Tag Archive: Will Smith


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

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A third Men in Black film was unnecessary, but I think that most moviegoers are happy to have it. While not the most memorable series, these films have always managed to be a fun diversion for anyone seeking an hour and half of entertainment. The original was one of my favorite films to watch as a kid and, even if the second one could not live up to the first, I still found it to be a modest sequel. Now, nearly ten years after Men In Black 2, Will Smith returns to the series, along with Tommy Lee Jones and director Barry Sonnenfeld. While it may be a slight improvement over its predecessor, Men In Black 3 cannot live up to the standard set by the original film.

An alien criminal named Boris the Animal (Jemain Clement) escapes from prison with the intentions of seeking against Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones). Decades ago, Agent K shot off the arm of Boris and put him behind bars. Boris the Animal discovers a way to travel back in time, where he kills Agent K. All evidence of the modern day Agent K disappears and the only person who remembers that he existed is Agent J (Will Smith). Agent J realizes that he must travel back in time to prevent Boris the Animal from killing his partner.

While I would hesitate to call director Barry Sonnenfeld talented, he certainly has the ability to create fun, goofy films and Men in Black 3 is no exception. It has the energy of a live action cartoon and its fast paced tone will almost always keep viewers interested. Despite a brief lull in the plot that occurs at the start of the final act, the 106 minute runtime goes by fairly quickly.

After weeks of hearing rumors of the script being rewritten in the middle of filming, it is no surprise that the writing is the weakest portion of the film. This can be plainly seen in a headache inducing opening scene in which all of the characters spout out awful dialogue and speak in ridiculously bad clichés. The writing gets a bit better after this, but it is never able to fully pull itself out of the gutter. Most of the humor feels like it was written to please children, which it is able to succeed at. The children in the audience were laughing hysterically. Save for a fairly humorous scene involving Andy Warhol, I was not.

Will Smith is such an engaging performer that he is able to elicit laughs even when the script is not funny. His performance as Agent J has hardly changed from film to film, but I don’t have a problem with that. His comedic energy fits perfectly with the style of Barry Sonnenfeld. Tommy Lee Jones receives less screen time than he did in the previous installments, which is good because his role of the hardened senior agent was becoming tired. Instead of the older version of Agent K, we get to spend time with a younger version of the character, played by Josh Brolin. Brolin does a fantastic job of playing a younger Tommy Lee Jones. Everything from his voice to his mannerisms makes him completely believable as a version of Agent K who is forty years younger.

Men in Black 2 was criticized for having a plot that was too similar to the original Men in Black. We will not be hearing that complaint this time because the addition of time travel is a nice approach at keeping an aging franchise fresh. It may not always look great (at times, the visual effects are downright awful), but Sonnenfeld knows how to make a film that is fast paced and enjoyable. Audiences will surely enjoy the time that the spent watching the movie, but it will be out of their minds soon after they leave the theater. Men in Black 3 is a fairly weak film, but it is a fun diversion for anyone who is bored in the middle of a long, hot summer. Just be prepared to have a craving for chocolate milk afterwards.

Men in Black 3 receives 2/4 

After being the number one movie for three weeks in a row, The Avengers had to finally settle for second place. MIB 3 was the highest earning film this weekend with an estimated $55 million. This may not be a great start for the film, but it is a fairly solid debut and it is Will Smith’s third highest opening weekend ever. The attendance for the film was below that of MIB 2, but the sale of 3D tickets was able to bring it’s three day revenue slightly higher than it’s predecessor.

On it’s fourth weekend, The Avengers fell 34% to earn $37 million. This is one of the highest fourth weekends ever, second only to Avatar. On Saturday, the movie crossed the $500 million mark bringing it’s domestic total to $513.7 million. In the coming week, it is expected to pass The Dark Knight to make it the third highest grossing film domestically of all time.

Chernobyl Diaries opened to an awful $8 million, which is well below the Paranormal Activity series started by Oren Peli. This is also well below other recent horror films Cabin in the Woods ($14.7 million) and The Woman in Black ($20.8 million).

Moonrise Kingdom opened to an estimated $509,000. This may not seem impressive, but it is an astounding opening for a film that only played in four theaters. This gives it a per theater average of $127,250, breaking a previous record set by Dreamgirls for per theater average for a live action film. Because of this great opening, it is expected that the film will expand to a nationwide release in the coming weeks.

  1. MIB 3 – $55 million
  2. The Avengers – $37 million
  3. Battleship – $10.8 million
  4. The Dictator – $9.6 million
  5. Chernobyl Diaries – $8 million
  6. Dark Shadows – $7.5 million
  7. What to Expect When You’re Expecting – $7.1 million
  8. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – $6.3 million
  9. The Hunger Games – $2.7 million
  10. Think Like a Man – $1.4 million

After being on top of the box office for three weeks in a row, it appears that The Avengers will be knocked down to the number two slot this weekend, as MIB 3 is expected to make the most money in the coming days. The Sci-Fi comedy stars Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin and industry analysts are predicting an opening of around$80 million. This is Will Smith’s first film in nearly four years, but he is still one of the biggest stars on the planet, so MIB 3 is expected to make quite a bit of money. The only thing holding the film back is that MIB 2 is often considered a major letdown from the original. Reviews for the third film have been more positive, but it will be interesting to see how many people actually turn up to see it this weekend.

Also getting a wide release is the horror film Chernobyl Diaries. It is produced by Oren Peli, the man who directed Paranormal Activity. Those films have all grossed over $80 million, but Chernobyl Diaries will probably not fair quite as well. The advertising has done a poor job of stating what the villain of the movie is and it is also difficult to tell whether the film is found footage or not. It’s opening at 2,433 theaters, but it will likely end up being a box office disappointment.

Also opening in limited release (and by limited I mean a measly four theaters) is Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. This film was a hit at the Cannes film festival and it has received overwhelmingly positive reviews ever since. Anderson has a loyal fanbase, so it is expected that this film will be expanding in the coming weeks.

  • MIB 3
  • Chernobyl Diaries
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Expanding to wide release)
  • Moonrise Kingdom (Limited)
  • The Intouchables (Limited)
  • OC87 (Limited)
  • Arjun: The Warrior Prince (Limited)