MOVIE BUFF-ET: Independence Day sequel negotiates familiar territory

Jeff Goldblum and Liam Hemsworth star in Independence Day: Resurgence / 20th Century Fox

Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day: Resurgence is exactly what you would expect it to be. If you enjoyed the 1996 original, then chances are you might like the sequel.

Much of the original cast — Jeff Goldblum, Brent Spiner, Bill Pullman and Sela Ward — is reunited in some form or fashion, except for Will Smith, whose turn in the original shot him from being a TV and rap performer to being a full-fledged movie star. It’s doubtful this film will launch a young performer on a similar trajectory despite introducing a gaggle of new alien fighters — Liam Hemsworth, Jessie Usher, and Maika Monroe.

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It’s been 20 years since the Earth united to thwart the alien invasion in the original movie, and the world has made good use of the alien technology to advance and unite humankind, but the United Nations has also formed a worldwide Earth Space Defense, based at Area 51 with satellite bases on the moon and Mars, in hopes of fending off another attack should it occur. The movie, of course, is the story of the second attack.

Many aliens were trapped on Earth after their defeat. While imprisoned at Area 51, they begin to wake from dormancy, which signals a new invasion wave.

The film has wonderful special effects, but what movie today doesn’t? What it lacks is the shock value of the original movie. It also fails to capture the devil-may-care attitude or the heart of the first film, and it’s not like the original was packed with emotion.

I enjoyed the spectacle and action of the movie; however, there is nothing special about this film, which ultimately seemed more like a remake than a sequel, which is sort of a trend these days.

While films like Creed and Star Wars: The Force of Awakens both successfully traveled that road, most of these rehash efforts fall flat, and by referencing the earlier movie, only further detail their inferiority.

I personally have no issue whatsoever with sequels that advance the stories of popular characters, but serving up the same story with a sprinkling of new characters is about as appealing as eating week-old leftovers with ketchup. There might be a hint of the original flavor, but ultimately it’s boring and unfulfilling.

Grade: C-

Classics Corner


While it’s virtually impossible at this late date to jet to New York and secure tickets to see the Broadway smash Hamilton for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, there is a much less expensive and exasperating option. Watch 1776 on home video instead.

The 1972 film based on the 1969 musical isn’t nearly as hip as Hamilton or likely as historically accurate, but it does show the complexities and difficulties behind the colonies’ vote for independence from Great Britain.

The film revolves around John Adams (William Daniels), Benjamin Franklin (Howard Da Silva), Thomas Jefferson (Ken Howard) and John Dickinson (Donald Madden), who all give solid performances in the film, directed by Peter Hunt, and delineates the thinking process of the very different viewpoints of the colonies represented in the Continental Congress.

Some of the dialog and lyrics are taken directly from the correspondence and diaries of our founding fathers.

It’s an entertaining film that’s somewhat educational, despite some issues with its historicity.

Tarzan’s New York Adventure

With a new Tarzan film opening in theaters today, I’m not going to miss the opportunity to write about one of the film series that cemented my love for movies as a kid.

While I love the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies, I wouldn’t argue they are great movies, but they are exceptionally fun adventures if you are willing to just go with the flow or just appreciate the nonsense.

No, the films aren’t particularly faithful to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels, but even the author found Weissmuller and his original co-star Maureen O’Sullivan engaging on the big screen as his famous characters.

Tarzan’s New York Adventure, directed by Richard Thorpe in 1942, is the sixth and final Weissmuller Tarzan film made by MGM, the gold standard of studios during Hollywood’s golden age, and it contains everything that made these movies so fun and so cringe-worthy at the same time.

Weissmuller would make six more Tarzan films for RKO from 1943-47, but O’Sullivan left the series following this movie. RKO’s production values weren’t up to MGM’s standards, and O’Sullivan was missed, but the series chugged along for six more years.

The plot is just what the title describes as the noble savage has to negotiate his way through the concrete jungle and judicial system of New York to be united with his adoptive son, “Boy.” Yes, Tarzan names his son Boy (Johnny Sheffield), and Jane let him.

A couple brings Boy to the states to work his charms on animals in a circus act when it appears Tarzan and Jane died in an intentionally set fire, started as a means to separate the child from his adoptive parents. Tarzan, Jane, and Cheetah the chimp escape peril and follow the kidnappers to New York, and all sorts of mayhem ensue. Cheetah steals every scene she’s in. The movies aren’t progressive at all, but viewed in the proper context, they can be fun for families.