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Review of Independence Day: Resurgence

June 27, 2016

1996 - 2016, twenty years have passed since I watched "Independence Day" in Kolkata's prestigious Globe Cinema Hall. That nostalgic memory still fascinates me even today. I was a teenage boy who just got his wings and started exploring the World beyond his den. Unlike the kids of present generation, we were very silly and naive. Mobile phone service was just started in Kolkata but it was so expensive and a distant dream for the middle class people like us. Boring and tasteless news broadcasting by All India Radio and state run TV network Doordarshan or the news publishing by the morning Newspapers were all that news feeding sources we had during those days. Being the young teenagers of post 1991 economic liberalization in India, we wanted to know more, do more and of course get more. The giant multinational company PepsiCo also realized the aspirations of the Indian youth of the Nineties and used the slogan "Yeh Dil Maange More!" in 1998. We didn't have any clear idea about economic reforms but we definitely started to feel the difference especially because of the introduction of computers in our life. Every new stuff that was alien to us, also enthralled us. It was the first time I had visited Globe Cinema Hall and there I found something extraordinary which caught my full attention and literally took me out of this World. The Dolby Digital Sound System was introduced to me for the first time in my life.

Oh boy! Watching a global disaster movie like "Independence Day" on a big and wider screen with Dolby Digital sound, was quite an experience. "Independence Day" was about a story of an apocalypse in biblical proportions and a fight led by a superpower nation against an alien invasion. Humans won the war and saved their race from annihilation on a global scale. The human race was on the brink of extinction but the valor of a fighter pilot Captain Steven Hiller (played by Will Smith), the intelligence of a computer expert cum satellite technician David Levinson (played by Jeff Goldblum) and the leadership of American President Thomas J. Whitmore (played by Bill Pullman) saved the humanity.

"We will not go quietly into the night!
We will not vanish without a fight!
We're going to live on!
We're going to survive!
Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!"

President Thomas J. Whitmore (played by Bill Pullman)
Address to the U.S. Fighter Pilots in "Independence Day" (1996)

Those are the words that thrilled me and I believe, everyone else in the audience. For a moment, I even felt the shivering in my body. I was touched by his words and his way of addressing the pilots who were getting briefed for the battle of their life. Be it the human values, the leadership, the arrogance, the pride, the glory, everything was American, and yet, I experienced the adventure like my own.

Twenty years later, a sequel "Independence Day: Resurgence" has come to the town which made me excited like a kid. I have watched the movie but I felt nothing at all and when I say that, it means the film didn't meet my expectations. I wish it would surprise me but I am afraid it has failed to do so. This sequel film has most of the previous along with some new characters, a good plot, state of the art visual effects and everything that one could have asked for but I think it has clearly missed out some fundamental elements. Even though the character of Captain Steven Hiller (played by Will Smith) is missing in this film but that absence of Will Smith has been handled quite intelligently by the Script Writers. However, I think the impact of the heroism and courage of one hero in "Independence Day" (1996) has never been achieved by this group of heroes in "Independence Day: Resurgence" (2016). If the central leadership of the resistance in a war film, is changed so frequently that one gets killed and another takes his or her place and so on, that doesn't leave any serious impact on the minds of the audience. Regardless of the gender, the leader should be the one prime character in such a global disaster movie like this one. People love to see the saga of a leader who fights from the beginning, falls but rises again, leads his or her followers, takes the fight to the enemy and emerges victorious in the end. People usually relate themselves to that character. I guess too many cooks have spoilt this broth. The presence of too many heroes and leaders is the reason that this movie has failed to touch the nerve of the audience. The state of the art visual effect might fascinate you but cannot help the movie stay in your heart for long. I also felt the same kind of disappointment after watching "Jurassic World" (2015) directed by Colin Trevorrow. It was the 4th sequel of "Jurassic Park" (1993) directed by Steven Spielberg. Despite the fact that "Jurassic Park" was not a ghost story, it still gave me two sleepless nights in 1993. But when I asked myself about my cold reaction after watching the new "Jurassic World" (2015), I realized that it was the element of surprise that was missing in that film. Same goes for "Independence Day: Resurgence" (2016). Making sequel films is nothing new in Hollywood. Bond series, Star Wars series, Star Trek series, Superhero series were all commercially successful given the fact that all of them had something new and surprising as well as enjoyment for all. The success of any film is generally determined by its box office collections but how good or bad, people feel about a movie, that I think, defines the real success of a film. The makers of "Independence Day: Resurgence" perhaps thought differently that a group of heroes comprising a Caucasian American hero, an African American hero, a Chinese Hero and an African Warlord hero would help the film reaching out to the broader part of the audience around the World. They didn't formulate any character like a Russian hero or an Indian hero in this film because it doesn’t work in that fashion in Hollywood. What matters the most to them is the present equation of the major political powers in the World. They also calculate the feasibility of penetrating and grabbing new overseas markets while making a film. I have seen more and more Chinese presence in the recent global disaster kind of Hollywood movies, such as "2012" directed by Roland Emmerich, "Gravity" directed by Alfonso Cuarón, "The Martian" directed by Ridley Scott, you name it. On the backdrop of China's rise in the World arena, China's role has been turned positive in the Hollywood movies.

