IN­DE­PEN­DENCE DAY: RESUR­GENCE

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SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents - Nick Setch­field

Was the fol­low-up worth wait­ing two decades for?

re­leased OUT NOW! 12a | 120 min­utes Di­rec­tor roland em­merich Cast Jeff Gold­blum, Maika Mon­roe, liam Hemsworth, Bill Pull­man

In 2008 Roland Em­merich opened his lux­ury Lon­don home to the world’s me­dia. His taste in in­te­rior decor was re­mark­able: a paint­ing of Je­sus in a Wham! T-shirt; a dio­rama of the doomed Kennedy mo­tor­cade; a life-size wax­work of Pope John Paul II, read­ing his own obit­u­ar­ies.

Did we re­ally have Em­merich wrong all these years? Was the man be­hind such earnest catas­tro­phe porn as 2012 and The Day Af­ter To­mor­row re­ally an ex­po­nent of high-end kitsch, more art world prankster Jeff Koons than disas­ter movie mer­chant Ir­win Allen? Was it too late to wrap quote marks around his schlock-stud­ded oeu­vre? Too late to re­gard it all with a know­ing smirk?

If that’s Em­merich’s true artis­tic im­pulse then it’s buried in this tardy, dis­ap­point­ing se­quel. While In­de­pen­dence Day rev­elled in rah-rah pa­tri­o­tism and thun­der­ous bub­blegum thrills – it would have played like gang­busters re­leased in the age of Trump – Resur­gence di­als down the jin­go­ism and goes eas­ier on the cheese. It also ditches the disas­ter flick blue­print that made the orig­i­nal such a canny crowd­pleaser. If In­de­pen­dence Day wanted to be The Tow­er­ing In­ferno mated with Star Wars, its en­core has no higher am­bi­tion than strap­ping it­self into a fighter jet and zap­ping alien ass.

Gone is the sense of an or­di­nary world, or­di­nary peo­ple, wak­ing up to some­thing omi­nous and un­know­able. No gi­ant shad­ows fall on ev­ery­day ci­ties. Twenty years on we have mono­rails and a moon­base and all kinds of tech-candy, sal­vaged from alien sci­ence (there’s some­thing strangely touch­ing about this shiny sci-fi utopia – it looks won­der­ful, so un­cyn­i­cal).

Now our heroes are the frontline pi­lots de­fend­ing planet Earth. Sadly they’re a stiff bunch of ci­phers. You feel for Maika Mon­roe and Jessie Usher, tossed these sliv­ers of char­ac­ter by an un­for­giv­ing screen­play, try­ing so hard to three-di­men­sion­alise these blanks. The movie wants Liam Hemsworth to be the daz­zling Top Gun scoundrel, fill­ing the almighty void left by Will Smith, but he’s sold to us as a charm­less jock.

It’s left to the old guard to inject some des­per­ately needed life. Brent Spiner has con­ta­gious, out­sized fun as res­ur­rected hippy bof­fin Brack­ish Okun. Bill Pull­man, once a weaponised Bill Clin­ton, is now a bearded loon, rav­aged by vi­sions. A seem­ingly age­less Judd Hirsch brings gen­uine warmth and hu­man­ity. And then there’s Jeff Gold­blum, mov­ing through it all like mer­cury,

Gone is the sense of an or­di­nary world

nervy and ironic, ob­serv­ing his own movie as if it’s some par­tic­u­larly fas­ci­nat­ing thought experiment. God, he’s great.

Em­merich de­liv­ers on the vi­su­als, nat­u­rally. Flash­lights ex­plore an eerie, skull-filled African night. A moth­er­ship squats over a shanty town, District

9-style. The pal­ette seems darker, colder. Else­where the sky steals cars and boats and peo­ple. Lon­don suc­cumbs to an apoc­a­lyp­tic firestorm (“They like to get the land­marks,” de­clares Gold­blum, know­ingly, as Tower Bridge falls, but there’s less of this kind of thing than you might imag­ine – maybe the aliens have lost their hunger, or per­haps Em­merich has). The new moth­er­ship, pre­pos­ter­ously, kind of glo­ri­ously, is over 3,000 miles in di­am­e­ter. Trailer-friendly soundbites re­mind us it’s “big­ger than the last one!”

Ul­ti­mately it’s all so much empty shock and awe. Bad nar­ra­tive choices be­gin to bleed through the cracks in the spec­ta­cle. Hirsch sud­denly finds him­self in charge of a bus­ful of kids, as if the film has just re­mem­bered it needs to be about real peo­ple too. A throw­away line about African rebels fight­ing a bit­ter ground war with the last wave of in­vaders leaves you pin­ing for that movie in­stead.

Resur­gence feels like a fran­chise ex­ten­sion that’s 15 years too late. The last words we hear are shame­less se­quel-bait but it’s hard to imag­ine any­one car­ing now. Stir­ring mu­sic plays but this bland, oddly ephemeral film never quite earns its vic­tory. Some­times bad taste is bet­ter than no af­ter­taste at all.

Dr Okun is named in trib­ute to Jef­frey A Okun, dig­i­tal ef­fects su­per­vi­sor on Em­merich’s 1994 hit Star­gate.

Ev­ery­one was shocked by the ref­er­en­dum re­sult.

“But I thought Chris Hemsworth’s brother was Loki!”

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