Independence Day: Resurgence is filmmaking-by-focus-group: dumb, ugly and deserving of the contempt with which it treats its audience. I haven’t snorted this much at a movie since Oliver’s Story (John Korti, USA, 1978). Some of the cast of the 1996 Independence Day (Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum) returns, looking 20 years more tired and 20 years less attractive; others are sentimentalised in their prime as tacky oil paintings (Will Smith). Liam Hemsworth is meant to be the current eye candy: he is a pretty face, an ineffectual talent and lacks the threat of danger or surprise that could make him sexy. The film can’t decide whether to jingo it up for America’s 4th of July or to more directly address the Chinese market. The special effects look like two-dimensional cartoons. It’s so dispiriting you can’t even take pleasure in your own jeering; it left me too sad and tired to even walk out before the end; it’s Ronald Emmerich’s fault.
Sylvester Stallone has had so many facelifts he now looks like an unsexy version of the cartoons Mad Magazine used to do of him in the 70’s. Yet he’s now been starring in big-budget movies for close to 40 years. Bullet to the Head (James Bonomo, USA, 2012) also had a theatrical release earlier this year and is now out on DVD plus there are two more films currently in postproduction. The man’s career is unstoppable. Why that is so is a mystery: I can’t think of another star who’s sustained that kind of career for that long with barely two good films in his filmography — The Expendables 2 isn’t one of them. Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jean-Claude van Damme, Chuck Norris, Dolph Lundgren and other 80’s action stars parade through the film like a taxidermist’s prize exhibit. Jet Li and Jason Statham figure as more recent generations of action stars. Liam Hemsworth presumably wants to join the club. It was a hit.