Independence Day: Resurgence was certainly something. I’m just not sure what that something was.

As a student of writing, I was completely flummoxed by this movie. It wasn’t that the dialogue was horrible (though mostly it was) or that the plot was poor (because it wasn’t, if considered only in the broadest terms), it was that it was comprised almost exclusively of components that writers are constantly told will make a story bad.

And it wasn’t the occasional slip. This movie was wall-to-wall, balls out, unrelenting, unabashed cheesiness.

I counted (beware: SPOILERS ahead):

  • numerous outrageous McGuffins (including the Royal McGuffin with Cheese: a sentient robotic white sphere—and intergalactic lifesaver—that learns English ridiculously quickly so it can explain the invading aliens’ back story and tell humanity how to defeat them)
  • multiple irrelevant, unnecessary side characters and events (for example, a group of Russian treasure hunters in the Pacific Ocean who never interact with any other characters and whose only reason for being in the film appears to be as an excuse to introduce a graphic of the aliens drilling into the earth’s core so we know how much time humanity has left before irreversible annihilation (complete with a countdown timer accurate to the millisecond!))
  • cookie cutter characters of every clichéd persuasion (President’s daughter loves ace fighter pilot—and she is an ace fighter pilot herself! Annoying, cowardly government nerd in glasses acts in self-interest but later redeems himself by killing multiple trained alien warriors with a laser gun he just picked up!)
  • the cheesiest stock developments in action sequences (Dorky friend turns fighter jet around in an attempt to save hero, shoots two alien ships on his tail, both turn and fly towards the slowly closing alien hangar door…and the nerdy guy makes it out in the nick of time! But wait, where is the hero? Dorky friend looks left, he looks right—did he make it? (The tension is out of control!) ZOOM! There’s the hero, shooting past with a wisecrack like a scene out of Top Gun!)
  • glaring inconsistencies, plot holes and lazy pseudo-science too numerous to mention.

I am shocked a script as blatantly, unashamedly tongue-in-cheek as this one made it into production. If I had written it I would have been embarrassed to hand it over to the producer. And it was so obvious, so constant, so in your face, that it had to be deliberate.

But you know what? Somehow, despite all of this, I enjoyed the movie. Looking back on what we had just seen, my mate and I reflected on the craziness and laughed as hard as we have in years. The movie was completely outrageous. It was like your Dad’s worst Christmas jokes delivered by an all-star cast with unwavering confidence for two hours straight. You love it because it is absurd. In any rational world it should not exist.

I wouldn’t say I’d recommend seeing it. But if you are a student of writing, you can learn a lot from this movie. If you love cheesy action flicks, if for some reason you forgot that the original Independence Day wasn’t actually as rip-snorting as you originally thought it was, then get on board and laugh your heart out.

Rating: one alien death star helmed by cheese.


But wait, there’s more!

In case you don’t believe the level of preposterousness in this movie just yet, here are some of my favourite outlandish moments (more SPOILERS):

  • Ace jet fighter pilot flies over a city as it is being demolished by the aliens, only to see his own mother atop a crumbling building just as the last rescue helicopter flies away. He calls in reinforcements and another helicopter turns up out of nowhere—but his mother chooses to put a young mother and her newborn baby on first! She is left clinging to the chopper as it flies away, but can’t hold on, leaving her son to watch as she falls into the rubble cloud of the collapsing building.
  • A busload of children is driven across the exact same salt flats where the military is attempting to detonate a cold fusion bomb to destroy the alien queen. Jeff Goldblum is the man behind the cold fusion bomb plan and is about to set the bomb off—only to see his own father is driving the busload of children! But didn’t he die in the tidal wave caused by the alien ship landing earlier in the film, you ask? No, he survived with only a concussion! Cue hilarious reunion as father and son bicker while alien queen bears down on them.
  • Alien queen is protected by a personal shield, which the laser bullets from the jet fighters can’t penetrate—until they can all of a sudden, when fired by the female hero in the last remaining jet fighter. But wait, it turns out that even without a shield she is invulnerable! That is, until the male hero fires from the alien jet fighter he stole from the alien spaceship earlier in the movie, gunning her down in the back as she attempts to run away. Lucky the African warlord character who kills alien foot soldiers with machetes told him that the aliens need to be targeted from behind! Bam!

I could go on. I really, really could go on, for there were dozens of these improbable situations, ridiculous realisations and plot turns.

Words can’t explain: you’ll have to see it for yourself to (dis)believe it.

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