Tag Archive: Jeff Goldblum

Independence Day is one of the films responsible for defining the modern summer blockbuster. It was big, goofy and a lot fun, which ultimately cemented it as one of the best disaster movies of all time. Sequels weren’t quite as common when the film was initially released, but 20 years later, Hollywood is intent on reviving every single existing property. So audiences are treated to Independence Day: Resurgence, a completely unnecessary rehash that loses much of the charm of the original. It may not be as terrible as one would expect, but it’s ultimately forgettable and doesn’t even deliver any great disaster sequences that we’ve come to expect from director Roland Emmerich.

It’s been 20 years since an alien threat came to Earth and nearly wiped out the human race. Since defeating them, humans have taken the technologies that they brought and used them to ensure peace and develop space exploration. On the anniversary of the attack, scientist David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) travels to Africa to investigate a leftover alien spacecraft that has mysteriously turned on its lights. This strange occurrence may have something to do with the arrival of a strange alien spacecraft on the surface of Mars. Levinson believes that this could be a different, more peaceful alien race, but President Elizabeth Lanford (Sela Ward) orders an attack on the extraterrestrials. But soon another spacecraft arrives, one that’s even more enormous than the ones that came before it. When the alien race begins to drill into the Earth’s core, Levinson is reunited with former president Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman). They and a trio of young military pilots (Liam Hemsworth, Jessie T. Usher and Maika Monroe) must work together to bring down the invaders.

The essential elements of the plot are almost identical to the original film: an alien race arrives on Earth and a group of diverse individuals from around the globe must figure out a way to defeat them. But this time, Emmerich and his co-writers seem to have taken the approach that bigger is better; instead of a dozens of large spaceships, this time the aliens arrive in a single vessel that’s 3,000-miles wide. It’s a logical way to raise the stakes, but nothing ever comes across as more intense or interesting. It’s just a lot of formulaic sci-fi action that would feel more at home in the late 90s than today. You could look at this as a welcome throwback to earlier blockbusters, but everything from the humor, to the look, to the set pieces feels incredibly dated. The only action sequence that really works is the climactic chase between the alien queen and a school bus full of kids. It’s certainly not amazing, but it at least feels different enough to stick in your mind.

Although 20th Century Fox would have probably loved to see the return of Will Smith to the sequel, they were unable to drum up the $50 million paycheck that he required. Luckily, we are treated to the return of Goldblum, Pullman and Judd Hirsch, among several others. Maybe it’s because they were introduced in the previous film, but these three actors portray the only characters worth caring about. The film introduces a younger generation of characters and while Hemsworth, Usher and Monroe give fine performances, their characters are paper-thin and generally uninteresting. The younger cast ultimately serves as an apt metaphor for Independence Day: Resurgence; it may have a massive budget and epic scale, but it doesn’t even come close to matching the fun experience of the original.

Independence Day: resurgence receives 2/4


ImageIf it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

This seems to be the mantra that Wes Anderson takes in regards to his directorial style and The Grand Budapest Hotel, his eighth feature film, is no different. Anderson’s signature style is on full display here and fans of his work will be happy to see it. Anderson’s harshest critics will complain that all of his movies are the same and try too hard to be cute, but his style is so effective that it would be a shame to see him abandon it. Filled with a star studded cast of Anderson regulars and featuring an Anderson-style telling of what could have otherwise been a dark tale, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a scrumptious and hysterically funny treat.

Taking place throughout several different time periods, the film switches between three aspect ratios (1.33, 1.85, and 2.35:1) to distinguish what year the film is currently in. Not only does this add to Anderson’s quirky style, it also helps aide the audience’s understanding of the story. It’s certainly helpful, but the film’s first few scenes still feel chaotic in structure. We are introduced to a young girl reading a memoir written by an aging author (Tom Wilkinson) who explains how his younger self (Jude Law) met a man named Zero Mustafa (F. Murray Abraham) in the 1960s. Mustafa tells the author a tale of his younger self and how he became the owner of the Grand Budapest Hotel.

Mustafa’s story begins in 1932, the year when the majority of the film takes place. Mustafa explains that as a young man (Tony Revolori), he was the lobby boy at the Grand Budapest. He worked for Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) the charming concierge of the hotel. Fiennes, who is often designated to playing the villain in his films, seems to be having the time of his life with the role. Gustave is a womanizer who enjoys spending his nights with older, more experienced women and Fiennes seems so confident and natural in the role that his excessive flirtation never becomes overbearing.

Through a newspaper article, Gustave is informed that one of his lovers named Madame D (Tilda Swinton) has passed away. This leads him to travel to her estate for the wake and the reading of the will. Gustave inherits Boy with Apple, an extremely valuable painting that Madame D’s son, Dmitri Desgoffe-und-Taxis (Adrien Brody), wanted for himself. Gustave and Zero steal and hide the valuable painting, just before Gustave is arrested for the murder of Madame D.

It may not sound like an original setup, but Anderson’s unique vision keeps the story from feeling stale. In fact, viewers will hardly have any time to focus on holes in the story, as they will be enraptured by the visuals occurring on screen. Wes Anderson films have always looked good, but The Grand Budapest Hotel may just be his prettiest film yet. The excessive use of pinks, purples, blues and yellows make the film seem more delicious than a treat made by Saoirse Ronan’s Agatha in the Mendl’s bakery. The fantastic set and costume design, along with the gorgeous cinematography from Robert D. Yeoman, make this a feast for the eyes. You could watch the entire film without sound and still enjoy every minute of it.

It could be interesting to see Anderson change up his style in the future, but for now, his trademark use of pans, zooms, tracking shots, static symmetrical shots and gorgeous miniatures are more than welcome. Anderson has stated that the delightful script full of witty dialogue was inspired by “The World of Yesterday”, an autobiography written by Stefan Zweig. From this, we can interpret the film as a love letter to Zweig, a remembrance of stories that have been passed down and an affinity for days gone by.

Viewers checking into The Grand Budapest Hotel are sure to enjoy their stay.

The Grand Budapest Hotel receives 3.5/4