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"We had 20 years to prepare..." reads the tag line for Roland Emmerich's pending sci-fi disaster film, Independence Day: Resurgence. But to prepare for what? The buzz on the Independence Day sequel has been kept relatively quiet, seeing as how the movie is due in theaters in a few days. Interviews have been limited, and U.S. press haven't screened the film. Well, international press must have been treated to a screening, because the first wave of UK film reviews just dropped. Is Resurgence any good?
Let's ask The Guardian first, who assigned Peter Bradshaw (no, not the guy from The Onion) the Independence Day: Resurgence review. He gave it one star. But, like, a mixed one star? Not exactly. Bradshaw writes:
They're back. And our boffins' futile, wrist-flapping panic spreads to cinema auditoria all over the globe as people everywhere realise that the most planet-smashingly boring sci-fi sequel in history is on its way to crush our minds and empty our wallets and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.
Allowing the same blend of multiplex-rattling spectacle and 'yeah, you got us' daftness, Emmerich has gone all out to recapture his '96 mojo and, for the most part, succeeds. While the occasional call-back clunks (Jessie Usher as orphaned-son-of-Will-Smith Dylan Hiller fails to sell the line, "Get ready for a close encounter, bitch!", but we're not sure who ever could), other riffs prove sonorously nostalgic. And we're not just talking about another death-defying dog.
There's another dog? God, we may HAVE to see this!
Only one trade posted a review. The Hollywood Reporter splits the difference, calling the movie "ridiculous," but also "rollicking good fun."
Emmerich and his visual effects teams pull out all the stops and there's a glorious abysmal beauty in never-ending shots of continent-wide spaceships landing and mayhem being wreaked. But for all that massy weightiness, it's to the film's credit that it always takes time to reassure us of the safety of a little dog.
Resurgence inflates the scale of the alien threat to such a preposterous degree -- the mothership takes up roughly an eighth of the Earth's total surface -- that the queues of honking traffic and rooftop helicopter rescues we're supposed to invest in can't help but feel like microscopic trifles. The threat only becomes palpable and human-scaled again in the film's surprisingly well-staged giant monster finale, in which a school bus with Goldblum at the wheel is chased across the desert by what's effectively the creature from Cloverfield with braids. It's consummately stupid, but at that point, stupid feels like an improvement.
Is stupid an improvement? I'd love to tell you, but there haven't been screenings of Independence Day: Resurgence in the U.S. (a troubling sign), so this is all we have to go on. We plan on seeing it Thursday night, and will run a review on CinemaBlend right after. Until then, be aware of this early buzz.