I want to be honest, I was not a fan of the original Independence Day released 20 years ago. Looking back, I can understand why Independence Day was the biggest box office film of 1996 – it featured Will Smith in his prime, the special effects were great, and honestly it was a fun summer movie; but that’s it. The problem with ID4 was that we had seen most of it’s material before and far better. ID4 essentially copied other movies regarding alien invasions, and with its special effects, attempted to make it more memorable. With Independence Day: Resurgence, nothing new really grabbed my attention or has me wanting to tell my friends about it.
If you watch and study ID4 you will see the cues that the filmmakers took from other similar movies – War of the Worlds, The Day the Earth Stood Still and Alien. All of these aforementioned films are better and even more memorable than ID4. I will say that the one scene has stuck with me, that being the eight second scene where the White House is vaporized into nothing; it was both shocking and visually stunning. This new Independence Day lacks any punch whatsoever in its use of “Oh My God did you see that?!” moments.
Resurgence follows up exactly after ID4 ends. Things have changed in terms of the available technology – they have since used the alien weaponry and advancement to make the planet better. Additionally, there are no more world conflicts, they care about the people on Earth in the event that the aliens return, and they even have a station on the moon with which they can travel there rather quickly. Also, we learn why the aliens attacked Earth in the first place and essentially who they are, which wasn’t mentioned in the first film. Some characters return and are still resuming their lives from when we last saw them. David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) is still out in the world trying to understand the alien technology and learn why they came in the first place. He is now the Director of the Earth Space Defense to monitor any more foreign invaders. President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman) is back and looks totally nuts with a bushy beard and is suffering from visions that the aliens will come back.
Well guess what? Unsurprisingly, the aliens return and my, is there ship HUGE. It was cool to see this large mothership fall from space onto our planet destroying cities once again, but it was disappointing that with the advancement of CGI in the 20 years since the original, that Roland Emmerich didn’t decide to go all out and really show us some great destruction scenes. ID4, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012 to name a few, displayed some fantastical and memorable destruction sequences and I wonder why Mr. Emmerich didn’t return to style.
Some interesting things do happen in the film: there is one scene where a giant white spherical ball is actually communicating with Earth, but I won’t reveal what exactly that entails. Another thing that surprised me was the exact formula that was used with the new characters. There is some attempt to create a story with them, but all in all, I came to not really care about these people. They are all the same; a guy sees a girl and really wants to be with her; two pilots who were once friends now have a strained friendship, but once the aliens arrive, they must put differences aside to work together. Why not give us characters who, for example, studied how the aliens attacked and plan a course of action when they come back? Why not give us some real hardcore bad-asses?
The theater that I went to was hardly packed and featured audience members who were twice and even three times my age. I wonder if they really enjoyed this new invasion film as compared to 20 years ago. Resurgence fails at delivering exciting thrills, awesome memorable moments, and even a sense of fun. I found myself yawning and begging for the action scenes to just end. We never get to a moment when there is just too much – well, the fighter jet scenes were confusing just by trying to identify who was who. In the very least, there were some comedic moments, “Careful, they like to hit the landmarks,” says one character.
Verdict: 2 out of 5
Even though I didn’t enjoy the first ID4, I was very excited and hopeful for this new film. I was sure that Emmerich would deliver some great moments, but instead I found myself falling asleep, and feeling disappointed when the end credits rolled. I feel as though Michael Bay (Transformers) would’ve done a better job if he directed the film because at least it would have been a fun experience. Resurgence is technically the first summer movie since the solstice hit, and this is a disappointing misfire. We had 20 years to prepare, so did they – that’s the film tagline; but after 20 years, it’s time to move on and forget that the aliens even arrived.