Review of Independence Day: Resurgence

I was fortunate enough to relive a great part of my childhood tonight.  My friend John and I went to Wildwood, NJ together for a week when I was in middle school, and while there, we saw Independence Day.  Tonight, I was able to see the original ID4 before the new Independence Day: Resurgence.  The original still “wows” on the big screen, and I was entertained, no matter how may times I’ve watched it (very many).

On to the new one, which started with modern movie house issues.  There was a problem with the digital file that the projector uses, so those of us who paid for the double feature had to change theaters, and would be watching it in 2D instead of 3D.  They gave us a free movie ticket for the trouble, so no harm, no foul.  Then, they had trouble downloading the 2D file into the projector, so we lost the previews, and the movie started 25 minutes late.  We finally got it started.

The movie had brought some nostalgia, with much of the original cast reprising their roles from the 1996 classic, including Robert Loggia who returned as General Grey in a non-speaking role.  Loggia passed away in December.  Other than that, the movie was quite weak.  It wasn’t a compelling story like the original.  It was very much force fed, including characters presumed dead returning, little development of new characters, and the plot seemed to have one intention, get to a third installment.  If you loved the first, it won’t hurt to go see it, but you won’t miss too much if you wait for digital or disc release.

Part 2:

I did not include this in the main review, because this criticism may be a result of a technical problem at the theater, and not the movie itself.  Throughout the entire movie, I couldn’t help but think that it looked too clear, too pristine, too fake.  It reminded me of a bad made for TV movie on the SciFi Channel.  I’m a purist, and I miss the grain and artifact that comes with film projection, but it was beyond obvious this movie was filmed and presented 100% digitally.  I’ve seen other movies done this way, and it is detrimental to movies heavy with special effects.  After watching the original prior to the new one, which was recorded on film and converted to digital projection for the special 2-for-1, I thought the effects were more realistic and convincing in the original.  You may have heard of the “soap opera effect” if you have a TV which has a 120hz refresh rate.  It’s great if you’re watching a live show or sports program which is shown at 30 or 60 frames-per-second, but if you watch a show or movie recorded at 24FPS, at 120hz, it looks like a soap opera.  That’s how I felt the entire time during this movie, either the frame rate or refresh rate was too high, and significantly hurt its watch-ability.  I’m not sure if it was a projector/file issue, or maybe recording for 3D has something to do with it, but if that’s how it was intended to look, it’s not good.

Orlando: A Commentary

News broke about a potential situation at an Orlando nightclub just after I fell asleep in the early morning hours of Sunday morning.  I awoke to hear the early estimates of 20 fatalities, and we all heard later it was many more.  These events are becoming too common, too expected, and too normal.

50 people dead.  50.  A small number when you consider 323,730,000 people live in the United States.  By now, the vast majority of those 323,730,000 heard about the 50 we lost in that place.  It’s been on local news most of the day, and on the national cable networks for almost 24 hours straight.  It was a focus on the Tony Awards, and was brought up in countless gatherings of all types in their pre-scheduled programs.  As people living in this world, most of us can’t help but feel something for all the people impacted by the ripples created by it.  We put ourselves in their shoes, albeit momentarily, and contemplate what they must be going through, and feel thankful it’s something we are only experiencing through screens.

Then something awful happens.

Outside the impacted community, the focus shifts.  We’re no longer thinking about those people anymore.  We become selfish, the thinking turns inward, and we must broadcast our solutions to anybody who will listen.  Facebook & Twitter turned into a landfill of blame, then discussion, and eventually arguing.

I’ve always heard, there are two things you don’t talk about publicly, religion and politics, and both became the focus shortly after the news broke this morning.  It didn’t take long, and I started seeing posts blaming guns, religion, democrats, republicans, Islam, Muslims, homosexuality, and God.  The first reply or comment is always from someone who disagrees, then comes the third person disagreeing with the comment, and so on and so on.

Guilty.  I found myself commenting on one of these posts.  Religion and politics are difficult, because it is largely impossible to discuss them with someone with an opposing view and end up on some common ground.  I quickly regretted offering my opinion, and deleted the comment.  It’s not worth getting heated about when I am a bystander, watching from afar, thankful it wasn’t me or one of my loved ones.

Then again, isn’t it?  Aren’t I an American?  Aren’t those my countrymen and women?  Most importantly, aren’t I human?  Yes.  We should all be heated, and angry, but not at guns, religion, democrats, republicans, Islam, Muslims, homosexuality, or God.  We should be angry that humans have not evolved to the point that every single individual has hardwired in their brain that killing other humans is wrong.  Long before Jesus of Nazareth, Muhammad, the invention of the firearm, and the rise of Democratic and Republican parties, humans were murdering each other.  That hasn’t changed.

What has changed?  The world has gotten smaller.  We are a phone call, a mouse click, or the tap on a LCD screen away from interacting with people from just about any part of the world.  We have a worldwide network of information distribution, where the awful actions of one person propels them to celebrity-like status within hours.

Consider that.  If the Orlando shooter really believed he was acting on behalf of ISIS, which the evidence is pointing to, would this shooting have happened if he didn’t have easy access to their agenda and related materials?  Would this have happened if he didn’t think his actions would be seen and celebrated by the people associated with that terrorist organization?  Maybe, but maybe not.  Maybe our own creations are leading to our overall demise through the easy spread of hatred.

This is not a child’s birthday party.  We should not be devoting our time holding our opinions in our hands, blindfolded so we can’t see the world, and trying to pin the blame on a donkey.  These events should be blamed on hatred, and the only thing that can overcome that is love.  I know that’s cliche, but it’s true.  There is no way to eradicate murder from this world.  The elimination of guns, religion, or even terrorist groups won’t stop it.

Hatred is a disease, and it spreads like a wildfire.  One man felt so much hatred, he gunned down over 100 people on a Sunday morning.  After that, millions of people were publicly pronouncing their hatred for various things that they believe is the root cause.

The gunman won.  Not because of the 50 people lying dead on a nightclub floor, but because of the hatred he created, both towards him, and the hatred we spewed towards each other.  The battle was short, and we lost, and I’m guilty of firing a shot.

When this happens again, and it will, I’m going to try my damndest to remove myself from the cycle.  I will place my feet in the shoes of someone directly impacted, and leave them on for as long as possible.  I will not allow myself to be sucked in to the cycle of publicly placing blame or harboring hatred.  I will only feel empathy and gratitude, and leave the political and religious debates for another day.

We don’t have to like each other, but we have to love one another. Singer/songwriter Jason Isbell may have said it best during his set at the Bonnaroo Festival yesterday, so I will leave you with his words:

The only thing I know to say to you is have faith.  I think we’re all good people out here. I think we’ve got the brains and the heart that it takes to figure it out, to put a stop to this kind of bullshit and learn to live peacefully together. But the trick is compassion and empathy. That’s the only thing that I’ve learned. – Jason Isbell