Sad to say “Independence Day: Resurgence” is quite awful. It looks cheaply made and is mostly witless. Every possible cliche is explored. Eleven credited screenwriters and there’s no screenplay, just remnants of abandoned drafts.
Roughly 50 people showed up tonight for the first showing in Union Square. About 125 went to the next showing. And 50 more were expected for the final show. “IDR” could be a $200 million disaster if it doesn’t take off in places like China. (There are Asian characters just for that reason.)
But it’s a movie that begins in the middle, has almost no character development and looks like it was shot on a soundstage.
Missing Will Smith is just part of the disaster. The character that replaces him– Dylan– is his earnest, humorless son. This is Will Smith’s (movie) kid? I don’t think so. The actor playing him– James T. Usher– and relation to the singer Usher– is solid but dull, like all the young people in this film. Liam Hemsworth and Maika Monroe feel like they’re playing a parody of star crossed lovers. Nicolas Wright is wrong. The casting feels low grade and inexpensive.
So you also really miss Mary McDonnell as president Bill Pullman’s wife, and Margaret Colin, as Jeff Goldblum’s maybe love interest. They were adult women with strong personas. Charlotte Gainsbourg is just lost as a scientist or psychologist– it’s unclear. Like virtually all the people who file past the camera, Gainsbourg has no story or backstory.
Twenty years have passed since the first film. How could production values be worse? There’s some really laughable rear screen projection. Night or darkly lit scenes have no depth of image. The editing is clumsy. There are space ships flying and fighting that look like they’re hand held. Good grief. All the money was spent on the aliens, who are really no different than they were in 1996.
Some kinda funny moments involve Brent Spiner as the revived Dr. Okun. The actor is best known as Data from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” He’s goofy enough to be diverting, and there’s a throwaway “Star Trek” joke, I think.
Also, in the final reel (where was the first reel? the first act? the character set ups?) Jeff Goldblum drives a yellow school bus around the desert, chased by the big alien. It could have been funnier. But at one point, Judd Hirsch leans forward to talk to him during the chase and Goldblum says, “Please stay behind the yellow line.” Shows you how strained I was for humor.
I’m so disappointed by “IDR.” I saw the first movie three times. Director Roland Emmerich really caught lightning in a bottle. He is otherwise– and has been since then– a maker of big screen schlock. He’s saddled 20th Century Fox with a huge turkey here. But no New York press screenings or premiere, publicists who ignored emails– you knew this calamity was on its way. The fairly light numbers of people at AMC Union Square last night underscored the trouble.