With the original Independence Day from 1996, the bar was set pretty low in regards to improving the depiction of women. Thinking back, there was basically Viveca A. Fox’s “Jasmine Dubrow”, a professional stripper, whose main job was saving her kid. Basically, the familiar role of mothering her child, care taking others, and marrying Will Smith. Again the movie left ample room for improvement.
I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into with Independence Day: Resurgence. The reviews haven’t been particularly kind and it wasn’t opening over the 4th of July. I went in wanting to like it, but in the opening minutes I was challenged. There is a lot of bouncing around between characters in a poor attempt to flesh some out more with backstory. But when the aliens show up the movie switches to, “Ok, here we go! We’re back in the 90’s! But improved cause women are getting to play shoot em’ up too.” I found myself smiling, laughing and leaning toward the screen.
The representation of women is still low, but it’s better than the first film. For example, during the president’s speech in the first movie the camera cuts to all the pilots about to get into the fight, and they’re all men. In Resurgence we’ve got two women pilots who are treated as peers while working. They’re romantic interests too, and that execution is hit and miss. But, for pilots they’re appropriately attired for the duties they are to perform. One of them also ends up finding herself in the right place at the right time to make a tide shifting difference in the course of the fight.
We’ve also got a depiction of a female president, who is a fighter and brave until the end. Thankfully the writers didn’t treat her character in any stereotypical ways. The decisions she makes will not come as a surprise to any viewers of other movies in this genre. That she is a woman doesn’t factor in. She just has a job to do.
As for the movie as a whole, it’s Independence Day; it doesn’t have a lot to say. However, it does have a strong message of unity among humanity, and seeing that on the screen (in contrast to our less harmonious reality) was wonderful. I found the action pretty easy to follow too, save for one or two strange edits, which was a welcome change from many of the fights in superhero movies of late. I hesitate to call it a simpler movie cause that sounds like a put down, but that is exactly what it was, and that’s one reason why I enjoyed it so much. It was just we’re going to fight and we’re going to find a way to win.
Running down the Her Story Arc scale of Inclusivity, I’ll give it one point for not being offensive to women. The pilots are featured well enough to earn two points for good supporting characters. It doesn’t pass the Bechdel test (losing 3 points), but I found it entertaining enough to come straight home and write this review after midnight so, four points for that. Lastly, it is chock full of stuff we’ve seen before so only seven points in total are awarded to Independence Day: Resurgence.
It’s got flaws, and the ending feels rushed in its sequel setup. I’d see another if they made it, because I sure didn’t find this movie boring or the worst of this summer.
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