I am a big fan of Director Roland Emmerich because I admire his previous works but with all due respect to him, I would like to point out a few features of "Independence Day: Resurgence". The diameter of the Moon is little more than 2000 miles. The last alien mother ship that invaded Earth in 1996, was one fourth the size of the Moon. This time, it's bigger than the last one. This mother ship is 3000 miles wide which means it is even bigger than the Moon. Both the alien mother ships of 1996 and 2016 have taken a popular route of coming from the backside of the Moon, almost touching its surface, facing the Earth on its horizon and then heading towards Earth. Hollywood actually loves this route for designing the path of every extraterrestrial object coming towards Earth. In 1996, the mother ship didn't enter into the atmosphere of Earth rather positioned 36 different spacecrafts in different places across the World. All of them were hovering in the sky as the film didn't at least show any landing scene. But the sequel movie shows something else and even an old spacecraft which actually landed in central Africa during last invasion. This new mother ship has its own gravity which caught a Space Tug while passing the Moon. This same Space Tug, before being caught by the alien mother ship, already made a couple of space travels of coming from the Moon to the Earth and then going back to the Moon by escaping from the gravitational pull of the Earth, and couldn't just get away from the mother ship’s gravity. The film also didn't give us any indication that the mother ship got separated into multiple spacecrafts. So, the mother ship entered into the atmosphere of the Earth in one piece. Having a strong gravity, it started to pull buildings, cars, humans etc. from the surface of the Earth. The mother ship first destroyed Singapore (anybody can recognize the iconic Marina Bay Sands building in Singapore), then London and finally landed in Atlantic Ocean by deploying its big legs. One leg of that mother ship even touched delicately the backside of the White House in Washington DC before coming to a halt. If you take a look at its course to Earth for landing, from Singapore to London to Washington DC, seems little peculiar to me especially if I consider the distance between these cities. In another scene of its landing sequence, the father of David Levinson, Julius Levinson (played by Judd Hirsch) who was fishing in a small boat near the coast line, also saw the landing of the mother ship so closely and had to escape from a Tsunami which was created only by the touchdown of the mother ship in the Ocean. But Julius Levinson survived and was picked up by some kids. They abandoned their car and took a bus. They finally reached the surrounding area of Area 51 in Nevada desert. If you examine the map of USA, you'll find out that Nevada desert is located close to the west cost of USA. Since Washington DC is situated in the east cost of USA, you might get confused about the actual landing site of the align mother ship. Is it the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean? In a hypothetical scenario, what if the Moon somehow gets away from its orbit and slowly but surely collides with the Earth, what will happen then? Should the Moon even comes too close to the Earth, Earth’s tidal situations would change or gigantic Tsunamis might appear but nothing had happened when the mother ship which is even bigger than the Moon, landed on the surface of the Earth. I am just a common man but curious about how a scientist or an astrophysicist gets into a conclusion after watching this film. I think the makers of "Independence Day: Resurgence" should have done a little more research before writing the script.

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