THE AFJ REVIEW: INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCY "THE DENTIST'S CUT!"
By RJ "The Dentist" Davis
A second opinion & companion piece to the original AFJ review
Hey Junkies! RJ “The Dentist” Davis here to give my two cents on INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE. But wait…didn’t Supreme Leader Kruse already review this movie? Are you seeing double? Is it a tumor?
No, you’re eyes don’t deceive you. Normally, either myself or Jarrett write the review for popular “nerd culture” movies, but this one needed special attention. You see, this is a monumental day in AFJ history as it is the first time that Jarrett and I actually disagree on something! Much like a better looking, more intelligent, more suave Siskel and Ebert, we butted heads.
I’m not going to rehash the plot in this piece, since the first review already did that. If you want a plot description, head over to the very well written original review on the website. This is simply another opinion and a bit of an editorial on one man reliving his childhood last weekend.
Jarrett basically tore this movie a new rear end. He pretty much hated everything about it from beginning to end and felt like it was just another “rehash.” While I have some MAJOR gripes with this film, I was more forgiving and tried to notice the positives. Still, the film was a mixed bag for me, and in true Roland Emmerich style, blatantly stole from other, better narratives. But let me give you some background on why I think this movie was a better experience for me than for someone like Mr. Kruse.
I was 13 when the first INDEPENDENCE DAY came out in 1996. In other words, I was the perfect age for that silly, OTT disaster movie. It had everything I ever wanted in a movie – giant alien warships, big explosions, cool dogfights, an uplifting message, and smack-talking Will Smith. It was the first movie that I ever saw where I wanted to spin around, get back on line, and watch it again. After seeing the national reaction to the movie back then, I was sure we would see a sequel soon. I imagined in my head what the next movie would be like. Those calamari looking bastards would definitely come back with bigger ships and more firepower. After all, they had to! We scored one of the biggest upsets of all time on them – they had to be thirsty for revenge.
In my still-developing teen mind, I envisioned the world preparing for the next wave. We would back-engineer their weapons and fight them on a more even turf this time. It would be a true war of the worlds, and not just luck. Man, it would be AWESOME. I was so pumped. And I waited.
And waited. Annnnd waited.
Fast forward 20 years. RJ is now in his 30s, with a fiancé’ and a mortgage. He has forgotten about Independence Day and all of his dreams. But wait – what’s this I see? THEY’RE MAKING A SEQUEL!? NOW!!?! I went through all of the emotional stages – confusion, anger, excitement. The trailers made it look pretty cool, and I was optimistic.
As the movie began, I was giddy like a schoolgirl getting her first Valentine’s Day card from the blonde boy with the dimples. The movie pulls on our nostalgia strings from the first frame – it shows the aliens (oddly, still unnamed) receiving a distress call from their buddies on earth with a little video of Bill Pullman giving his famous speech from the first movie. It cuts to the new earth, where we have reverse engineered all alien tech and now have a massive ESD (earth space defense) program. We are actually building the alien lasers on our moon and have a ring of laser guns around the earth to protect us from the inevitable return of the telepathic, murderous squid people.
I was stoked. This was EXACTLY what I wanted 20 years ago. For a good hour, I was in movie heaven. It was a perfect sequel.
Then the aliens show up again and it all went to hell. My smiling went to laughter. My laughter went to nervous laughter. Then it just became face palming and groaning. Then, the biggest sin of all – I looked at my watch.
So what happened? How could the first half of a movie be so great and the second half so abysmal? I honestly don’t know. Maybe it was destroyed in the editing room. Maybe Emmerich was given too much creative freedom and the film suffered from a “George Lucas syndrome”. Whatever it was, the second half was just stupid. Stupid even to the Hollywood/Roland Emmerich standard. Alien queens, fart jokes, unnecessary plot lines, bland characters, and one ridiculous coincidence after the next. It seemed like the first half was written by talented professionals and then the director fired the writers and had his over-caffeinated 7 year old write the second half.
One thing that I will say was super interesting was the introduction of the idea that the alien species is an enemy of all other galactic aliens and that there is an unseen galactic alliance that needs our help to defeat them. The end of the film sets up this cool idea for a threequel. It is such a good idea – but it seemed like it had been done before. Oh yea, IT HAS BEEN. It’s a game called MASS EFFECT and the story is done much better than in this movie. Even if you aren’t a fan of video games, but love sci-fi, you owe it to yourself to play (or at least read the story of) MASS EFFECT. It is one of the great sci-fi stories of our generation. But I digress.
So my verdict? Not since DUNE have I felt so differently about two halves of the same movie. It was enjoyable for me, but I’m sure much of that was nostalgia. There was just so much wasted potential. Was it great? No way. Was it a fun evening for a jaded adult who has fond memories of the original? Yes, it was. But I wouldn’t watch it again unless a talented fan edits the second half into something watchable.
Hopefully we at least get some cool collectibles out of it, right Junkies?