I recently re-watched the first film and was surprised at how robust its shelf life is. Again, it is undeniably cheesy and jingoistic, but done suitably well, I can have a ball with any material. In "Independence Day: Resurgence", set and finally released 20 years after the events of the first film, the aliens get medieval on us with an even bigger mothership.
There's a lot of heroics here by many a character who do their equal part to stop this new alien menace, having already made a stuffed calzone of the Earth's crust comprising from London all the way to Singapore. There's also a refreshingly silly undertone which sets it apart from the grim and serious blockbusters of today, and with added Jeff Goldblum and Judd Hirsch who return as the Levinsons, and "Star Trek" alumnus Brent Spiner as the eccentric Dr. Okun, Emmerich and his co-writers, including returning scribe Dean Devlin, certainly did not skimp out on the comic silliness.
Unfortunately, that is where the similarities end. The sins of sequelitis has been bestowed upon this sequel to his 1996 smash hit, and Emmerich is to blame, either for his laziness to phone it in out of frustration to fulfill the fans; or bucking in to studio demand to condense the film into a mere 2 hours. Sure, lots of things happen in the film, including stuff and cities going kablooey in high style, and high-tech aerial dogfights to give "Star Wars" a run for its money. Even Liam Hemsworth as the new hero Jake Morrison did not annoy me as much as I expected, though Hemsworth is still a far cry from Will Smith's "Elvis has left the building!" persona.
However, as slick as the modern CGI is, giving a sleeker look to the tech shown in the original film, it never quite gels together as a cohesive film - no momentum, no suspense, no catharsis when it does end. Bill Pullman's returning ex-President Thomas Whitmore is utterly wasted, as per his daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe, not doing her rep from "It Follows" any favours). It is not their fault; I feel that there is a lot of footage Emmerich was forced to excise by the Fox bigwigs to get more butts into cinema seats. Perhaps an extra half- hour of more cataclysmic destruction and character motives, but I may be asking for a bit too much at this point.
Things are very rushed indeed, with no payoff even when there's lots of characters doing their fair share to save the day. Goldblum and Hirsch, however, are still naturals, and they steal every scene they're in, and lift the movie up from near tediousness. Nevertheless, the special effects are fantastic, and are most certainly worth the price of admission alone.
It's kind of sad. This new one promotes global equality, with a female U.S. President (Sela Ward) celebrating world peace, and with everyone from across the globe giving it their all to kick E.T.'s ass. The action is fine and dandy without any of those annoying shaky-cam and quick-cut edits. And yet, the film suffers from awkward pacing, rushed dynamics, and especially a lack of cities exploding into fireballs. It even has sequel-teasing in the laziest manner possible in its final moments.
To quote Marvin the Martian, "Where's the kaboom? There's supposed to be an Earth-Shattering Kaboom!"
Two decades after the first Independence Day invasion, Earth is faced with a new extra-Solar threat. But will mankind's new space defenses be enough?
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