Thoughts on Independence Day: Resurgence

Alien invaders count as horror, right?
I thought so.
Here are a handful of random thoughts about Independence Day: Resurgence.

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1. Brent Spiner is a perfectly fine actor, but Dr. Okun was entirely too prominent in this movie.  The first Independence Day was the perfectly amount of Okun: get in, say some awkward things for laughs, have an alien tentacle wrapped around his neck and get out.
For this movie, it was almost like someone said, “Hey, what if we did that but for, like, half the movie?”  Okun is a good character in moderation.  “Moderation” is the exact opposite of what we got here.

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2. Maika Monroe is great, isn’t she?  Man, she’s great.  I know there was an uproar over the fact that Mae Whitman wasn’t offered the chance to reprise her role from the original, but that doesn’t change the fact that Maika Monroe is great.  (For the record, Mae Whitman is also great.)
So here comes Monroe, stepping into the role of Patricia Whitmore to offer…nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  It ‘s not Monroe’s fault: it was a terrible, shallow character.  The few times Monroe was asked to really “bring it,” she did exactly that, only to see others not return the favor (or for the script to completely fail) and for those scenes to fall flat.

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3. There was a subplot where Julius Levinson – the great Judd Hirsch – drives towards Area 51 with a schoolbus full of children.  I am very much looking forward to a spin-off in the vein of Cheaper By The Dozen.

Pictured: Julius with all his children
Pictured: Julius with all his children

4.  There were too many characters to really care about any of them.  Our “new blood” was comprised of 5 characters: Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe), Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher), Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), Rain Lao (Angelababy) and Charlie Miller (Travis Trope).  That is entirely too many people to care about, especially when most of them are just empty husks.  They could have cut 3 of the characters and allowed us to form a stronger bond with the remaining 2: Patricia and Dylan.

5. It’s not Jessie T. Usher’s fault, but he was playing the role of Steven Hiller’s son and showed exactly zero of the charisma of Will Smith’s Hiller.  I say it’s not his fault, only because there are very few people who have the kind of easy charisma that Will Smith has.
It’s also helpful to keep in mind that Dylan is Steven’s stepchild, so maybe that explains it.

I never said he didn't have smoldering eyes, though.
I never said he didn’t have smoldering eyes, though.

6. Liam Hemsworth is a very handsome man, but he is not a very good actor.

Not pictured: acting.
Not pictured: acting.

7. There is a great part at the beginning with an African tribe who hunted the aliens who crash-landed at the end of the first movie.  The tribe killed hundreds of aliens.  We spend a good bit of time with their leader, Dikembe Umbutu, who killed them with a set of machetes.  “You have to get them from behind,” he says.  He’s the best.
So what does he do for the majority of the movie?  He basically plays second-fiddle to a bumbling, comic-relief IRS stooge named Floyd.  I hated Floyd.  I hate Floyd so much.

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8. When in its case, the alien orb looked like The Matrix of Leadership from Transformers: The Movie.

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9. What happened to Constance Spano (David Levinson’s ex-wife)?  Their relationship was a story throughout the original movie, and there is absolutely no reference to her here.  Not only is there no reference, but apparently Levinson has had a series of relationships over the past twenty years, including one such instance with Charlotte Gainsbourg (or her character or whatever).  I would have been happy with a simple comment.  Instead we got nothing.
An aside: I like Charlotte Gainsbourg (mainly her music), but, given her film roles (most notably Antichrist and Nymphomaniac), this movie seems like an odd choice for her.

10. On the Memorial Wall, the name “Russell Casse” can be seen, and a single tear rolled down my cheek.  When this comes out on Blu Ray, I’m going to pause that scene and see if I recognize any other names.

All of these thoughts (except the last one) are negative.  Independence Day: Resurgence is by no means a good movie, but it’s not a terrible one.  Sure, there are too many characters and that causes the movie to drag in parts.  But the action sequences were all tremendous and there were a lot of cool ideas (like, A LOT of cool ideas).  This felt like a movie that bit off more than it could chew: it had to fill in the gaps of what happened in the past 20 years, introduce a bunch of new characters, have the aliens return and set up a couple huge showdowns with said aliens.
I went to the theater and saw this as a double-feature with the original Independence Day.  Watching them back-to-back like that – along with the natural hype that comes with a 20 year delay – probably made this movie feel a little more disappointing than it actually was.  Again, this wasn’t a terrible movie: I think I just had my expectations set a bit too high.  I do think a couple changes would have made for a vast improvement (less Okun and fewer characters/storylines, mainly), but it still seems like a perfectly fine – if flawed – movie.  It’s tough to live up to the first Independence Day (some janky green screen aside, it still holds up and I still love it dearly), but this is still a movie I can see myself rewatching quite a bit.  I gotsta see that rampaging queen as much as possible, ya know?

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Two more thoughts, because I like to end on a positive note:

1. Jeff Goldblum is still a handsome man.

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2. William Fichtner is in this and he’s awesome.  William Fichtner is always awesome.

