Jim Schembri’s new release movie reviews – June 24
INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE (BOMB) (120 minutes) M
The big questions that need to be answered by this long-belated sequel to the dopey 1996 mega-hit are: is it possible for the storytelling be as bad? Or for the acting to be any worse? Or for the aliens to be any stupider?
The answer on all three counts is a resounding, disheartening, soul-sapping ‘yes’. What a mountain of crap this movie is.
It seems to be the year of the mega-clunker, with Gods of Egypt, Seventh Son and Batman vs Superman proving how the mega-budget, FX-driven epics of the 21st Century are turning audiences off.
In Independence Day: Resurgence – pet names: Independence Day: Regurgitation or Morons from Outer Space – the thick-as-a-brick aliens from the first film return for another go at taking over our lovely Earth.
And this time they’ve got a mother ship that’s 3000 miles long. It’s so big it has its own swamp! Its job is to hover above the ocean as it burrows down to the earth’s core to siphon energy for the alien battle fleet.
The humans, who have long been expecting the return of the aliens, won’t stand for it and so send a fleet of suped-up fighters to attack said ship.
Here’s the thing, though, folks, and it’ll give you a perfect sense of just how lame and lazy the storytelling in this monumental pile of post-content poop is: in the 20 years since the failed invasion, Earth has used its first close encounter to advance its technology by several hundred years. This has resulted in anti-gravity devices, bases on the moon and super-powerful orbital weapons.
At the same time, we’re supposed to believe that the aliens haven’t developed their technology or weaponry at all, even though they’ve been busy conquering other civilisations.
And that’s just one of the story holes in this insulting mess of a movie. Others involve gross violation of story logic, the type that drive your humble reviewer crazy.
Remember how in Batman vs Superman we’re shown how weak Superman becomes in the presence of Kryptonite, yet later we see him merrily flying around with the stuff?
That kind of stuff happens throughout IDR (as it’s known) and results in an ending that, well, makes absolutely no friggin’ sense.
With big, well-made popcorn films filmgoers are often advised not to over-think things, to leave their brains at home, go with the flow and just enjoy the thrill ride of a movie.
But even if you did leave your brains at home, this drek is so bad it would hurt your spinal column. It’s that awful.
Amidst the jumbled story, Jeff Goldblum returns to do battle, as does Bill Pullman. He was the US president in the first film, but here he’s suffering from some weird, telepathic stuff that’s going on. (Another example of an ill-fitting story element thrown into the mix without enough thought).
Also along for the ride is Australian Liam Hemsworth – a talented actor (The Dressmaker) forced to mouth awful dialogue in several stupid scenes – and, of all people, French actress Charlotte Gainsbourgh.
What’s she doing in this sludge? Best known as a prestige actress who appears in edgy art films (Antichrist; Melancholia; Nymphomaniac) Gainsbourgh’s jarring, oddball appearance in this is a great conversation starter. Is her presence intended as an homage to Francois Truffaut’s role in Steven Spielberg’s 1978 classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Is she the entry point into the French market? Or did she tell her agent she wanted an extention on her house?
Without going on and on about this certified turkey, the best sci-films about alien encounters either rouse some mystery and wonder about extra-terrestrial contact (The Day the Earth Stood Still; ET) or generate real fear over an other-worldly threat (Alien; War of the Worlds; Invasion of the Body Snatchers).
This dumb, dull, braindead movie does neither. It’s just another cold-hearted example of corporate movie making at its most cynical.
Even though you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who genuinely thinks the first film was much good, pretty much everybody on Earth knows the film and its iconic images of landmarks, such as the White House and the Empire State Building, being obliterated.
The saturation marketing that accompanied ID4 in 1996 – and the consequent fact that it took about a billion dollars at the box office – ensured that the brand became deeply embedded in pop culture.
So making a sequel, even a bad one, must have been a no-brainer. It’s just a guess, now, but some studio number-cruncher probably said how this was an overly pregnant cash cow, that releasing 120-minutes of leader tape with a title that had Independence Day in it would make everybody money.
As it turns out, watching 120 minutes of a blank screen would have been preferable, and less stressful on the brain.
On the prowl: The cast from Everybody Wants Some go cruising for girls and, maybe, a storyline.
EVERYBODY WANTS SOME **1/2 (117 minutes) MA
Nostalgia-loving writer/director Richard Linklater (Boyhood; Dazed & Confused) harks back to 1980 for this likeable, inconsequential comedy ramble about an assortment of baseball jocks who share a frat house at a Texas college.
In conventional terms, there is virtually no story here; the film takes place in the three days before classes begin as the jocks get to know each other, cruise around for girls, throw parties, have sex, drink, smoke pot, practice and indulge in occasional bouts of self-analysis.
Those of that boomer generation will enjoy the generous sprinkling of cultural references – Carl Sagan, punk, Van Halen – and the cast of unknowns put in very convincing performances.
Though the film’s humour comes from the macho-overload of the characters (there’s not one nerd in the piece) thankfully Linklater knew better than to get cheap laughs from period film cliches (fashion; music, etc).
It’s a leisurely two hours of running on the spot, with some impressive period recreation, as when the guys visit a pinball parlour and break the code for winning at Space Invaders.
They’re back: Manny the Mammoth and his extended family return for the family film Ice Age: Collision Course.
ICE AGE: COLLISION COURSE **1/2 (94 minutes) G
Things are greening up nicely as mammoth Manny (Ray Romano) leads his brood through the evolving earth, with verdant flora replacing all that white ice. Just two things are spoiling his day: his only daughter is about to marry a doofus; and the earth is about to be destroyed.
We’re five films into this franchise now, and to keep things lively the makers have added British funnyman Simon Pegg to the cast and upped the contemporary references – there’s even an appearance by pop astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson – as the gang try to figure out a way to save earth.
This is pleasant enough, and well-made as usual, but it’d be nice, after all this walking and talking, for the series to either wind up or change direction.
Perhaps they could let Manny and his wife Ellie (Queen Latifah) get a divorce, or allow the sabre-toothed Diego (Denis Leary) do what he’s been wanting to do for five films and snack on Sid (John Leguizamo).
Or how about a trans-studio film mashing this lot with the casts from The Croods and The Good Dinoasur? They could even get a time-travel visit from Mr Peabody and Sherman.