Directed by Roland Emmerich. Starring Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Liam Hemsworth, Charlotte Gainsbourg.
THE PLOT: Twenty years after a gang of plucky humans, led by President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) and David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), saved the world from invading aliens, earthly technology has been advanced by studying the remains of the alien ships, landmarks have been rebuilt and humans have set up a first defence base on the moon. The trouble is that while earth has had time to build defences against another attack, the aliens have also spent their time regrouping and, in the words of former President Whitmore; “They’re coming back, and this time we won’t be able to stop them”.
THE VERDICT: ‘Independence Day’ is one of a number of movies from the 1990s that have been granted cult status by fans and, with the advances in technology since the film was first released in 1996, it is little wonder that director Roland Emmerich wanted to revisit beloved characters to tell an even bigger, messier and louder tale.
Many of the original cast are back for this sequel, including Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Vivica A. Fox, Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsch, and they are joined by newcomers Liam Hemsworth, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Angelababy, Jessie T. Usher and Maika Monroe. All of the cast do fine in their roles, with Jeff Goldblum, Brent Spiner and Bill Pullman easily stealing the show. The newcomers to the franchise fare slightly worse, as it is with them that much of the exposition lies; there is a real attempt to tie these new cast members to ones from the original film, which does not always work, and some of the dialogue they are given is clunky to say the least.
Screenwriters Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich and James Vanderbilt try their best to recapture the lightning in a bottle feel of the first film, and wisely put beloved characters to the fore of the film. This is where problems begin to arise, however, as many of the newcomers are not given a chance to develop on screen fully, with many of them feeling like they have been inserted into the story simply to deliver quips, one liners or to meet a gender/diversity quota. The story zips along at a strong pace, but in the second half of the film, this picks up into a near panic as the film scrambles to fill in the blanks that it created in the first half. Add to this a robot ex-cinema that comes to save the day and feels very out of place, and a sequence on the moon that would have been far more impactful if it took place on Earth, and ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ loses all of the shabby, plucky charm of the original.
As director, Roland Emmerich seems to have taken the line “Well it’s certainly bigger than the last one” as some sort of mission statement; the destruction is way up on the last one – bits of Beijing even get dropped on London – the aliens are bigger and more plentiful, as is the slightly clichéd and clunky co-operation between countries that we know to be at war in the real world. The performances are fine – Goldblum and his colleagues from the first film are infinitely more watchable than the newcomers – but the pacing is messy, as is the tension built and dropped throughout the film. That said, there are some nice call backs to the original film and although the film is loud and kinda dumb, there is a lot of fun to be had with this ridiculous all-out assault between humans and aliens.
In all, ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ lacks the shabby, makeshift charm of the first film, but the returning cast shine in this destruction heavy, obviously heavily edited disaster movie/alien invasion flick. There is often too much plot going on, which means the development of characters suffers, and there are some story points that are beyond ridiculous, but there is a lot of fun to be had with this loud, slightly dumb, popcorn flick. Just don’t think too much about the original.
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    20 years ago, this reviewer watched in awe as aliens invaded Earth and then destroyed much of it in Independence Day, before a rag-tag group of survivors fought back and saved the planet. A sequel was talked about for many years, but the dynamic duo of director Roland Emmerich and his co-writer/producer Dean Devlin thought twice about this in the wake of 9/11 and their inability to come up with an idea that worked properly. In fact, they even gave back the money that 20th Century Fox had given them to develop the script. But in more recent years, they hit upon an original idea – that of a legacy and how a new generation would deal with a return visit. The generation that grew up in the wake of the War of 96, whose loved ones died. That is the basic premise of Independence Day: Resurgence.

    Humans have now utilised alien technology to develop stronger, faster and better aircraft and weapons. On the moon, there’s an outer space defence system built by Earth Space Defence. This is where we meet space tug pilot Jake (Liam Hemsworth) and soldiers Dylan (Jessie T. Usher) – son of the late Captain Steven Hiller – and former President Whitmore’s daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe). Speaking of former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman), he’s not doing so well and is plagued by visions that the aliens are coming back. The question is only when. It may be 20 years in Earth time, but it might be a matter of weeks to the aliens to regroup and launch another attack. This is something confirmed by David (Jeff Goldblum), when he discovers a newly announced distress signal coming from an alien spaceship that landed in the Congo 20 years earlier. Meanwhile, Dr Okun (Brent Spiner) has returned with an intriguing analysis that poses much bigger questions. And then the mother of all motherships arrives to finish those pesky humans off once and for all…

    Independence Day: Resurgence sure took its time getting here, but Emmerich and Devlin have certainly delivered on their promise of getting the story right. It would have been tempting to just do a greatest hits repeat of the original, but they clearly have much grander plans for the franchise now. A sequel should be different to its predecessor and that’s certainly true of Resurgence. It may have other returning actors (Vivica A. Fox, Judd Hirsch and the late Robert Loggia), but there’s definitely a sense of a passing of the torch to a new generation. A new generation that will take the story in exciting new directions.

    That’s not to say that Resurgence doesn’t have fun. A lot of fun. Once again, there’s a city-destroying setpiece with the added element of gravity to really mix things up. It’s a jaw-dropping sequence capped off by a brilliant, knowing one-liner from David – ‘they like to get the landmarks’. How about landmarks on top of landmarks to really top off the original’s signature sequence? Genius. Moving away from model spaceships and practical fire effects moving up a tilted model cityscape, Emmerich now has better visual effects at his hands. It’s a visually dazzling film with much of its budget onscreen, as the real mothership latches onto a big chunk of the planet like a demented octopus. Emmerich and Devlin have moved up the alien technology too, suggesting that we were only getting a hint of their capabilities in the first film. The idea of the Earth Space Defence is an interesting one, as Emmerich also gets to ape Starship Troopers for a while.

    For all the fun though, it doesn’t entirely work. As with the original, there are some flimsy plotholes that are quickly papered over and explained away. New alien attackers which can be easily piloted by humans – er… just a new interface?. Also, if we can hack into alien technology, then why can’t we have shields on our aircraft as well? Thankfully, there’s nothing as dubious as a humble Apple Powerbook bringing down a mothership this time around. Emmerich saves something truly monstrous for later on, though it’s a little too similar to Monsters: Dark Continent. Many summer blockbusters are overlong, so it’s admirable for the film to come in at a tight 2 hours, a good bit shorter than its predecessor. There’s less set-up and more pay-off this time, but some storylines feel short-changed e.g. that of serving President Lanford (Sela Ward). Like the original, perhaps a longer special edition will follow later.

    Independence Day: Resurgence thankfully doesn’t drop the ball and is a barnstorming blockbuster that is exciting and action-packed. It may wobble occasionally, but it’s on mostly solid ground. A legacy sequel that feels deserved and earned rather than unwelcome for a change. ***