THE STORY – As the Fourth of July nears, satellite engineer David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) investigates a 3,000-mile-wide mother ship that’s approaching Earth. Fortunately, 20 years earlier, nations across the world started to use recovered extraterrestrial technology to develop an immense defense program. When the alien invaders attack with unprecedented force, the U.S. president, teams of scientists and brave fighter pilots spring into action to save the planet from a seemingly invincible enemy.
THE CAST – Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Jessie T. Usher, Travis Tope, William Fichtner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner & Sela Ward
THE TEAM – Roland Emmerich (Director/Writer), Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin, James Vanderbilt (Writers)
THE RUNNING TIME – 120 Minutes
By Matt N.
When “Independence Day” was released in 1996 it was hailed for its outstanding visual effects and blockbuster nature for worldwide destruction mixed in with some good laughs from its charming cast headed by a young Will Smith. Now, here we are 20 years later with “Independence Day: Resurgence” and everything that made the original film passable is completely gone and traded in for more of which that only continues to give a bad name to the Hollywood blockbuster in 2016. Roland Emmerich has never been a subtle director capable of crafting a great film, but he has been able to weave a few entertaining films that dazzle us with their special effects and epic destruction. Here, all of his worst tendencies are dialed up to 11, delivering a sequel that should never have been conceived and received funding.
It’s been 20 years since Earth was violently attacked by Alien invaders. The heroes from that fourth of July weekend always knew they would come back and now a 3000-mile wide mothership has approached Earth looking to do us harm once more. This time around, the Earth was able to increase its defensive strategy by utilizing the Alien technology, but will it be enough? The returning scientist David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), former President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman), current President Elizabeth Lanford (Sela Ward), U.S. General Joshua Adams (William Fichtner), along with a few young pilots in the now deceased Steven Hiller’s son Dylan Dubrow-Hiller (Jessie Usher), Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) and his fiancee (Ex pilot and now fully grown daughter to President Whitmore) Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe), must all work together to exterminate the new threat to mankind.
What made the first “Independence Day” film so great was its first half an hour. That beginning part of the film where the alien invaders first make contact and how everyone reacted to the worldwide event helped to build tension and sympathy for the characters caught up in the all too real event of an alien invasion. In “Independence Day: Resurgence,” all of those realistic qualities are vanquished as we are thrust into a changed planet Earth, strengthened by the alien’s own technology to withstand a second attack, but devoid of any emotional attachments we may have had to the characters in the first film. Some of those characters do indeed return such as David Levinson, his father Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch, playing a shell of his former self), Brent Spiner as Dr. Okun (Who has mysteriously been in a coma for 20 years since the event of the first film, despite appearing to have been killed off with a snapped neck) and the now former President, Thomas J. Whitmore. However, the one glaring miss is Will Smith as Steven Hiller who provided the first film with a humorous spark and energy that not a single person in the existing cast can provide. Oh and that new cast? Sure, they look pretty. But not a single person can match up to the characters in the first film in their believability and characterization. So while the older cast will draw most fans of the first film back to the cinemas, sadly the way in which the terrible screenplay decides to utilize them is nonsensical and humiliating to everyone involved. One must ask the following questions when watching “Independence Day: Resurgence”: Why is Whitmore giving another speech that can’t match the quality of the first? Why is Dr. Okun being made to look like a crazy fool instead of a lovable nerd? Why is Jeff Goldblum driving a school bus of children in the film’s final act exactly?
And while I can’t begin to count how many of the film’s dramatic moments seemed so unearned and offensive (To some), most people are going to see this film for the action. Unfortunately, “Independence Day: Resurgence” fails in this department as well. Roland Emmerich has blown up the earth, terrorized Manhattan, laid waste to countless cities and here he is, bringing out his same bag of tricks again to disappointing results. The special effects are not winning any Academy Awards this time around, as they break no new ground and the scale never feels as grim to our heroes as it did in the first film. Even the aerial battles, which were such a selling point in “Independence Day,” fall flat due to the difficult nature of having to tell the difference between the good guys and the aliens now that they are both using alien technology. There is a sense that Roland Emmerich is holding back and it suddenly becomes desperately apparent when the ending to this unwanted sequel blatantly sets up another film to come in the future.
“Independence Day: Resurgence” is a failure on all levels narratively and creatively. While the first film was no masterpiece either, it still managed to become one of the most successful original blockbuster properties out there due to its silly, yet human characters and dazzling special effects. The sequel trades in its old cast for a new one that is just as lifeless as the film’s unbelievably boring screenplay and sets the bar extremely low for any other blockbuster sequel we are set to receive for the rest of the year.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Nothing
THE BAD – Resting on the laurels of a successful film 20 years too late with an overthought plot sorely lacking Will Smith and any ounce of intelligence
THE OSCARS – None
THE FINAL SCORE – 1/10