Saturday, 9 July 2016



Destructo-porn has surely now reached a critical mass and blown itself up. No longer is the blowing up of an office block or an airliner enough; no longer is the trampling of a major city a sufficiently jaw-dropping experience. Since the original Independence Day started the trend of increasingly convincing and photorealistic depictions of major world landmarks being merrily trashed, if you're not reducing Earth's top tourist attractions to CGI rubble you might as well be making Woody Allen movies. In the last twenty years, Roland Emmerich has smashed up various cities (Independence Day), stomped across New York (Godzilla), frozen most of the Northern Hemisphere (The Day After Tomorrow) and set the entire planet hurtling towards a Mayan-prophesied extinction (2012). It's no longer enough to have aliens flatten a major city; now you have to take that city across to the other side of what's left of the world and drop it on Central London. While Jeff Goldblum flies through it in a spaceship.

Independence Day: Resurgence boasts the very definition of a plotline that could be written on the back of a fag packet. Twenty years to the day after the aliens showed up in Independence Day, they show up again. (Quite why these aliens have stuck so rigidly to Earth's calendar, right down to the American holiday schedule, is left unexplored.) Both the aliens and the humans have spent the interim preparing for a rematch: we've come together as one humanity to build huge laser guns on the Moon and somewhere out near Saturn, while the aliens have constructed continent-sized motherships with which they can drill down to the Earth's molten core and suck it out to use as fuel. Can the heroes of yesterday overcome the even more desperate odds and win the day again?

What's really surprising is that with so much orgasmic destruction, Independence Day: Resurgence is so calamitously dull. Stupid, nonsensical, clunky, and dull. No-one should seriously expect great depth of character or narrative from a summer blockbuster sequel, but for an estimated hundred and sixty five million dollars one should expect something with slightly more substance than a Cillit Bang commercial. Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner and Jeff Goldblum show up in their old roles doing their schtick, just a bit greyer, hairier, grouchier and Goldblummier. Meanwhile, youth is represented by a bunch of shiny cardboard cutouts of absolutely no interest whatsoever, including Jessie T Usher as a young Will Smith because the old Will Smith wanted too much money.

For all the whizzy spaceships and alien monsters, for all the incident and chaos, for all the stuff that's constantly zapping around the screen, it's no fun. It's big (way bigger than the last one, as the characters never stop reminding us), it's loud, it's dumb, but there's no joy to be had. The wild thrill of seeing the White House blown up by alien space lasers was partly down to the fact that we really hadn't seen that sort of thing before. Since then, we've seen the world trashed so often by Emmerich, Michael Bay, Zack Snyder and others that it's a surprise when Independence Day: Resurgence deliberately doesn't knock the White House down again. Even using some of David Arnold's brasstastic score for the original Independence Day, it just reminds you how much more enjoyable it all was the first time around, before this sort of thing got tired. Goldblum is always worth watching, even if he's only turning up for the cheque, and it's surprisingly short (a mere 120 minutes), but actual pleasures are thin on the ground.


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