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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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Godzilla 2014 vs. Godzilla 1998

Now that I have seen Godzilla 2014 I just have to compare it to the other American produced Godzilla movie, the 1998 version. If you are a regular reader of my blog you may know I am one of those rare Godzilla fans that doesn’t hate the 1998 movie. I enjoy it. Also, I am not into competitive comparisons. I don’t think in terms of what movie is better or worse. I actually enjoy both movies for different reasons and since these two Godzilla movies are so different it is like comparing apples to oranges.

Although many fans call the 1998 movie GINO (Godzilla in Name Only) they do so in a derogatory manner. I may use the term GINO but not in a derogatory manner. He is much different than his Japanese counterpart and I have come to see this monster, now called Zilla by Toho, as a completely separate monster all his own with his own identity. I do love the design of Zilla. He looks menacing and he is quick and fast. I also like the new design of Godzilla for the 2014 movie. He is a little fatter than I would have liked and his spines could have been a little bigger, but other than that the 2014 does look and act like the Japanese version.

I am one that was not upset that the 1998 Godzilla did not act like the Japanese version. I knew going into the film that he would be different. Plus, even as a young fan in the 1960s I had wondered what Godzilla would be like if he were depicted to act more like an animal than a lumbering guy in a suit? The 1998 movie gave me an answer to that question and I happen to like the answer.

Besides Godzilla 98 not acting like Godzilla the biggest difference is in the tone of the two films. The 2014 movie is like many recent films in that it is supposed to be “grounded in reality.” That translates into, “what if these events were happening in the real world?” The 1998 movie is filled with humor and the tongue firmly planted in the cheek. Although the new movie is grounded in reality that doesn’t mean that the movie is joyless either. Throughout the movie there is a sense of wonder concerning the monsters and even a scene or two that is more light hearted. One example is the scene in a Nevada casino where we see the MUTO on the TV screen headed our way. All the patrons are oblivious that a giant monster is headed in their direction. Suddenly all the lights go out and then the giant MUTO comes crashing through the roof. It may not seem so light and fun on paper but it is on the screen.

The tone of the 1998 movie is very similar to Emmerich’s other film…Independence Day. While these films are not campy they are not all that serious either. Many films of the 90s, such as Twister or the Lethal Weapon series for example, mixed drama and comedy in a natural stylistic way where neither the comedy or the drama dominated the film. Since these movies were meant to be fun entertainment they didn’t take themselves too seriously. Godzilla 98 fits well in that style of film.

Do I have a preference? No, not really. I may prefer the special effects of the new movie and the life-like depiction of both Godzilla and the MUTOs, although I do feel the CGI in Godzilla 98 has held up pretty well. The monster battles in Godzilla 2014 does give it the slight edge. However, in the end I enjoy each movie for what it is and both will continue to get viewed depending on my mood.

Independence Day Sequels

This information is from Nuke  the Fridge.com…

Director Roland Emmerich is gearing up for two more rounds with the aliens that wreaked havoc on Earth in 1996′s “Independence Day.”  After his action film “White House Down” is released on June 28th, Emmerich will focus his attention on making “ID Forever Part 1,” and “ID Forever Part 2.”

The films will take place 20 years after the events in “Independence Day.” Apparently, the original alien invasion force was able to send a distress signal to reinforcements before they were defeated by Earth’s military.  Here is what Emmerich had to say about the sequels.

”The humans knew that one day the aliens would come back,” explains the director, who completed two scripts with ”Independence Day” co-writer Dean Devlin and has given them to ”White House Down“ writer-producer James Vanderbilt for a rewrite. ”And they know that the only way you can really travel in space is through wormholes. So for the aliens, it could take two or three weeks, but for us that’s 20 or 25 years.”

Emmerich has been working with art department staff to see how the world will look in the aftermath of “Independence Day.”  This is what he explained.

“It’s a changed world. It’s like parallel history. [Humans] have harnessed all this alien technology. We don’t know how to duplicate it because it’s organically-grown technology, but we know how to take an antigravity device and put it in a human airplane.”

As far as the characters are concerned, actor Bill Pullman, who played President Thomas J. Whitmore, will return; Will Smith (Captain Steven Hiller) has not.  The scripts will focus on a new generation of characters, including Hiller’s stepson Dylan.

“It’s still some of the same characters, but also new younger characters; it’s a little bit like the sons take over,” says Emmerich, who promises that the first sequel will have a cliffhanger ending to keep audiences coming back for more. “The first one ends on a little success, but only enough to give the humans hope. And then in the second one they free themselves again [from the aliens].”

After the mass destruction of the original “Independence Day,” what’s left for new aliens to destroy?

“We’ve rebuilt,” Emmerich answers, with a smile. “But [the aliens] also do different things.”

Here are my thoughts: I love alien invasion movies! I also love the movie Independence Day! When it came out in 1996 I saw it in the theater 4 times! That was how much I enjoyed the movie. Yes, on Independence Day each year I take out the DVD and watch this film. It is fun, action packed and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I have been waiting for a sequel ever since the movie came out. I think today film makers are more eager to cash in on a succesful franchise so it amazes me we have had to wait this long for a sequel. We are getting two more movies to make it a trilogy. I am keeping my fingers crossed that all of this happens!

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.

What’s in the Hopper?

I have posted about movies that are coming out this year and next so today I want to mention some movies that are still in development phase. Being in development does not mean the film will see the light of day. There is a place called Development Hell where film ideas can languish for years and even decades before they get made. Sadly, some films never leave Development Hell.

One movie that is in development now and was supposed to have been released this year was a new American made Godzilla movie. There was an American Godzilla movie produced by Sony Pictures and directed by  Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin  (Independence Day) which did not do as well as expected at the box office. Although I enjoyed the 1998 American Godzilla movie many did not and the rights reverted back to Toho Studios and no sequels were ever made.

In  2010 Legendary Pictures acquired the rights from Toho Studio to make another American made Godzilla film, with a release date of 2012. The project was to be co-produced with Warner Bros., and Legendary has stressed that their film would have no association with the 1998 Godzilla that their film would be a complete reboot to the franchise.

Legendary Pictures has stated that conceptual artwork for Godzilla that would be consistent with the Japanese design of the monster is being pursued. In January of 2011 it was announced that Gareth Edwards, who directed Monsters, was hired to direct the new Godzilla film. Edwards, who is a Godzilla fan himself, has mentioned he will give this movie a new feel consistent with the character and would not share the tone and feel of the 1998 fiasco.  What has transpired thus far is that David Callaham’s first draft of a script was rejected and in November of last year (2011) Max Borenstein was hired to adapt a story outline by David Goyer to be turned into a script.

From the sources I have this new Godzilla movie is being pushed back until 2014. I have heard nothing else about this movie and hope it is not languishing and suffering eternally in Development Hell.

Another movie that is in Development Hell is a sequel to Cloverfield. Director Matt Reeves, Producer JJ. Abrams, and writer Drew Goddard have been saying they want to do a sequel but nothing has really happened in this direction. The reasons given by the three is a lack of a coherent direction for the sequel and the inability to have the time to get together to work on this project. I really would love to see a sequel to Cloverfield but I am certainly not holding my breath waiting. 

 

This is a large topic and I think I will dedicate Thursdays to examining science fiction and fantasy movies that are in development.