Because the aliens attack the planet Earth with unbelievable force, the only way to survive their onslaught is for Earth to unite, and the nations on Earth come together to mount their defence against the odds.

Newcomer, Liam Hemsworth plays the film's star fighter pilot, Jake Morrison. The Director of the freshly formed Earth Space Defence program, David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) leads the charge tactically against the invaders, and Judd Hirsch returns as David's father. US President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman) has been traumatised by the aliens' ambush of his mind, and this has obvious consequences for sound decision-making. Consequently, he is replaced - before he returns in strength to make a final sacrifice for his country - by President Elizabeth Lanford (Sela Ward), who is the first woman in US history to occupy the Oval Office. Ward gives her role interesting contemporary relevance to Hilary Clinton. The film also actively revives memory traces of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York City.

The original Independence Day film won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects in 1996, and this movie uses state-of-the art technology in special effects to go one step further. The scenes of destruction are amazing, particularly those associated with the aliens' gravitational machine which shows buildings, bridges and other structures rising up, and then literally collapsing like chewed paper, surrendering to the force of gravity. Cinematically speaking, the effect is very impressive, and demonstrates a very original take on disaster-calamity scenarios that is supported by clever camera work.

A group of humans (with a little "extra terrestrial" help) outwit the invading aliens a second time around, and the film uses a script that canvasses patriotism very obviously. The movie becomes a battle of high-sounding words (like "let them pay", and "fight to our last breath") that pit themselves rhetorically against alien ingenuity, and look as if they do a lot of the winning. It is inconceivable that when the ratings for this film soar, as they inevitably will, further sequels won't eventuate. The ingenuity and scripted patriotism of a resolute and committed few have now warded off two major alien attacks, and it is hard to think it can happen a third time. But it might.

This is an entertaining disaster-action movie with tremendous special effects. Plot plausibility, script credibility, and character development all have deficiencies and play a secondary role, but are basically incidental to the film's major impact.

The original film redefined the disaster genre in science-fiction cinema with ground-breaking visual effects in 1996. This film could be making a serious case to do that once again.

Peter W. Sheehan is associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting

20th. Century Fox

Released June 23rd., 2016


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