Release Date: June 24, 2016
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer: Nicolas Wright, James A. Woods, Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, James Vanderbilt
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Jessie T. Usher, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Sela Ward, William Fichtner, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Patrick St. Esprit, Vivica A. Fox, Angelababy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Deobia Oparei, Nicolas Wright, Travis Tope, Chin Han, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Robert Loggia, John Storey, Joey King, Jenna Purdy, