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Review – Independence Day II: Resurgence (12a) [2016]

ID2 - header

Star Rating: 2.5/5

Director:

  • Roland Emmerich – Independence Day, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, Stargate

Cast:

  • Liam Hemsworth – The Last Song, The Expendables II, The Hunger Games I-III(ii), The Duel
  • Maika Monroe – The Guest, It Follows, The 5th Wave, The Scent of Rain & Lightning
  • Jessie T Usher – When The Game Stands Tall, Survivor’s Remorse, Almost Christmas
  • Bill Pullman – Independence Day, The Grudge, Torchwood, The Equaliser, Brother In Laws
  • Sela Ward – The Day After Tomorrow, The Stepfather, Gone Girl, Graves
  • William Fichtner – Armageddon, The Dark Knight, Entourage, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, If
  • Deobia Oparei – Thunderbirds, Your Highness, Pirates of the Caribbean IV, Game of Thrones
  • Angela Yeung Wing – Hitman: Agent 47, Ferryman
  • Jeff Goldblum – Independence Day, Jurassic Park I-III, Law & Order, Mortdecai, Thor III
  • Judd Hirsch – Independence Day, A Beautiful Mind, Sharknado II, The Muppets, Wild Oats
  • Chin Han – The Dark Knight, 2012, Contagion, Captain America IIGhost In The ShellMusic Composer:
  • Harald Kloser – The Day After Tomorrow, 10,000 BC, 2012, White House Down, Discarnate
  • Thomas Wander – 10,000 BC, 2012, White House Down

Twenty years ago, Director Roland Emmerich made the great disaster movie, Independence Day (ID1). Aliens came from space and blew up the White House. This was innovative and spectacular to watch as no-one had used CGI on such a scale before. Yet, that was in 1996. Could the same ideals that fuelled ID1 to success back then, have the same impact on viewers today?

The aliens, with its enormous space ship, destroying an American city. (It's hard to know which one as the cities all looked like smoke, ash and rubble after a while.)

The aliens, with its enormous space ship, destroying an American city. (It’s hard to know which one as the cities all looked like smoke, ash and rubble after a while.)

Independence Day II (ID2) is basically the same film as ID1. The key differences are that this one starts in outer space. While there, humans learn that the aliens have awoken after twenty years in hibernation (or whatever aliens do whilst in a state of torpor). Now, the aliens are returning to destroy the Earth again (for reasons that are never explained).

Only, this time, the aliens have even larger spaceships and more powerful weapons than first time around. All the nations of the world, across all the continents, must unite and work together if they are to stand a chance of defending the human race from extinction.

The aliens unleashing their arsenal upon London. (Haven't we seen this sight before?)

The aliens unleashing their arsenal upon London. (Haven’t we seen this sight before?)

Yes, ID2’s plot is as laughably corny as that. It is also entirely predictable. One can draw the arc of the film before going into this two hour-long action, Sci-fi, disaster fest. This is because: one, disaster movies tend to have (very) similar storylines; and, two, the plot for ID2 is an inconvenience to the special effects.

Ninety-plus percent of the film is special effects of one kind or another. Arguably, the most enjoyable part of ID2 is spotting from where Emmerich has gained his inspiration for the CGI. The aliens look remarkably similar to those from the Alien franchise and Prometheus; the space ship looks the same, just larger, than the one from ID1; and the destruction of the White House and London look like those same events in ID1, Deep Impact, Olympus Has Fallen, Thor II: The Dark World and London Has Fallen. Suffice to say the effects in ID2 do not look as innovative or inspire the same awe as they did in 1996. And that is despite the CGI being in a different league to what Emmerich had to work with twenty years ago.

Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), filling the boots of Will Smith, and flying a fighter jet into toward the aliens to try and take them out. I wonder, will he succeed?

Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), filling the boots of Will Smith, and flying a fighter jet into toward the aliens to try and take them out. I wonder, will he succeed?

Nevertheless, while watching ID2, one spends less time wondering about the contrast in the quality of the CGI, compared to the giant hole in ID2 known as the lack of Will Smith. Smith was the hero of the last film and ID2 does not feel right without him. (The reason for his absence differs depending upon the source: Smith claims he could not work on ID2 as he was already committed to Suicide Squad, which filmed at the same time; while the studio claims Smith asked for too much money and told him to get lost.) In Smith’s absence, Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T Usher and Maika Monroe decently fill the void without being anything remotely special. Yet, somehow, the three of them can’t quite capture Smith’s panache, and that is even with all the clichés that Emmerich has dumped into this unimaginative, by the numbers movie.

