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Retrospective review: self-isolation edition

Movies I’ve been watching during this long, long quarantine

Eliot Jamet, Guest Writer
Originally published May 17, 2021

 “Independence Day Resurgence” 

“Independence Day Resurgence” (2016) directed by Roland Emmerich is yet another one of the many reboots and sequels of classic films that most of us do not need. While yes, it is possible someone asked for it, this one goes into the pile of terrible sequels. 

The original movie, released in 1996, was about multiple giant spaceships appearing all over the world with the intent to invade planet earth, and was met with high praise for its stunning visuals, great use of CGI and a memorable cast with Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith as the two leads. 

The 2016 film is set in a futuristic 2016 with advanced technology, including a moon base, and the world is completely at peace after the first alien invasion, with no wars between countries anymore. That is, there are no wars until the aliens come back with an even bigger ship than the last time. 

In short, it’s a retelling of the original without most of the fun. The acting is very stale as the cast doesn’t carry as much weight as the original, most characters are unmemorable and spout out one liners or explanations without any substance or emotion given to them. 

The cinematography is terribly constructed with muted imagery and shaky camera angles. The mother ship landing and the destruction of half the world is visually pleasing, but the rest of the movie is set in various locales that only seem to have two colors of basic grays, and light blue. 

An example to why this is a problem is during the beginning, where we see interactions with the forgettable characters on the moon base with gray and blue hallways as the background and the next scene taking place in a Nevada military base with similar colors.

This fails in the basics of world building as your audience should immediately know where you are without captions, but here the viewer would be confused.Without the text telling you this was Nevada, you would’ve thought it was the moon base and people who would’ve missed that caption would not even know about that. 

To put it simply, the movie is a rehash of the original with boring dialogue and acting, subpar editing and visually unappealing scenery. 

It’s a shame, since this movie was in production for more than a decade (surprisingly). Emmerich couldn’t decide on making it a drama or an action movie, which leaves the audience unfulfilled. 

“Kingsman the secret service”

 Spy movies are quite popular in the UK thanks to James Bond and other TV shows like “The Avengers” (1961). While they are fun to watch, many of them have the same style and stereotypes. 

“Kingsman” was a surprising delight and refreshes the spy genre. This was originally a comic book called “The Secret Service” and while the movie has a few similarities, it has a more unique and fleshed out idea than that of the book. 

The story follows a British street ruffian, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), who gets out of jail thanks to his dad’s coworker Galahad (Colin Firth). He recruits Eggsy to the Kingsman in order to give another chance in life. Eggsy accepts, and goes through a series of tests that will determine who will be the next spy in the group known as the Round Table. Meanwhile, Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), a multi tech billionaire, is under investigation for his new SIM cards with unlimited access to the network and free calls, as this new program seems very suspicious.

  The story’s themes of inheritance and the passing of ages are well executed, and the acting is phenomenal with Jackson playing Valentine, a great villain with debatable motives, or Firth’s witty and gentlemanly nature playing Galahad. 

Calling the cinematography great is an understatement, as the action is well choreographed and flows beautifully with the environment that the characters are in. The best example of this is the church scene with high octane action and fast rock music—Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird”—that goes along with the rhythm of the action.

I highly recommend watching this movie if you haven’t. The cinematography, acting, script and musical score tie all well together to create an amazing spy movie.

“Starship Troopers”

 During this quarantine nothing interesting has occurred aside from me practicing baking and watching new movies to review, however I decided to look back at a movie I rediscovered during this last year. That being the science fiction,  satirical take on the military, “Starship Troopers.”

“Starship Troopers”  is based off of a military science fiction book, the movie shows some similarities to the book but overall has a less serious undertone.

The story of the film is set in the future, where the world fights against an alien bug species who attacks earth. Most of the movie centers around three high school friends who promise to all work in different military space factions and decide to meet up later in the future to see how much they’ve gone through. 

The film is a satire on propaganda and fascism. The movie shows how the charisma and rage of the people on earth are used against the bugs. people blame the bugs for incidents that they were not involved in, and antagonize the bugs with ads to the point where humanity is okay to commit genocide on an entire species.

Neil Patrick Harris’s over the top psychic abilities and Jean Raszack’s tough teacher trope are all perfect renditions of soldiers and generals being overly serious. Overall the casting is top notch for what the characters bring to the table.

The special effects are impressive for 1997 as the aliens look really well animated and detailed with their green blood spewing onto the soldiers. 

The director admitted he tried to read the book but he apparently fell asleep from reading it, and he decided instead to tell a satire on the military and how fascism rises when war is around. Overall it’s a great movie about how war can change us and how there really is not a good or bad side (excluding certain events sadly).

“Food Fight”

“Food Fight” was an animated movie set to be released in 2003  and was  directed by Lawrence Kasanoff. The film finally released in 2012 and had a budget of 65 million dollars. 

This particular movie is interesting as its main cast includes many famous early 2000’s actors such as: Charlie Sheen, Hilary Duff, Larry Miller and Christopher Lloyd. 

Weirdly though, it was reported by the director that the original film was stolen by an unknown party after it was completed, and had to be redone all over again. Instead of redoing the whole project they decided to do the whole film with mish-mashes of the original 3d storyboard making it look like a unity project designed by a freshman high-schooler. 

The story takes place in a supermarket where the mascots of food and cleaning brands come to life. All is peaceful in the store until what’s assumed to be a toxic food company known as Brand X is introduced to poison the store. 

The rules of this food world are not explained properly. Is the food alive during shopping hours? Are they asleep?  It is never explained and leaves the audience question the basic rules of this world.

This movie is incoherent in its faulty editing, terrible pun driven writing and the confusing world it creates. Even if this is supposed to be a kids movie, there at least needs to be some passion and care put into it, they still know what’s good and what’s bad. 

Not to mention, this is some of the worst animation I have seen in a mainstream movie. The animated food mascots characters lifeless. I’m not expecting Disney levels of quality, but even movies from the early to mid 2000’s had more passion  put into them.

 It was said this movie was supposed to have a 3D Looney Tunes aesthetic, but in the end it was as if you were having a fever dream of people waving and dancing around with Mr. Clean in it. And yes, this movie not only makes up fake brand icons but also includes real ones such as Charlie the tuna and the California Raisins. 

What’s more is that these brands have no major roles in the film, and just end up being cameos or as I’d like to state, product placements.

The cinematography of this film is quite simple; it’s the equivalent of a child discovering zoom in and out buttons for the first time. 

Overall this movie is simply just an advertisement with no thought in the script, a famous actor telling you to buy it, a product you’ll use once and never use again. This is the most boring and terribly animated movie I have ever seen.

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Retrospective review: self-isolation edition