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Independence Day Resurgence (Review)

id4-gallery2-gallery-imageI am a big fan of the original Independence Day and I saw it four times in the theater and at least 3 times a year ever since. I understand that the sequel was not liked by fans and critics alike. I did enjoy Independence Day Resurgence but my feelings are mixed. I have watched it several times to sort out just how I felt about this movie. First of all, I JUST love alien invasion movies and that on its own will already earn some praise from me.

One point I want to make is that if a person goes into this movie expecting it to be similar or just like the original ID4 then they are bound to be disappointed. If, however, you approach this with an open mind and accept the movie for what it is…a lighthearted science-fiction action and adventure movie…I think there are things in this film to enjoy.

I will review the movie by revealing my pros & cons. Remember, not all pros and cons are of equal value. I will start with the cons first.

1). Too many characters. Its not that I wasn’t able to keep track of them, its just that there were too many to keep track of and that bogged down the story.

2). Not enough tension. I think with the concentration and focus on the many relationships the movie lost a sense of dread and immanent danger annihilation the first movie had. I never had that sense of tension that our characters were in real trouble.

3) Poor pacing. The original was well paced and I think the poor pacing of this movie is due to trying to cram the stories of all the characters within this movie.

Now for the pros.

1). I liked the focus on the original characters and it was good to see them back! I specifically liked the performances of Jeff Goldblum, Judd Hirsch and Brent Spiner as Dr. Okun. Spiner’s character had much more screen time and did provide comic relief and was just a hoot. For those who think his character died watch the original once again. As the alien is using him to speak through, Okun’s fingers are against the glass and are moving showing he is alive. Plus, when we first see Dr. Okun in IDR he is shown moving his fingers before he awakes. That is a nice subtle touch!

2). Great Special Effects. I am unapologetic about my love of eye candy known as special effects. This movie was a delight on the eyes and senses and for me that was very entertaining.

independenceday2-destruction

3). The Alien Queen. I am also a lover of Kaiju movies (giant monsters) and the Alien Queen was just great as a giant monster…Loved it!

4). More Science-Fiction. i loved how they showed how much the earth has changed due to the incorporation of alien technology on the human race. Although this could also fit under the special effects reasons why I enjoyed the movie, I single this out because it was done so well and it is what made the movie different from the original (in a good way).

5). Action and adventure. This had a lot of action, more aliens, great battles and ton of destruction porn!

6). Decent story. Despite the character overload the story is pretty good. I did care about the characters, I hated to see Jasmine Hiller’s character die, and it was interesting and entertaining how they all got together to save the Earth once more.

Sure, I don’t exactly enjoy it as I did the original but this movie does have a lot going for me. I am very certain this alien invasion movie will have repeated viewings in my house.

 

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The Films of Steven Spielberg: Part II

iiContinuing on my examination of the Science-Fiction and Fantasy films of Steven Spielberg I want to examine the Jurassic Park franchise. Although Spielberg only directed the first two he did serve as executive producer on Jurassic Park III. The series is based on a book by Michael Crichton. Universal Studios, with the help of Spielberg, bought the film rights to the book even before it was published. Many studios were also vying the the film rights. As I said in another blog I am not a novel reader. Even though I love the genre of Science Fiction and Fantasy I only watch those genres and do not read those types of books. When it comes to reading I am strictly non-fiction. Even though Michael Crichton was hired to write the screen play (for $500,000) many fans of the book complained that the first movie deviated too far from the book. Not having read the book I don’t have the problem of comparing the two works.

I know in the future I want to review these movies in their entirety so for the sake of this blog entry I will just hit the highlight of the three films.

1. Jurassic Park. 1993 I cannot believe that this movie is almost 20 years old!! I think the state-of-the-art special effects do not look dated today. The movie was not entirely done with CGI although this movie was the first to use CGI to such a large extent. Spielberg also used Animatronics and other models for the special effects. I have a good friend, George Cheatle, who came to get me one day in 1993 and took me to the movie saying I had to see this on the large screen. Boy was he ever so right! I felt such awe and wonder seeing the large Brachiosaurus on the big screen for the first time. It is so lifelike and real looking. Even nearly 20 years later it still looks lifelike and doesn’t cease to create a sense of wonder. I would love to go back in a time machine and show this film to Willis H. O’Brien the man who did the stop motion effects on the original 1933 version of King Kong. I think he too would have been amazed at how life like special effects would become 60 years later.

