Independence Day: Resurgence is everything you were probably expecting and less. The aliens return, this time in a 3,000-mile wide mothership that has its own gravitational field, the better to drop Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, and pretty much every other global landmark. It’s here, in these frequent sequences of epic destruction, that the film crackles with something approaching giddy, ghastly good cheer. But the movie’s a rollicking bummer, and a messy one at that. Various plot lines involving everything from a Congolese warlord (Oparei) to Jessie Usher as the hotshot pilot son of Will Smith’s original character (lamely, it’s explained that although he survived the first invasion, USMC Captain Hiller perished while flight-testing some alien tech-enhanced hardware) converge and collide to little emotional affect. Ultimately, ID:R is what it is, planetary carnage on a mammoth scale, with some humans thrown in for good measure. It renders 1996’s Independence Day slightly less of a guilty pleasure.Read a full review of Independence Day: Resurgence.
Every generation gets the iconic treatments it deserves, and that’s what had me worried about this new Hollywood take on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ enduring fictional megastar, Tarzan. As it turns out, The Legend of Tarzan put most of my fears to rest by creating animals and jungles that serve and enhance the story rather than detracting from it. These days, Tarzan (Skarsgård) is enjoying his manhood back in England as Lord Greystoke, a member of the House of Lords and husband to his longtime love, Jane (Robbie). When he returns to the Congo, he is accompanied by George Washington Williams (Jackson), an American soldier and adventurer who wants to document Belgium’s rumored enslavement of the native population. The film’s full-throated embrace of the story’s colonialist underpinnings, Skarsgård’s finely sculpted abs, Robbie’s self-actualized womanhood, and the historical introduction of George Washington Williams make The Legend of Tarzan if not king of the jungle then at least a member in good standing of the royal court.Read a full review of The Legend of Tarzan.