“Independence Day: Resurgence” (PG-13) 1 1/2 stars (out of 4)
“Independence Day” returns not with a bang – but a huge whimper – with “Independence Day: Resurgence,” a lackluster sequel to the entertaining 1996 original. Despite having 20 years to formulate something new and exciting, co-writer/director Roland Emmerich instead rehashes the original story (the aliens are back, and once again, they want to destroy Earth) – and making it worse by replacing the electrifying Will Smith (whose character is dead) with the boring duo of Liam Hemsworth (as a hotshot pilot) and Jessie T. Usher (as Smith’s son – another hotshot pilot).
Wasting the talents of his most valuable assets (chief among them, Jeff Goldblum), Emmerich instead relies on a younger, unimpressive cast to tow the line. Left with little to go on after that, the director amply uses wiz-bang visual effects (which are no doubt great) and B-movie dialogue peppered with lame one-liners (“It’s the 4th of July, let’s show them some fireworks!”) in a desperate attempt to save the film. It’s a monster disappointment.
Tim reviews “Independence Day: Resurgence” and “Free State of Jones” on KQRS at 33:30 in.
“Free State of Jones” (R) 1 1/2 stars (out of 4)
The timing is odd for the release of “Free State of Jones,” a historical account of controversial Civil War figure Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey), who rallied fellow Confederate Army deserters and runaway slaves against the crumbling Confederate hierarchy in Jones County, Mississippi, in the 1860s. While the film is too long at 2 hours and 20 minutes it’s short on the story of Knight himself, thanks to a confusingly-placed side narrative about one of his descendants 80 years after the main events of the movie.
Like any tale based on history, “Free State of Jones” seems to play fast and loose with the facts – either with inaccuracies or ignoring large segments of Knight’s life. The story would have been best served as a History Channel miniseries.