Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
PG-13 / 120 min
Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi
Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman
Director: Roland Emmerich
It’s been twenty years since the aliens attacked the earth in Independence Day: Resurgence. The fabled attack, which put humankind in jeopardy, took place on the United States’ Independence Day, an attack which gave America more than just fireworks. Fast forward twenty years later and the aliens have come back, conveniently on the Fourth of July, to mount an invasion much bigger than the first rodeo. With the absence of Will Smith and the presence of many issues, Resurgence doesn’t amount to anything more than a major letdown when stacked up to its predecessor.
I don’t think it’s fair to say that Resurgence would have been a better movie with Will Smith, but his absence left the cast feeling a tad bit emptier. There are some returning actors that reprise their roles, like Jeff Goldblum as David Levinson, Bill Pullman as President Whitmore, Judd Hirsch as Julius Levinson, Brent Spiner as Dr. Brackish Okun, and more. Unfortunately, most of the screen time is dedicated to the new cast of characters, who are generally boring and not very interesting. Liam Hemsworth plays the young hotshot Jake Morrison while Jessie T. Usher plays Dylan Hiller, the son of Will Smith’s character. There’s some others, but frankly I just didn’t care about them. Maybe the one exception to boring new ensemble is President Whitmore’s daughter, Patricia Whitmore, who is played by Maika Monroe. She has some great moments throughout the film that outshine anything that Hemsworth or Usher bring to the table.
A second coming of this deadly alien species is no laughing matter. They essentially blindside the nations of the world, causing mass destruction and hysteria around the world. The stakes are high as this is no laughing matter. This is what made me question the film’s overall tone, which came off as, well…goofy. There was an unhealthy layer of cheese that was splashed over every single aspect of the movie. Characters were delivering punchlines and groan-worthy one-liners left and right. I get that this is a summer blockbuster and that most people show up for the action, but c’mon, we deserved a little more. The writing is laughable with many a plot-hole to be found amidst the rubble. It’s one big cheesy mess that stumbles all the way to the finish line.
Another aspect that doesn’t do the film any favors is the plethora of characters that all vie for screen time, both old and new. As I mentioned before, the returning characters seem to get overshadowed by the new. This is surprising given the amount of odes and references to the original movie. To be honest, I would have much preferred having a movie devoid of any of the new characters. I was a little disappointed in the ample usage of guys like Goldblum, Pullman, and Spiner. These characters had their moments, which make up most of the movies most solid pieces, but I just wanted an experience with more of these characters. Sure, some of the new characters are integral to the story’s main plot, but if it were me, I would have written them entirely out of the plot, with no offense to any of their acting skills. The writing and the characterizations were the problem.
Despite everything I have laid out so far, it’s hard to deny the fact that this movie’s biggest draw is it’s set-piece moments and its grand scope. With a Roland Emmerich film, you should know what you’re getting at the door. The movie’s visual destruction is one of its few redeeming qualities. Destruction of areas like downtown London make for some eye-popping visuals full of bleak wonderment. A lot of the fight scenes that take place in the air can get messy a times but there’s usually never a dull moment, visually.
Just because something is bigger and more epic, doesn’t mean it is always better. Independence Resurgence is a perfect example of this sentiment. The marketing campaign behind the movie pushes the movie as a grand epic of destructive proportion. The movie’s scale overpowers the original film, sure, but in terms of quality…this is about as bargain bin as it gets. The movie is a visual treat and had its sparse moments, but everything else about the movie is as gross as the sloppy goo that spurts out of a dead alien carcass. You welcome for that visual.