“Independence Day: Resurgence” Movie Review


     So let me get this straight.  In the time that has elapsed between 1996’s “Independence Day” and its sequel we did not ask for, “Independence Day: Resurgence”, the best the five credited screen writers could come up with during that time is a bigger alien ship?  It all starts to become clear less than an hour into this loud and unnecessary mess as to why Will Smith smartly decided to skip this one in favor of other projects.  Director Roland Emmerich, who brought us the original plus a number of other popular disaster flicks such as “The Day After Tomorrow” and “2012”, has nothing better to offer here than a literal super sizing of the first film.  Because of this, “Resurgence” plays more like a reboot, even though some of the characters constantly remind us of the events in the first film, perhaps to ensure we remember this material actually had better days.

     We already know some of the characters.  Bill Pullman returns as now former President Whitmore and he has apparently gone bonkers from the trauma he endured fighting these beasties the last time.  Jeff Goldblum also returns in a lead role as David Levinson, who has been busy the past twenty years developing the alien technology into a viable defense for Earth should they decide to invade us again.  This includes an elaborate satellite system forming a ring around the Earth, as well as a fully operational super weapon staged at a base on the moon.  Because of the highly advanced technology infusion, a trip to the moon takes minutes and can be done at the drop of a hat in a small craft that carries a half dozen or so people.  Rounding out the key returnees is Brent Spiner again playing Dr. Brakish Okun, who has been in a coma since the last attack and suddenly awakens once the aliens arrive for a second crack at our planet.

     We learn early on that Will Smith’s Captain Hiller was tragically killed while test flying one of the new alien enhanced jet fighters and his now grown son, Dylan (Jessie T. Usher) has followed in his footsteps as one of the top pilots in what is a multinational defense force. It’s about this point where Emmerich begins force feeding us a slew of new, younger characters who seem obligatory given the need for a pricy film like this to appeal to both young males and females.  This is accomplished by not only giving us the Hiller character, but also a “Top Gun” like flyer who challenges authority in the form of Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), as well as Whitmore’s now grown daughter, Patricia (Maika Monroe).  None of these new characters add anything meaningful to the proceedings, as they are neither developed or drawn well enough for the audience to care whether they live or die.

     The script is where this catastrophe really suffers most.  The returning characters are stuck regurgitating lines and similar speeches from the original, so as to remind us of their significance then and now.  David’s dad, Julius (Judd Hirsch) is inserted for no apparent reason and his arrival into the center of one of the main battles makes absolutely no sense and if it was intended as a joke or opportunity for another Goldblum one liner accompanied by a contorted face of surprise, than it simply falls flat.  That goes especially for the newcomers as well, who are forced into scenes with little or no back story as if Emmerich is only interested in getting to his action set pieces.

     Those CGI fueled sequences begin with a near re-creation of the original’s climactic scenes and when the filmmakers decide it’s time to unveil something different, it comes in the form of a “Godzilla” like version of the aliens seen in the original.  This, itself, is ironic since Emmerich is also responsible for the god awful 1998 “Godzilla” remake which was not only terrible but also remains one of the biggest financial flops of all time.  Meanwhile, the filmmakers continue to blatantly rip off classic films like “Aliens” with both their alien design as well as the fact the species operates as a hive with a queen in the center of it all.  Most surprising though is the lack of suspense and intensity amongst the characters and the situations they find themselves in.  The pilots, who are clearly in peril as they face a sea of alien spacecraft and bullets, chatter with one another as if all of their attention and reflexes doesn’t need to be focused on the dire situation they are supposedly trying to navigate.  They bark silly lines referencing the need to kick alien ass in what is a clear reminder of the lame dialogue the pilots spoke in “Red Tails” as they descended on Nazi Germany.

     With all that happens, never once do you ever feel as though one of the characters is going to die and when one of them actually does, the character closest to them seems to forget rather quickly in favor of jubilant celebration of their latest alien kill.  And these whiz bang action scenes that seem to be the crown jewel of every Summer tent pole barely measure up to those in the original where each scene was well supported by fun characters who knew better than to take any of this seriously. When the White House was blown to smithereens in the original, it was an iconic and memorable moment.  In this film, Emmerich over does it to the point there is so much destruction you become numb to it. Bottom line, there’s nothing that will wow you in “Resurgence”. The saddest part about all of this is an already announced third installment of which I can only imagine will include a ship large enough to swallow the Earth whole, forcing these poorly written characters to finally give in and find somewhere else to live.  I hear Mars is nice.  GRADE: D-