Two decades after the lovable original hit the big screen, Independence Day is back with its resurgence and with it, a new look, feel and characters. It was always going to be a tough ask to surpass the high standard the original set with its larger-than-life story and memorable characters but Independence Day: Resurgence doesn’t hit the bar set by its predecessor, it misses it completely and figuratively falls flat on its face. It’s a shame because for the first twenty minutes or so, the film shows great promise and builds some good tension. Somewhere along the way though, this bloated, lifeless sequel loses the charm the original had and with it, any hope of becoming a memorable film.
So now 20 years later we get the sequel. Starting with a brief glimpse into the first film, an alien ship in the vast reaches of the galaxy watches the President’s rousing speech that caused the first invasion of their species to fail with what we assume to be disgust. With clenched fists (or…tentacles?) it punches some buttons on a holographic field, turning the cool blue to angry red as the aliens look set to reclaim Earth with a bigger, bolder and tougher force than before.
Slip forward through space and we end up on a very different Earth from the one that barely survived an alien invasion in 1996. Equipped with technology salvaged from the alien wreckage, humankind has moved forward – colonizing the moon and zipping around Earth in sleek, shiny spaceships. it’s all very futuristic and pleasing to the eye and is a far cry from where we left the original, realistic looking world. Along with a new looking world, we have a host of new characters introduced to bulk up the diminished squad from last time. With fighter pilot Captain Steven Hiller dead and his son looking to try to fill his shoes, Dr Okun in a coma and former President Whitmore taking a backseat to politics, the stage is set to introduce a new wave of heroes in this science fiction flick.
Unfortunately the new characters, lead by Liam Hensworth, are uncharismatic, charmless and don’t do a very good job of engaging us from the off. They feel shallow and paper thin but ironically David Levinson’s (Jeff Goldblum) enthusiasm for the project shows with a pretty good performance but alongside the new guys, it just emphasises the problems with the film. I wish that was the only issue but the story in particular is, well, a mess. There are some questionable plot choices here, one incredulous decision that literally made me say “wait what? Are they serious?” and the climax to the film is up there with some of the worst. The clear sequel-bait ending also left a sour taste in my mouth at the end of a, frankly, disappointing film.
As an example of what I’m talking about, we’ve learnt throughout these two films that the aliens are a ruthless, uncaring, viral community with deadly accuracy and a disregard for human life. Despite levelling cities, killing millions of people and having vastly superior technology…a yellow school bus can outrun and outmaneuver a giant behemoth of an alien queen as it chases them across a vast empty desert. There are many more examples like this in the film but of course I won’t list them here.
I really wanted to love this film. If there’s any saving grace, the film looks spectacular and Director Roland Emmerich does a fantastic job in making a great-looking world. The characters, story and just about everything else just isn’t there though. It’s a lackluster attempt at a sequel with a really bad script and too many characters I just didn’t feel like I cared about. It feels like a project made for profit and not with love and like the aliens that invade Earth, the film is a cold, emotionless drone. For that alone, this is one resurgence that should never have occured.