Critics Consensus

Independence Day: Resurgence Is More of the Same

Plus, Free State of Jones is well-meaning but uneven; The Shallows is nail-bitingly tense; and The Neon Demon is striking but shallow.

by | June 23, 2016 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a war of the worlds (Independence Day: Resurgence, starring Liam Hemsworth and Jeff Goldblum), an armed revolt (Free State of Jones, starring Matthew McConaughey and Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a shark attack (The Shallows, starring Blake Lively and Oscar Jaenada), and the cutthroat world of fashion (The Neon Demon, starring Elle Fanning and Christina Hendricks). What do the critics have to say?

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) 29%

Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day was a lethally effective blast of sci-fi alien invasion thrills that redefined the summer blockbuster while launching Will Smith into full-on leading man status — and whetting its director’s appetite for decades of large-scale, CGI-enhanced cinematic destruction. He’s taken his time getting around to a sequel, but unfortunately, most reviews say the 20 years between chapters hasn’t done much in terms of seasoning the story; for better and for worse, Independence Day: Resurgence offers a straightforward second helping, and delivers essentially the same senses-rattling experience the director’s devotees have come to expect. It’s disappointing for those who wondered whether the passage of time (and the absence of Smith’s character) might add some genuine poignancy to the proceedings, but the critics are clear. If it’s alien invaders and global mayhem you’re after at the theater this weekend, Independence Day: Resurgence is clearly your best bet — just don’t expect more than high-energy spectacle

Free State of Jones (2016) 47%

Writer-director Gary Ross has delivered a number of distinctive, critically lauded hits over the years, and his latest effort, Free State of Jones, seemed like a safe bet for another: with a fact-based storyline promising epic Civil War action and a cast list that included Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, and Keri Russell, it beckoned on the release schedule as an oasis from the usual summer fare. Alas, critics say that while Jones clearly has its heart in the right place, the end result is a surprising misfire that reduces real-life southern secessionist Newt Knight to a line item in a well-meaning lecture. It’s a story worth telling, and all the ingredients are there, but the reviews warn against entering this Free State.

The Shallows (2016) 79%

The Shallows stars Blake Lively as Nancy, a perky surfer who happens to be testing the waves at a secluded beach just as a hungry great white shark comes cruising by. It’s the type of setup that’s been used for many a bikini-clad ocean frightfest, often with less than compelling results — but the critics say this entry proves a happy exception to the genre rule, with tightly coiled thrills to match Lively’s strong central performance. The Shallows isn’t necessarily thought-provoking stuff, but as our British friends like to say, it does exactly what it says on the tin; if you’re in the mood to scream in the dark with strangers this weekend, check your local listings and proceed accordingly.

The Neon Demon (2016) 59%

Like Zack Snyder without the yen for comic book adaptations, Nicolas Winding Refn has a singular eye for composition and detail — and a growing reputation for too rarely putting that gift to good use. The Neon Demon adds another chapter to Refn’s frustrating story, with critics lining up to praise its hauntingly vivid imagery while pointing out that it’s also a narrative mess. Elle Fanning stars as Jesse, an aspiring model who moves to L.A. and finds herself in a viper’s nest of bad behavior — but what exactly Refn’s trying to accomplish with her story is lost in a swirl of beautiful yet ultimately inscrutable style. Hardcore fans may find watching Demon worth the effort; for the rest of us, re-watching Drive might be a better investment.

What’s New on TV

Greenleaf: Season 1 (2016) 81%

Immersed in a unique megachurch setting, Greenleaf is a juicy family soap bolstered by a provocative spirituality.

American Gothic: Season 1 (2016) 58%

American Gothic may not be striving for much, yet it holds promise as a soapy, campy family murder-mystery that’s ultimately just engaging enough.

Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) , starring Sam Neill and Julian Dennison in a Certified Fresh dramedy about a 13-year-old and his curmudgeonly uncle who are forced to flee the authorities and hide out in the woods, is at 100 percent.
  • Nuts! (2016) , a documentary/animation hybrid about a Kansas doctor who claimed to have created a bizarre cure for male impotence, is at 100 percent.
  • Eat That Question: Frank Zappa in His Own Words (2016) , a documentary about the life and career of the virtuoso guitarist and celebrated non-conformist, is at 100 percent.
  • Breaking A Monster (2016) , a documentary about a preteen metal band and the viral fame that earned them a gig opening for Metallica, is at 100 percent.
  • T-Rex (2016) , T-Rex, a a documentary about a teenage Olympic boxing hopeful, is at 100 percent.
  • The Phenom (2016) , starring Johnny Simmons and Ethan Hawke in a drama about a pitching prospect with a troubled family life, is at 89 percent.
  • River (2016) , starring Rossif Sutherland as an American volunteer surgeon in Laos who stumbles into some very dark corners of the country, is at 88 percent.
  • Les Cowboys (2016) , a French Western starring François Damiens as a man consumed by a quest to find his missing daughter, is at 79 percent.
  • Wiener-Dog (2016) , a Todd Solondz ensemble comedy that connects four stories through the presence of its titular canine, is at 69 percent.
  • Swiss Army Man (2016) , starring Paul Dano as a shipwrecked man and Daniel Radcliffe as the gassy all-purpose corpse who might be his ticket back to civilization, is at 65 percent.

