Review of the week
FILM: INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE
CAST: LIAM HEMSWORTH, JEFF GOLDBLUM, SELA WARD, MAIKA MONROE, BILL PULLMAN, JESSE USHER, WILLIAM FICHNER, BRENT SPINER, JUDD HIRSCH
DIRECTOR: ROLAND EMMERICH
CLASSIFICATION: TO BE ANNOUNCED
REVIEWER: PETER FELDMAN
Director-writer Roland Emmerich is the man for the big occasion. Over the years he has produced a series of impressive blockbusters and ‘Independence Day’ just happens to be one of them.
The original epic was made in 1996. It starred a young Will Smith, as war hero Steven Hiller whose bravery in the battle against the invading hordes of aliens captivated audiences. It was a roller-coaster adventure, with a simple premise, but with humongous special effects.
Emmerich’s newest offering, set 20 years later, has a more complicated storyline, is peopled by both new and old characters, and provides out-of-this-world special effects that again dominate proceedings. It’s a fast-paced, adrenalin-pumping yarn for a new generation, visiting familiar territories in its destruction of some key cities.
The production boasts several sub-plots, including one where a bus load of children, with an ageing Judd Hirsch (playing a character from the original) in the driver’s seat, is in the thick of the action. It’s been 20 years down since the first invasion and America has adjusted well. Most of the defeated aliens are being held prisoners in special isolation cells.
American President, Elizabeth Lanford (Sela Ward), the first woman in the country’s history to occupy the Oval Office, is a strong, decisive individual who is not afraid to get her hands dirty. She’s employed her predecessor’s daughter, Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe), in a key position.
The President maintains that the alien invasion is far from over, that they will be back and Earth needs to be prepared for this eventuality.
Using technology salvaged from the remains of the alien forces, the international community has devised an early warning system to protect the planet. There are military forces based on the Moon, Mars and Rhea. The former Area 51 base has become the Space Defence Headquarters where major decisions are taken.
Before their final defeat, the aliens had sent a distress signal to their other battalions who have now dispatched a larger and more powerful battle fleet heading towards Earth – and another gigantic battle for the soul of the planet is looming. This new scenario has spawned a host of fresh characters to drive the story.
One young hero is Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), a US pilot, who grew up in an orphanage after his parents were killed in the first attack and who has now joined the military to become one of their best fighter pilots. His fiancé is Patricia Whitmore, the ex-President’s daughter.
Another personality is Dylan Dubrow-Hiller (Jesse Usher), the step-son of the Will Smith character in the original film, who has a history with Morrison and joins forces for the showdown with the enemy.
Several characters from the original have been resurrected, including Jeff Goldblum, as scientist and activist David Levinson; Judd Hirsch, as David’s headstrong father; Bill Pullman, as the former President Thomas J. Whitmore; and an unrecognisable Brent Spiner (‘Star Trek’) as Dr Brackish Okun, the unkempt and highly excitable scientist who was formerly in charge of research at Area 51. He awakens 20 years after his coma from the first attack, and then applies his knowledge in helping thwart the new invasion.
William Fichter surfaces as US General, Joshua Adams, who finds himself in the hot seat and in charge of the US forces in their battle against the aliens.
‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ is a hectic, unrelenting attack on the senses and although character development is far better than you’d find in your average CGI-driven action escapade, and the acting is solid, the film remains, in essence, a sophisticated video game on steroids.
Other Releases (Syopsis)
FILM: CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE
CAST: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Aaron Paul
DIRECTOR: Rawson Marshall Thurber
One-time bullied geek Calvin (Kevin Hart), who grew up to be a lethal CIA agent, comes home for his high school reunion. Claiming to be on a top-secret case, he enlists the help of the former “big man on campus,” Bob (Dwayne Johnson), now an accountant who misses his glory days. But, before this staid number-cruncher realises what he’s getting into, it’s too late to get out, as his increasingly unpredictable new friend drags him through a world of shoot-outs, double-crosses and espionage.
Pairing Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart as unlikely former high school friends, and even unlikelier spy-busting, world-saving, accidental partners on the run, director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s ‘Central Intelligence’ offers a fast-paced mash-up of comedy and explosive action.
The movie also plays on a reversal of expectations – both for its main characters and the actors who bring them to life.
“What really caught my attention and appealed to me was the idea of taking this premise and flipping it on its ear,” says Johnson, “putting me in more of the comedy role and putting Kevin, one of the world’s most successful comedians, a guy who’s just on fire, in more of the straight role. So we’re both thrown into a scenario where we have to stretch and work some different muscles, and then somewhere it all intersects and we meet in the middle.”
“I’m pretty much the straight man in this film and Dwayne carries the comedy load, which we thought would be refreshing and fun, and something different,” adds Hart. “Plus, you still get the Dwayne everyone loves to see – the guy who can beat the living s**t out of people. But the combination of DJ and myself, that’s where we win. The energy is amazing.”
Referencing the stars’ 12-inch height differential as an ongoing visual punch line, Director Rawson Marshall Thurber recalls their first meeting prior to production. “They may be different shapes and sizes, but they’re cut from the same cloth. Seeing them sitting across the table from each other or standing side by side, I mean, it’s just a layup. They’re so great together; so charismatic as individuals and as a team, and so much alike in their generosity and the way they take the work seriously, but don’t take themselves so seriously. That level of chemistry isn’t a function of directing, or writing, even with the best scenarios and situations; it’s pixie dust. It’s something you cross your fingers and hope to get.”
FILM: I SAW THE LIGHT
CAST: Elizabeth Olsen, Maddie Hasson, Tom Hiddleston
DIRECTOR: Marc Abraham
‘I Saw The Light’ tells the story of the country-western singer Hank Williams, who in his brief life created one of the greatest bodies of work in American music. The film chronicles his rise to fame and its tragic effect on his health and personal life.
FILM: THE KEEPING ROOM
CAST: Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, Sam Worthington
DIRECTOR: Jordan Horowitz
A Southern woman retreats to an isolated farmhouse after narrowly escaping an attempted assault from two rogue Union Army soldiers in the waning days of the Civil War. Left to fend for themselves, a trio of women including her sister and a slave, are forced to take up arms and barricade their home from the revenge-fuelled attackers.