Possible spoilers ahead!
“Independence Day: Resurgence” takes place twenty years since the events of the first “Independence Day” movie. In case you didn’t know that, do not worry, because for the first several minutes of the sequel, the cast repeatedly says its been twenty years since the original movie.
Since then, humanity has been preparing for the inevitable return of the extra-terrestrial race that nearly decimated our world and made Will Smith a movie star. Nations around the world united after their brush with annihilation, have worked together as one to rebuild what was lost – and establish agencies to plan for future attacks.
The most important agency is the Earth Space Defense program, and serving as its director is everyone’s favorite cable technician-turned world-saving computer hacker, David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum). With Levinson’s help, the world has used technology from crashed alien ships to develop new weapons, detection systems, and other defensive measures for protecting Earth from outside threats.
Now, as an even larger alien armada arrives with sights set firmly on harvesting Earth’s resources, the Earth Space Defense program may be the planet’s only hope. Old allies, such as former U.S. President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman) and a new generation of young fighter pilots, including the late Captain Steven Hiller’s step-son (Jessie Usher), all brace for war with the alien threat.
Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich’s “Independence Day” remains one of the biggest summer films of the 1990s, thanks to a blend of big budget special effects, a clever sci-fi story, as well as an entertaining ensemble cast – including a young Will Smith. Interest in a followup remained high among fans for years, so its surprising it took 20th Century Fox, and Roland Emmerich this long to make one.
As a fan of ID4, I was looking forward to the sequel as well, but sadly, “Independence Day: Resurgence,” is about seventeen years too late. This bloated CGI fest of a movie offers little, aside from a few familiar characters. The concept of humanity spending two decades combining alien tech with our own, and fighting small bands of surviving aliens is an interesting starting point, and frankly would have made for a better sequel. Yet, very little come of this, and the good ideas are never truly developes.
Resurgence is nothing more than a shallow attempt at recreating what worked in ID4. This time though, with bigger explosions and wider alien ships. In trying to expand the ID4 mythology, Roland Emmerich gets lost in his own head. in the original “Independence Day” Emmerich took his time unfolding his alien mystery and developing his large cast of characters, as well as the stakes, so that every sacrifice the characters made, was impactful to the overall plot.
In the sequel, some of the heroes we enjoyed in 1996 are turned into cartoonish shells of what they used to be, and then they’re swallowed-up in the CGI mayhem without us caring what happens to them. This is probably why the film’s emotional and action climax fell completely flat with the audience I saw the movie with.
The only good things in IDR are Jeff Goldblum, his dad (Judd Hirsch), and maybe Bill Pullman’s daughter, but that’s a big maybe. Other than them, nothing else worked for me in the sequel. Not the characters, not the plot, and not even the action which was one of ID4’s best things.
The new generation of hot-shot pilots don’t fare much better. They’re lead by newcomer, Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), Rain Lao (Angelababy), and Hiller’s now grown step-son, Dylan (Jessie T. Usher not Ross Bagley). I don’t know who Jessie T. Usher is, but I do feel bad for the guy because I’m guessing he was told what to do
He spends most of the movie playing second fiddle to Liam Hemsworth, even in the action scenes. And when Usher is given solo screen time, he spends it doing a poor man’s imitation of Will Smith. Right down to a carbon copy of Smith’s “Noooooo!” moment from ID4 when someone dies.
Some other players in “Independence Day: Resurgence” are Sela Ward, who really deserves better parts, and Vivica A. Fox who has been promoted from stripper to doctor and is in Resurgence for about three minutes. Even Robert Loggia pops up in one scene, but I think his face was CGId on someone elses body.
And by the way: those are not the only characters in the movie. I left out at least three (probably more) because I couldn’t think of anything to write about them.
At the end of the day, Resurgence has too many characters, and the screenplay doesn’t give many of them anything to do. And when you think you’ve met all the film’s characters, you then meet a car load of random kids and then a bus load of random kids who are basically there so Judd Hirsch has someone to talk to and save.
Watch the original “Independence Day” today, and that movie is still both creepy and exhilarating because it was set in a familiar world. And t was a simple underdog tale of ill-equipped planet fighting back against a faceless and over-powered conquerer.
Not to mention that the first movie had a story and cast you could easily cheer for, while “Independence Day: Resurgence,” has none of that.
“Independence Day: Resurgence” final score: 6