Punch Drunk DVDs: 'Independence Day: Resurgence', 'Alice Through the Looking Glass', 'Cafe Society',And More!


Set 20 years after the original sci-fi summer blockbuster, Independence Day: Resurgence takes place in an alternate timeline. The nations of the world have united together, using the technology left behind by the alien attack in the first film to build a advanced, Utopian society. When the aliens return, somehow bigger and more hostile than ever, it’s up to an unlikely team of scientists, soldiers, and politicians to fight them off using everything we’ve learned since they first arrived.

We Said: Independence Day: Resurgence is every bit as fun, every bit as silly, and every bit as destructive as the original.” Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Good: Much like the original Independence Day, this new film is nothing but big, loud, blockbuster fun. As a sequel, it’s actually rather clever, and introduces a lot of interesting ideas about how we’d rebuild after the mass destruction seen in the first Independence Day film. Many of the original cast members return, and continue to totally nail the silly/sincere tone that director Roland Emmerich’s movies typically go for. It’s nostalgic, it’s goofy, it’s exciting, and a lot of the visuals are just as stunning as in the original movie. Resurgence is pure fun.

The Bad: Okay, so this movie is a mess. A fun mess, but still a mess. It’s hard to accept an Independence Day movie without original star Will Smith. They try to make up for him with Liam Hemsworth’s character, but it just doesn’t land as well as the filmmakers would hope. The plot of the movie is also incredibly confusing, and next to impossible to follow. My biggest problem, however, is its awkward shifts in tone. Sometimes it would introduce a new concept, plotpoint or character and it would be actually compelling; but as soon as you start to get into that new idea, the film then shifts back into being a big loud action movie again. Then, once you start enjoying the thoughtless destruction, it shifts back to characters and ideas. Both tones are cool. Resurgence just can’t decide which movie it wants to be more.

Overall: Independence Day: Resurgence is a very fun mess. Exactly the kind of mess you’d want the Independence Day sequel to be. It’s loud, it’s silly, it’s occasionally well thought out, but mostly it’s just a fun time.

In this sequel to Disney’s 2010 live-action remake, Alice once again returns to Wonderland. This time she has to save the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), who has recently become cripplingly depressed. Concerned for her friend’s well being, Alice seeks the aid of The Master of Time (Sacha Baron Cohen)  to travel back through time and right the wrongs that are upsetting the Hatter.

 We Said: “Resembling nothing that author Lewis Carroll ever wrote; Alice Through the Looking Glass is a nonsensical mish-mash of half-baked ideas..” Rating: 1 out of 5

The Good: James Bobbin does a very good job of taking over the franchise from previous director Tim Burton. The visual look of this movie is pretty awesome, particularly the scenes that play with time. On the topic, Sacha Baron Cohen is a lot of fun as the essence of time itself. I’m enjoying the trend of dropping him into little campy bit-parts in movies like Les Mis, Hugo, and now Looking Glass. He’s a pretty consistently entertaining character actor. Alan Rickman also appears briefly in a voice-over role, and just hearing one of his final performances is really something special. The movie has some fun moments here and there, but it’s mostly the visuals that stand out in Through the Looking Glass.

The Bad: The plot of the movie somehow manages to be both paper-thin and overly complex. It uses tired time travel tropes to add a level of unnecessary and unwanted explanation to the absurd characters created by Lewis Carol. Most of the actors also seem very upset about having to do this movie, which just enhances the tired pace the film moves at. Very rarely does Alice ever become anything more than ‘okay’.

Overall: Alice Through the Looking Glass is another disappointing sequel. It looks incredible, but doesn’t have a lot to say. It’s fine, I guess.

Set in 1930’s Hollywood, Woody Allen’s latest dramedy stars Jesse Eisenberg as a young man who falls in love with the secretary (Kristen Stewart) of his casting agent uncle (Steve Carell)

We Said: “[Woody Allen’s] latest, the intriguingly-titled Café Society, is undoubtedly gorgeous in both setting and casting, but it shows a basic filmmaking incompetence that would get any other director drummed out of the business.” Rating: 1 out of 5