*Warning: Potential Spoilers*
Two decades after aliens first threatened our world, prepare for a movie that tells the exact same story on a slightly bigger scale with better graphics and more characters that you barely care about. That’s right- Independence Day: Resurgence is basically Independence Day (1996) all over again, with a few slight tweaks to bring the movie forward twenty years and a new cast of characters that they expect you to like when really, all you want to do is cut back to Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman (who are the only ones worth caring about). Plus they don’t even have Will Smith anymore, so really, what’s the point? Oh right, the point is to open it up for more sequels.
Twenty years after the first Independence Day invasion, David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) has been using alien technology to help the human race prepare for another attack. Weapons have been upgraded, the moon has a defense base, orphans and descendants of the original attack are trained as pilots to combat any attacks that may be pointed Earth’s way (including Liam Hemsworth, the cocky and arrogant fighter pilot, engaged to President Whitmore’s daughter Maika Monroe and rival of Jessie T. Usher, the star of the pilot program and son of Will Smith). As the anniversary of the attack approaches, Whitmore and Levinson begin getting signs that the aliens may be on their way back, and back in Area 51, Dr. Okun wakes from a coma after the telepathic attack 2o years ago. Sure enough, an enormous craft appears near the moon and, despite looking different than the original aliens’ ship, is shot down. Just as congratulations are passed around, the aliens are back- for revenge and to finish their work.
“Bigger is Better” was not so much a theme for this movie as a way of life. Everything from the first movie has been enhanced for a 2016 viewing experience, from the new big-ass ship (it’s so big that it’s even more sad this time around that the human race has about five minutes warning before their imminent demise, like no one watches the skies for a living even after they’ve already been attacked by aliens once) to the fancy new guns to the destruction of, well, everything. Seriously, there’s so much destruction that it’s a surprise there aren’t more people dead, main characters and just humanity in general. Of course, this philosophy meant there was plenty of room for improving the visuals. The space fights, the destruction of the world, even the aliens themselves are more awe-inspiring just because of the technology and, well, money that went into the making of it all.
It’s a good thing that we can love watching the movie, because we sure don’t care about anyone actually in the movie. At least, not the new kids. It’s not like Star Wars where as excited we are to see the first generation, we appreciate the new players to the game- none of the new characters of Independence Day are interesting or worth caring about. They are basically walking cliches- the cocky fighter pilot who’s pissed off at the world for his parents’ deaths, the son of a legend trying to live up to the name (for which he and said cocky fighter pilot will battle to the death over for some forced tension), the dorky guy friend who is just begging for an alien to kill him, a couple of girls who we can’t remember their names or even if they are new characters or old (seriously Jeff Goldblum NEEDED a love interest, apparently, and I can’t remember for the life of me if I’m supposed to know who she is or not) and the daughter of the president who seems like she’s supposed to be cool but basically is a walking plot jump-start.
Even some of the original characters are less than stellar in this sequel. Goldblum never fails to amuse, thankfully, and Pullman still gives an amazing speech. Dr. Brackish Okun (Brent Spiner, in a surprise return role for most fans), however, is delegated to being the comic relief of the film, if you can call butt jokes “comic relief”. We also get Goldblum’s onscreen dad, Julius (Judd Hirsch) back to complain about how he never sees his son or has any grandkids while driving a school bus full of now-orphaned kids across the desert. In a movie that already feels a little too long, sure, let’s cut away from the action to hear the domestic woes of a character we are already wishing were dead.
That’s the other thing about Resurgence: it feels really, really long. About three different plans go into effect with this movie and there’s a lot of talking in between them, so it almost feels like they could have split this into two separate movies, though it’s really only two hours (which is not nearly the longest movie I’ve ever sat through). There is a point to that though- it opens up the screenwriters to at least two more sequels, both of which have been announced and planned. So, despite the fact that producer and writer Dean Devlin withheld this script for years because he was worried about “not having the story” (and he was right), the studio was so sure this movie would make its money back that they were ready to sign us all up for more space fights. I like space fights. But right now, I’m a little worried about the characters who are going to be fighting the space fights and whether or not I’ll actually care about them fighting their space fights.
Especially if Will Smith isn’t helping lead the charge. I mean, come on.
Honestly I just really want to see CinemaSins get ahold of this one. I counted about 12 sins on my own and I’m not even a member of their team.