Over-all, ID2 is a standard, semi-enjoyable disaster movie. It tries to repeat what occurred in ID1, only on a gargantuan scale and with a plot that gets in the way of the CGI. All of this is done without Will Smith and the movie cannot get past it. Indeed, if anything, Smith’s absence emphasises how important he was to making ID1 so entertaining and successful in 1996. Without him, ID2 underlines how unoriginal and dull humans fighting (technologically superior, yet paradoxically primitive-minded) aliens has become.

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Review – It Follows (15) [2015]

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Star Rating: 2/5

Director:

  • David Robert Mitchell – The Myth of the American Sleepover

Cast:

  • Maika Monroe – At Any Price, Labor Day, Echoes Of WarIndependence Day II: Resurgence
  • Keir Gilchrist – Dead Silence, Just Peck, The Heyday Of The Insensitive Bastards, Dark Summer
  • Olivia Luccardi – The Rewrite, Like Sunday, Like Rain, Ironwood
  • Jake Weary – Fred: The Movie I-III, Altitude, Zombeavers, Pretty Little Liars
  • Lili Sepe – Spork
  • Daniel Zovatto – Beneath, Innocence, Revenge, Primal/Ethereal

The basic principle of a horror film is that it should scare people for much, if not all of the film. Why then, with the exception of last year’s The Babadook, have so many recent horror films not been scary in the least? Simply, watch It Follows and find out.

Jay (Maika Monroe) tied up and in an abandoned car park, after her sexual encounter with Hugh (Jake Weary).

Jay (Maika Monroe) tied up and in an abandoned car park, after her sexual encounter with Hugh (Jake Weary).

It Follows centres round nineteen-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe), who lives in the suburbs of Middle America. She goes out on a date with Hugh (Jake Weary) and has sex with him in the back of his car (classy, I know). While taking a break from having sex, Hugh puts a handkerchief wet with chlorophyll over Jay’s mouth and she passes out. When Jay wakes up, she is tied to a chair in an abandoned car park and Hugh tells her that he has passed on to her an STD (a sexually transmitted demon) that will follow her until, either, she has sex with another person or it kills her…

The premise for It Follows is a terrifying one. The threat of acquiring an STD (a disease, that is, as opposed to a demon) is enough to make all sensible people carry protection with them at all times. So, to change the disease element to a demon could have made for really interesting (and frightening) viewing.

Unfortunately, Director David Mitchell has ruined a very good premise with bad execution in several different ways. First, he employs the scene-fading technique too often to dizzy his audience into disinterest. Second, he has too many pointless and uninteresting scenes that add nothing to the plot. Third, the movie is boring and one rapidly becomes impatient for the film to end.

 

Jay and her friends going into an abandoned, derelict house. Why? Because that's what people do in horror films.

Jay and her friends going into an abandoned, derelict house. Why? Because that’s what people do in horror films.

Part of the reason why It Follows is boring is because there is no suspense. The ethereal, atmospheric music that the director employs can only induce terror into viewers when it is timed correctly and if they care about the characters. Alas, Mitchell turns the music on and up to eleven when it is not needed so it never has the desired effect (unless the desired effect is to give audiences a thumping headache); and the characters are so vain and stupid that even if Mitchell had used the music correctly, it would not have heightened one’s sensations as no-one cares about the characters. Jay and her (chemistry-less) friends are so daft, viewers almost pray for the demons to devour them so we can go to the bathroom sooner.

In fairness to Mitchell, he has the right ideas in place to make (what should have been) a scary horror movie. He has taken the right approach by making his characters the central focus of the story (unlike, for example, The Woman In Black where James Watkins made the silly ghost the driving force of the story). Indeed, if Mitchell had made his characters a tad more interesting, perhaps It Follows may have made pulses race after-all.

Kelly (Lili Sepe) attempting to calm Jay down upon the latter seeing a demon closing in on her.

Kelly (Lili Sepe) attempting to calm Jay down upon the latter seeing a demon closing in on her.

Additionally, the suburban setting is apt (if cliché) for a scary horror film as suburban areas can create a naturally tense and creepy atmosphere, like in The Babadook. Except, It Follows is neither tense nor scary, and seeing the setting merely reminds one of how good The Babadook was and how much of a let-down It Follows is.

Over-all, It Follows is a dull film. Director David Mitchell may have some good concepts upon how to make a decent film (and one awaits to see what he comes up with next). But his first horror film can only be described as a failure. It Follows does not make viewers feel on-edge or afraid for the characters within the story. Furthermore, the movie wastes its petrifying premise with bad execution. And there is only one crime in film worse than bad execution: boredom. Oh wait, It Follows has that too.

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