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Independence Day Resurgence: Twenty Years On, Time Hasn't Been Kind
Given that it's taken twenty years for director Roland Emmerich and writer Dean Devlin arrive at a continuation of their 1996 sci-fi blockbuster, Independence Day, we're not sure whether to be surprised at how utterly uninvolving Resurgence really is, or whether we should have expected that, with a two-decade gap between films, it was always going to be difficult to capture the same essence of the original.
Over the twenty years after the events of Independence Day, humanity has been preparing itself for the possibility of another extra-terrestrial attack, hoping that their newly-found technologies, weapons and defence-systems – built from the alien equipment and machinery left behind by the last visitors – will can fight off any outside threats.
When not seducing a Dr. Catherine Marceaux (Gainsbourg), tech-guru David Levinson (Goldblum) sits as the head of global defense and research program, Earth Space Defence. When an even larger alien-space ship returns to the planet with plans of drilling all of the Earth's resources, familiar faces are soon pulled into the chaos, including ex U.S President Thomas Whitmore (Pullman), David's father, Julius Levinson (Hirsch) and a fighter pilot, Jake Morrison (Hemsworth) and Dylan Hiller (Usher).
What should have been a large-than-life spectacle has instead resulted in painfully dull extension of what stands as one of the first sci-fi blockbusters of its kind. With a bigger but not a necessarily a better premise to work with, Emmerich struggles to keep his centre, with the film's focus become incoherent and its storylines and characters flimsy. The destruction sequences – which naturally go on to blow all major global landmarks – are over-the-top and while the sight of the three-thousand mile wide alien ship does stand out as one of the most spectacular things about the entire movie, there is very little human-connection in the film or stress on what's really at stake.
With Will Smith opting to stay out, Resurgence ends up relying on the wit and charm of Jeff Goldblum and the handsome-heroism of Liam Hemsworth to carry the movie through the wreckage; a task for which unfortunately, none of their thinly-drawn characters are able to realise. Loud but somehow still dull, the spirited nature of its predecessor is completely diminished – overall, a quite unnecessary sequel.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.
Marking the fifth instalment in the Underworld franchise, Blood Wars rests in the hands of a first-time feature director, Anna Foerster who, although managing to create a few notable moments of action, fails to bring any ingenuity or freshness to its now exhausted vampires-versus-werewolves narrative.
The story begins with a brief recap of events from the last four films where we learn that everyone’s favourite vampire death dealer, Selena (once again fully embraced by the leather-clad, forever sulking Kate Beckinsale) has been betrayed and banished by her kind.
Still trying to cope with the pain of having given up her vampire-werewolf hybrid daughter Eve for everyone’s safety, Selena is surprised to be summoned back into the vampire community - now led by the scheming Semira (Pulver) - who wish to make use of her skills in order to train the new generation of fighters, while still escaping her own chasers and searching for her daughter.
Taking quite a bit of time to get going, Blood Wars – written by Cory Goodman – is filled with lots of politics and nonsensical dialogue between characters who seemingly have a hard time in conveying any emotion, thus, making it all that difficult for the viewer to get invested in what they have to say. Drenched in a seemingly cold, metallic-blue tint, Blood Wars – although certainly not heavy on the action front – does manage to offer a couple relatively exciting action set-pieces. However, considering that this is a vampires-verses-werewolves kind of a movie, there just isn’t enough of that that specific mythology to set it apart from any other action movies – no wooden stakes or silver bullets to see here folks, just plenty of swirling swords and guns that can’t hurt anyone.
Another problem here is that the mythology behind the franchise in general – something the keeps spinning around aimlessly with no real focus or ending in sight – is a little hard to take seriously.
All of the characters, including the PVC-wearing Kate Beckinsale, who thinks that scowling her way through the scenes will get her anywhere, are all without an ounce of charm or personality – which sadly, brings us to a conclusion that there is no fun to be had in this rather forgettable cinematic offering and generic continuation of a franchise which, perhaps, might be ready now to close its doors and call it a day.