by: S. Scott Stanikmas – Senior Staff Writer
Back in 1996 director Roland Emmerich scored a massive hit with Independence Day. Starring an up-and-coming a certain Fresh Prince from Bel Air alongside the comedic talents of Jeff Goldblum and the acting chops of Bill Pullman, ID4 was a game changer and is still an excellent movie, chock full of drama, action and just enough jingoism to make your heart swell and your eyes tear up (especially during Pullman’s rousing speech that has only been rivaled by Idris Elba’s in Pacific Rim).
If only the same could be said for it’s successor, Independence Day: Resurgence. FOX stuck it with the tagline “We had twenty years to prepare. So did they.” If only they took those twenty years to develop a better story we’d be talking about a film that might have rivaled the first installment.
Starting two decades after the events of the first film we find the planet Earth in an era of unprecedented peace. It took an alien invasion almost wiping us out for the human race to learn to co-exist peacefully with one another. And in that time (using alien technology and combining it with our own) we’ve made advances in science that at one time would have been thought of as pure science fiction.
As the twenty year anniversary of the first major victory against the aliens approaches however, the human race will once again be threatened. Called out to an African war zone, where the battle between humans and aliens has still been raging, Earth Space Defense Director David Levinson (Goldblum) is alerted to an astonishing development – the only craft that had crash landed on Earth has suddenly turned back on and is operational. Even more troublesome is that it seems to be pinging a distress call that has been answered and the aliens return.
In a bombastic display we see the alien’s ship – and it is massive! Attaching itself to the planet like a tick would to a dog, the gigantic craft hooks itself in and begins to drill.
Now it’s up to the ESD’s plucky and brave pilots led by Dylan Dubrow Hiller (Jessie Usher as the son of Will Smith and Vivica Fox’s characters form the first film) and Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) to answer the call and take down the aliens before their plans destroy all life on Earth.
The film wants you to feel like the planet is on the brink of destruction again but it just never makes it to that point. While we do see an excellent sequence where the mothership is latching itself to Earth that’s really all we get in the way of planetary carnage and mayhem. If you’re telling me that the entire Eastern coast of the United States is going to be destroyed at least show a cool aerial shot from space showing just that!
Instead they waste time with unnecessary cutaways that do little in the way of advancing the story. They could have cut the entire subplot with Judd Hirsch and focused more on the destruction of the planet. But if they did that they wouldn’t get the stereotypical Jewish guy calling people a “putz” and acting wacky for no reason. And really, isn’t that what people are coming to film like Independence Day: Resurgence for?
The one major upside is that the 3D effects look stunning. If you do go and see it splurge see it in 3D. The opening sequence alone will get you your extra dollars worth.
While Emmerich does a fine job at presenting some fantastic action sequences it means very little as this film lacks heart. We get the bare bones characterization that tries to elicit some kind of caring from us that is never earned. Most of the plot points are so paint-by-numbers you should get a brush with this film along with your 3D glasses.
Independence Day: Resurgence wants so desperately to be the big fireworks that end the show and send everyone home happy. Instead it delivers an unsatisfying pop (with an ending that promises more films) while fizzling out like a sparkler that you’d try to hand off to the kids, but even they get bored with it after a couple minutes.