Tag Cloud

Chernobyl sequel YouTube finale DirecTV ESPN 71st Emmy Awards First Look Pop hist toy story revenge Nickelodeon natural history facebook dogs elevated horror Drama Photos Marvel SDCC Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Nominations teaser Showtime HBO south america Fantasy directors Television Academy Classic Film comiccon FX sports nature boxoffice Pirates werewolf Writers Guild of America See It Skip It LGBTQ Amazon Prime Video spinoff TBS Travel Channel Amazon Studios rotten movies we love universal monsters The Walking Dead Superheroes scary movies MTV blaxploitation Trophy Talk Comedy Netflix Christmas movies golden globes New York Comic Con festivals CNN Tomatazos Rom-Com dramedy social media Grammys Extras Sundance Infographic Ellie Kemper CBS Hallmark Christmas movies strong female leads Spring TV period drama Logo television adventure Warner Bros. Ovation breaking bad Fox News Calendar Crackle HBO Max joker dc psycho National Geographic Podcast comic CMT Apple TV+ sitcom TIFF Marathons Teen romance The Witch zombies Star Wars Tubi Video Games Ghostbusters comics Pet Sematary Rocketman discovery Pop TV Disney Channel Character Guide blockbuster free movies Tumblr Funimation reviews Holidays justice league crime thriller Reality TCA 2017 Arrowverse IFC Films game show science fiction mockumentary Endgame Emmys Election richard e. Grant harry potter CBS All Access doctor who El Rey Amazon spanish language psychological thriller Mary Poppins Returns TCA Winter 2020 VICE A&E Pixar Biopics tv talk cooking Western Binge Guide historical drama Freeform BBC America TNT book ABC Family Trivia cops Sundance Now MCU President 2018 Marvel Television movies USA Anna Paquin VH1 Thanksgiving Stephen King Dark Horse Comics based on movie Bravo Awards serial killer Mystery true crime TLC indie diversity ABC GIFs romantic comedy Film Festival Disney+ Disney Plus Columbia Pictures anime OWN war Syfy Mindy Kaling Martial Arts 2020 Paramount TruTV TCM reboot foreign TCA E3 Shondaland Super Bowl supernatural casting FX on Hulu Rocky space latino Sneak Peek NBC Avengers Black History Month Action quibi Epix Women's History Month Holiday LGBT DC streaming service DC Comics Mary poppins Musical screenings Mudbound 24 frames 2016 The CW Disney movie franchise dragons Christmas Watching Series zombie what to watch cars American Society of Cinematographers Cannes Elton John Reality Competition First Reviews Film transformers Apple versus Baby Yoda Esquire Amazon Prime police drama Brie Larson batman spy thriller Set visit ratings Premiere Dates Vudu FXX Animation Sci-Fi Walt Disney Pictures halloween politics Tarantino unscripted screen actors guild YouTube Red renewed TV shows Heroines Comic Book Marvel Studios political drama PaleyFest binge singing competition Masterpiece spain disaster Crunchyroll OneApp Cartoon Network crossover TV Land SXSW Interview BET Music Horror aliens Food Network dceu DC Universe BBC FOX Academy Awards miniseries Toys Lifetime Christmas movies GoT 2015 Oscars Sundance TV The Arrangement Summer name the review Star Trek adaptation Disney Plus video MSNBC RT History docudrama cancelled TV shows Emmy Nominations ghosts GLAAD anthology A24 21st Century Fox documentary Spectrum Originals thriller Quiz cults Kids & Family talk show Valentine's Day game of thrones series Polls and Games vampires biography X-Men Family Rock Turner Classic Movies Black Mirror cancelled television stand-up comedy theme song Britbox Chilling Adventures of Sabrina WGN Acorn TV Box Office streaming crime APB CW Seed SundanceTV Winners Superheroe Sony Pictures TV robots Peacock Comics on TV Awards Tour Paramount Network Year in Review Country Mary Tyler Moore Trailer Lucasfilm Lifetime RT21 zero dark thirty award winner ITV 20th Century Fox NYCC 007 cancelled TV series green book Comedy Central cats 2017 cinemax Hallmark Creative Arts Emmys medical drama Hulu travel IFC jamie lee curtis animated Best and Worst YouTube Premium Schedule Lionsgate sag awards witnail canceled TV shows USA Network Countdown slashers YA WarnerMedia 45 composers Song of Ice and Fire Opinion mutant TV renewals AMC Certified Fresh PBS Disney streaming service kids Pride Month crime drama spider-man E! Apple TV Plus History DGA Fall TV San Diego Comic-Con canceled Turner The Purge Nat Geo Netflix hispanic Discovery Channel Spike Captain marvel Starz children's TV Cosplay cartoon Red Carpet Universal christmas movies independent 2019 Shudder Musicals Winter TV Adult Swim cancelled technology