Independence Day | Loki, Episode 4, "The Nexus Event"
We are not alone.
MOVIE REVIEW /// Independence Day
Movie summary: The aliens are coming and their goal is to invade and destroy Earth. Fighting superior technology, mankind's best weapon is the will to survive. (IMDb)
I was slightly concerned that I'd be wasting my time watching Independence Day again, remembering it as being corny, cheesy and very difficult to take seriously. As it turns out, all those things are true, but don't really detract from a movie that isn't trying to be any more than that. This is a big-budget, effects-filled blockbuster that is only trying to entertain and not be anything more than a fun way to spend a couple of hours.
One of my regular criticisms of a lot of more recent movies is that a number of characters feel like written characters and not people who'd make the decisions they'd do. This is a fault in those movies because they want you to take the character and the events of the movie seriously, while still this artificial, plot-driven behaviour that don't fit quite right.
Independence Day has no such pretensions, being filled with actors like Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum and more bringing larger than life characters to life in as bombastic a fashion as they can manage - there's no real effort to make them realistic, only to ensure that they fit into the reality of the movie's world. These characters behave consistently as if they belong in this version of our world and, and as a result, never trigger any 'uncanny valley' of behaviour.
The plot is fairly simple, with aliens showing up and reducing large portions of the Earth to smoke and ruins before the inevitable fightback, but one thing struck me about the initial attack: I don't think you'd see that level of destruction and loss of life in a blockbuster movie anymore. The effects work is still great to see, but I'd forgotten just how extensive the damage was.
I think the reason for this is fairly simple: I don't think Independence Day was ever intended as a franchise, despite the recent sequel. The director was free to annihilate entire cities because there was never any need to worry about what happened next as long as the immediate stories for the central cast were wrapped up in a satisfying manner, which they are.
This movie exists to be enjoyed and not taken at all seriously - the clichés, dreadful science and plot conveniences/contrivances would be far bigger detractors otherwise. Characters are walking plot devices that feel written, but the actors seem like they're having so much fun that the dialogue doesn't really matter thanks to the conviction of those delivering it.
Independence Day knows what it is and never tries to be more than that, which is what makes it so much fun to watch. Yes, it's dumb and clichéd, but it revels in that, content to keep you entertained until the movie ends and succeeds admirably. Everything and everyone is larger than life, making for truly memorable performances that you don't really see these days - a refreshing lack of pretence.
[8/10 - Very Good]
TV REVIEW /// Loki, Episode 4, "The Nexus Event"
Episode summary: Frayed nerves and paranoia infiltrate the TVA as Mobius and Hunter B-15 search for Loki and Sylvie. (IMDb)
"The Nexus Event" and "Lamentis" have to be two of the most weirdly-paced back-to-back episodes of an TV show, with the latter having very little to do with progressing the plot and this latest episode racing through what feels like a dozen major points in a hurry. Was there no way to better balance things? So many moments in this episode feel like they need time to be absorbed, but we aren't given any.
That might well be intentional on the part of Marvel Studios - trying to keep the audience as off-balance as the characters - but it doesn't make for the most satisfying viewing experience. Maybe they didn't have faith that audiences would accept everything they saw if they had time to stop and think about it - or maybe doing so would allow people to figure out where everything was headed?
Saying that, a big moment near the end of the episode could've been a very surprising way to finish things, but was not only undercut by a mid-credits scene, but said additional scene also took away from the shock of what initially appeared to be another major character's death earlier on in the episode. I get that Marvel Studios make a habit of this, but usually these scenes are for setting up something in the future, not undermining what we've just finished watching.
Considering that the episode starts off with some mixed quality VFX work and ends with a sloppily-choregraphed fistfight, the episode really is a mixed bag on the technical front too. I do have to wonder how much Covid-19 restrictions may have hard a part to play in these though, so it does feel like criticising these more technical aspects could be a little unfair if so.
On the other hand, it was great to have Owen Wilson back as Mobius and his interactions with Tom Hiddleston's Loki again cement them as the core reason this show works. There's also a nice cameo from Jaimie Alexander as Lady Sif - albeit not the real deal, who is apparently going to actually return in Thor: Love and Thunder - in a funny sequence that involves pain for Loki, but fun for the audience.
Wunmi Mosaku also gets a moment to show off her range as Hunter B-15, which was both nice to see as she'd only been a typical 'enforcer' up until now, and also providing an emotional moment that fully justified her actions later on. It's a quick development for this character, but it does feel earned considering the enormity of what she uncovers.
The same can be said for what Mobius finds out about the TVA and Ravonna - for someone so committed to the cause, it's nice to see Wilson get across his character's intelligence and acceptance that he was wrong in his beliefs and willingness to set things right, much like Captain Marvel did for the Skrulls at the end of her movie. He's not a thankful devotee, but not a fanatic, and it'll be interesting to see where his character goes from here.
As for the biggest reveals at the end of the episode? I'm not going to spoil what they are, but they could spell big changes for both this series and the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe. There's a certain time-travelling Conqueror who would relish having an agency dedicated to wiping out variants, especially of themselves - and with the Young Avengers continuing to be seeded in these shows, I'm fully expecting them to appear in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania along with him.
"The Nexus Event" gets Loki back on track somewhat, although it does feel a little strange with what should be huge moments and/or reveals quickly glossed over to get to the next one considering the slow pace of the previous episode - some poor VFX work and even worse fight choreography not helping matters either. Still, at least the episode sets up what should prove to be an interesting final third to the season.