BE WARNED. YOU WILL BE SPOILED IF YOU READ ON.
So last night Jared and I went to the cinema to catch a special double bill of the original 1996 Independence Day followed by the midnight premier of Resurgence. My first immediate reaction after leaving the cinema at 2am this morning was What did I just watch?, That was AMAZING and then finally no, wait… was it? As with most hollywood blockbusters these days, my reactions violently swayed from marvelled and impressed to completely dissatisfied and deflated.
Let’s just launch into shall we? Jasmin a.k.a my FAVE character (Vivica A. Fox). Remember her? The girlfriend-then-wife of Cpt. Steve Hiller (Will Smith) who was tough, quick-thinking and completely unapologetic about her job as an exotic dancer?
Well, in 2016 she’s a Doctor, we assume, by her white coat and scrubs as she rushes in to save a newly born baby and her mother from being caught in the collapsing hospital. She has a total of about ten words and then FALLS TO HER DEATH as the hospital goes down. That’s it. That’s her whole involvement in the film. Sorry, what? You’re not going to explain how this amazing black woman went from being an exotic dancer to a doctor? Or even give her more substance? Because to be honest that would be more interesting than watching her ow grown up son, Dylan (Jesse T. Usher) have the weakest character development I’ve ever seen. Not to mention that Cpt. Hiller’s death was footnoted so quickly in passing that I almost missed it. He died on a test flight. Awesome. Way to bulldoze over the best part of the original film.
MOVING ON to a more general look at the gender divide, let’s address the absence of Connie Spano (Margaret Collins) – where was she? Not even a cameo role. This film jammed packed as many old cast characters in as possible, but actually the only characters that had any significance to the plot were men. Again, awesome. In fact the most effective characters for change in Resurgence were men. President Lanford died, actually, you didn’t even get to see her die, it was just assumed, because that’s how unimportant she was. The phycologist Catherine Marceaux (Charlotte Gainsbourg) should’ve had a much larger role, her research was clearly important and it annoyed me how it was fobbed off by Dr. Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) like it was nothing. Especially after the obvious links between her patients, President Whitmore, Dr Okun and Dikembe Umbutu. There was a general disregard of mental health here; used a troupe for alien contact and telepathic relations. Either they’re crazy or possessed right? I digress. Catherine’s role looked promising but by the end she had withered away to a badly placed love interest for Dr. Levinson. Rain Lao (Angelababy) is robbed of any purpose, immediately positioned as the uninterested love interest of Charlie. She has barely any lines and pretty much just fills a box labeled ‘Asian’. Boo.
Patricia Whitmore (Malka Monroe) could’ve been a new and exciting face but was washed away by the legacy of her father, who still had a much bigger role than she did. In the beginning she seems to act as a go between, between Dylan and her fiancé Jake (Liam Hemsworth) and despite apparently being an amazing pilot and part of this weird Power Ranger-esk squad of the next generation, her action scene was bland.
I’m going to move onto this now, because despite REALLY enjoying the film whilst it was on, this was one bit that really made me cringe. This amping up of the next generation. Why do all films do this in the worst possible way? In Resurgence it’s particularly bad because none of these kids have any backstory, apart from Patricia and Dylan very minutely. As the film opens on a familiar interaction between Jake and Charlie (Travis Trope), the latter states ‘you’re the only family I’ve got’. This surely invites for a backstory, but we are disappointed because we never learn anything about Charlie, or his relationship with Jake. In fact Dylan and Jake don’t even seem to have a connection beyond a badly explained backstory which only complicates any familiarity between them and us. If these are 2016’s Smith and Goldblum, they are sorely disappointing.
I basically felt that the new generation were troupes and when I compared them to Power Rangers, they actually fit perfectly. Which obviously lacks originality and imagination. I feel cheated.
I’d also like to address the almost-but-not-quite gay relationship between Dr Isaacs and Dr Okun. Whilst their relationship appears platonic and professional, it seems that the producers felt that not all the PC boxes had been ticked, so as a teasing afterthought, they threw in a homosexual interest, just shy of actual physical contact. There was no confirmation the same way that Patricia and Jake were so obviously coupled. When Okun awakes from his coma, there’s no passionate reunion, just plant talk. Later they hold hands, like, it’s still the 50’s and that basically implies love. It’s bland and disingenuous to me. An unfortunate occurrence in many films these days, teasing in LGBT characters instead of proper representation. Read this great article about it in the Guardian today.
There are so many loose ends and bad plots in this film it’s difficult to not waffle on more and despite being set to be one of the biggest films of the year, it seems like they only mean financially. Resurgence is a rushed film, it’s thrilling to watch; the CGI and visual affects are breathtaking and you’re smacked with action from start to finish. Like any modern space movie, it was made for cinematic experience so I’d recommend going to see it if space is your thing. But be warned, it’s not Independence Day. There are no characters to relate to, even the old cast seem bland and wooden. Go, be dazzled, but don’t expect Will Smith punching an alien in the face or the intensity of having a space ship over your town. Good luck.
EDIT: A friend of mine just made an excellent point about London. How did they manage to rebuild the major cities of the world in 20 years when it’s taken them that long to just rebuild the World Trade Centre?