I also like the story. All the characters are likable and eccentric in their own way. I like Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant the best and was glad to see him return for the third movie. I also think the great Sir Richard Attenborough as John Hammond brings a great richness, pun intended, to his role as the eccentric billionaire. One last thing to say about the original movie is the brilliant score by John Williams. Sometimes I see film scores as the new classical music and the main Jurassic Park theme (linked below) is one of my all times pieces of instrumental music…I think it is just simply…brilliant! One pet peeve of mine: As a militant anti-smoking advocate I find the incessant smoking of Samuel L. Jackson’s character disgusting and unnecessary.

2. Jurassic Park: The Lost World.

I have to admit that I was let down with this movie. It isn’t bad, I do own it and I do watch it on DVD. It just loses a sense of wonder the first film had. While I like Jeff Goldblum as an actor, the portrayal of Dr. Ian Malcolm in this second offering is a bit annoying. He wails and complains almost the entire film. Also the scene when they are all hanging on over the cliff inside the truck as the two T-Rex are trying to pull them up just goes on too long. I love all the dinosaurs in this movie, some we did not see in the previous film. The plot is pretty good with two rival teams exploring the island only to have to work together just to survive.

3. Jurassic Park III

Although the first film will always have a special place in my heart…it was my first love. I have to admit I enjoy watching the third movie much more. It is just pure dino-action and adventure. This was not directed by Spielberg but Joe Johnston with Spielberg as executive producer. The movie features a new dinosaur, the Spinosaurus, which makes quick work of the T-Rex to let everyone know there is new big man on campus. I also liked the addition of William H. Macy another fine actor. I don’t have a lot to say about this movie. It has great special effects and a fun story that is a roller coaster ride.

Spielberg said that we can expect Jurassic Park IV within the next couple of years and the movie is in the script writing phase. I didn’t focus too much on Spielberg in this entry but for me there is a simple lesson. These movies appeal to the kid inside all of us…and as an adult I feel that it is vitally important to stay in touch with that inner child-like part of ourselves that keeps me in touch with a sense of creative, curiosity and sense of wonder about the world and the universe in which we live. Next week I will examine the Indiana Jones franchise.  

Independence Day

Happy 4th of July!! What else would I review today?

To some extent this movie reignited my interest in science fiction and fantasy movies. I remember seeing the first trailer for the film during the Superbowl in 1996. I really enjoyed the premise of this movie and it was unique to some extent. Generally, for the most part, alien invasion movies are small in scale. Except for the original War of the Worlds (1953) and Earth vs the Flying Saucers (1956) the majority of the alien invasion films featured a small scale invasion with only one space craft coming to visit earth. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) is a good example of a well told small scale alien invasion movie.

With Independence Day we are treated to something different, an alien invasion on a grand planet wide scale. These aliens are not coming in small flying saucers but in saucers that are over 15 miles in diameter that are in turn backed up by a mother ship a quarter size of the moon! There will be no lead alien wanting to be “taken to earth’s leaders,” in fact, there will be no discussions whatsoever. These aliens have truly come to take over the planet, therefore their mission is one of extermination.

At the time this movie came out I was unfamiliar with the team of Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin. Emmerich directed the movie and co-wrote the script with Devlin who was the film’s producer. The only movie they had done prior to that was “Stargate” which I had not seen at the time. Since then they have gone on to produce a slew of movies in the same tone and vein of Independence Day. In reality this movie does harken back to the B grade science fiction movies of the 50s. Although in this case they have state of the art special effects and top notch actors such as Bill Pullman, Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Randy Quaid, Robert loggia, Brent Spiner, Judd Hirsch, Mary McDonnell, Vivica A. Fox and Harry Connick, Jr. among many others.

In essence or spirit this is a remake of the War of the Worlds. Both films have similar elements. Both show a large scale invasion by aliens with a brilliant scientist leading the way and the story is resolved via a virus. Independence Day is also an homage to the disaster flicks of the 1970s where we witness various lives that intersect in the final part of the movie to defeat the aliens.

With the advent of the internet and talking with other fanboys I have learned that this film is not universally liked. That surprised me! I thought it was a well liked science fiction movie. I saw this film 4 times in the theater and it is one of my favorite science fiction movies. It has at least one viewing a year in my house. Today will be that day!

It was announced a year or so ago that a sequel is in development. Part of “what’s in the hopper” Thursdays I will see if I can dig up any info on the sequel.