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Galaxy Invader: Movie Review

 

Synopsis:
An asteroid crashes to Earth and is discovered by a professor and his student.  Is their relationship more than just “professor and student”?  Oh most definitely.
Anyway, the asteroid is a glowing orb and there is also a large, rubbery alien creature and there is a dysfunctional family trying to capitalize on it and a bar full of drunks wanting to murder and so on and so forth.

Pictured: Justice

Thoughts:
Everyone has their favorite bad b-movie that they ran across in a video store.  We used to go to the video store located in the front of Wal-Mart once a month or so and look for the worst movie we could find.  Have you ever seen The Boneyard, in which an old woman and her poodle are turned into hideous, mutated creatures?  Or The Beast, in which a man turns into a drooling, claymated monster for some reason?  Or Puma Man, which involves Aztecs, Stonehenge, Donald Pleasance and the insinuation of a flying sexual encounter?  Because I have.  I’ve seen all of those, and more.  So much more.

My favorite in the bunch was Galaxy Invader.  It was my go-to when a friend was in town.  “You haven’t seen Galaxy Invader?  YOU SIMPLY MUST!”  I’ve seen it more times than I care to count.  I’ve seen it so many times that, when I finally tracked down a copy to buy, I noticed that a line of dialog was missing from the copy I had seen.  I can see JJ saying, “What could I do, Pa, he had a gun,” with his arms in front of him, bouncing awkwardly.  I can see it in my head, but not on my DVD copy.  I own 4 copies of this movie and that dialog is missing from all of them.  It’s a conspiracy, I tells ya.

Did I say I own 4 copies?  Because I meant that I own, um, 0 copies of this movie.  I’m borrowing one from a friend.  You probably don’t know him, so don’t bother asking.  He’ll deny it, anyway.  And he doesn’t have a phone or anything.

Not Pictured: A Phone

This movie is beautiful.  The monster’s suit is terrible and rubbery, and, for a movie called Galaxy Invader, he is not the star of the show.  The star of the show is the Montague family.  The father – Joe – is abusive and leers after the wife of his best friend and owns one shirt that has a giant hole in the middle.  His daughter – who seems to be in her early 30s – desperately wants to run away with her boyfriend, a flannel-clad man who either hides his smoking from her, or was smoking during his shooting breaks and didn’t throw the cigarette away before the camera started rolling.  There’s no way to know for sure.  The wife – Ethel…of course it’s Ethel – just kind of puts up with Joe’s crap for some reason.  Their son is an idiot and is easily in his 40s.

Joe’s best friend is a cowboy-hat wearing jackass by the name of Frank Custer*.  For some reason, Frank is a big figure in the community and can easily gather up a bunch of trigger-happy drunks at a moment’s notice.  Frank says things they “HEYYY GOOOOD,” and has large strings of drool escape his mouth when he removes his cigar.  Frank’s wife – the aforementioned object of Joe’s affection – is Vickie.  She wears low-cut shirts and has a mole that reflects light.

The back of the VHS box shows a scene that never comes close to happening in the movie.  Not in any of the copies that I…I mean, my friend owns.  My friend.  Who, again, you probably don’t know.

The ending is delightful.  Just delightful.  I once watched this movie in a room full of people who had never seen it and the entire room erupted into roars of laughter.  It’s unreal.  It’s one of my all-time favorite scenes in any movie ever.  It’s perfect.  I would highly recommend that you watch the full movie.  But, if you just want to skip to the end, well…

The full movie is on YouTube!  I repeat, it’s on YouTube!

This movie is terrible and trashy and I love it completely.  Please watch it so we can all talk about it.  Please.  Please?

Pretty please?

Rating: 15/5

* Frank Custer is played by Don Leifert.  In the credits, it says, “Hat Provided by Don Leifert.”  They had a line in the credits that told us that he brought his own cowboy hat.  That always killed me.

 

Under the Skin mini review

Under the Skin Poster

Thoughts on Under the Skin, in three different stages:

1. During the movie.
What is going on?  She’s an alien, right?  That’s what the description said.  Is she going to be driving around in this van for the entire movie?  Are those guys actually having sex with her and then getting destroyed, or are they consumed and converted to fuel without ever touching her?  That seems kind of cruel.

Under the Skin Driving

2. Immediately after the movie.
That was okay, I guess.  I think I kind of liked it.  It was different than I thought it would be.  I liked the thought process behind her trying to eat cake.  “I think I’m starting to feel things.  Maybe I’m human.  Let me check by eating this cake.”  There are worse ways to check to see if you’re human or not, I suppose.

Under the Skin Driving 2

3.  The day after the movie.
I really loved that movie.  Scarlett Johansson gave a tremendous performance.  She gave her stoic character a ton of depth, and brought her subtle character arc to life with silence.  It was odd and heartbreaking, and I’m really looking forward to watching it again.

Under the Skin Sitting

Translation: it’s not necessarily an easy movie to watch, but it gets better the more you think about it.  Plus, it can kind of be described as “Art house Species,” which I’m a fan of.

Rating: 4.5/5