I remember Independence Day (1996) fondly. Even today, I enjoy watching President Whitmore (Bill Pullman), David Levinson (Uhh…umm…ahh, Jeff Goldblum) and of course Steven Hiller (Will “Welcome to Earth” Smith) save the world from aliens in Roland Emmerich’s summer blockbuster. While it’s far from a perfect movie, Independence Day was FUN.
Independence Day: Resurgence isn’t fun. In fact, it’s boring. It brings nothing new or interesting to the disaster movie genre, deciding to simply rehash the plot of the first film. New characters are added to the mix, but none of them resonate and the returning original cast is misused.
Earth is in danger! A massive alien ship is invading earth and humanity must unite to fight it!
You may think I just described the plot of the first film…no, that’s the plot of Resurgence. While I understand not wanting to mess with a winning formula, the movie simply regurgitates the same plot. It just makes everything bigger.
The Mother Ship invades…and it’s the size of America!!!
Not only that, the ship takes out whole cities by dropping OTHER CITIES on them!!!
There’s a giant Queen Alien the size of a building!!!
While this might be fun to watch for a while, I never got a sense of unease like I did in the first film. Yes, I knew humanity would win in the first film, but I didn’t know how. By keeping so closely to the original, Resurgence is incredibly predictable. Yes, everything’s bigger but the threat is still somewhat the same.
The first film’s characters weren’t the deepest, but you liked them enough to root for their well being. While Goldblum and Pullman return, they are wasted in their roles. Pullman is simply a speech machine trying desperately to recreate that infamous speech from the first movie (And failing). Goldblum plays his character as though someone has played a cruel joke on him and he can barely believe he’s going through the same motions again. His quips are delivered in a wooden way, as though Goldblum is simply waiting for the cue to say them.
And Dear Lord, what the hell is the point of any of Judd Hirsh’s scenes? For that matter why is Doctor Okun (Brent Spiner) back? Comic relief? Wait, all that was supposed to be funny?
And of course, I have to address the elephant in the room. The movie suffers greatly without the movie star charisma of Will Smith. None of the character’s, new and old, have any of Hiller’s confident swagger that made the first film so fun.
Resurgence introduces a slew of new characters, including a new fighter squadron led by the son of Will Smith’s character Dylan (Jessie T. Usher) and Jake (Liam Hemsworth). There are other members of the squadron, including a wise ass sidekick and a sassy female…
…You know what? I got bored just writing about these guys. I like to refer to them as the “Bland Squad”. They are a group of action movie stereotypes that I was not interested in at all. I’m not a fan of Hemsworth’s work but I can’t blame him for this. His character is absolutely unnecessary and he literally has nothing to do. Couldn’t we just follow Will Smith’s son? Why couldn’t Whitmore’s daughter (A completely wasted Maika Monroe) be dating Dylan rather than Jake?
William Fichtner is here playing…well, a Fichtner character, Sela Ward is the President and for some reason there’s an African Warlord thrown in.
As an aside, there is one particular scene that I found incredibly maddening. Emmerich has a way of cheapening death in his movies and that continues here. I can’t get into specifics without spoiling the movie, but there is one character death that is made instantly meaningless and it didn’t need to be that way. I may get into this later in a spoiler review.
All of these actors have to work with awfully written dialogue. There is one sequence involving the Ward’s president, Goldblum and the leadership of the World that is cringe worthy. Sarcastic jabs probably written for Will Smith are given to other characters and they all fall flat. I only laughed once during the entire movie.
There is a moment where a character tries to recreate the infamous Will Smith-punches-the-alien scene from the first movie. The punch doesn’t work. I can’t think of a more apt moment for this movie.
It doesn’t work.
SCORE: 2 OUT OF 10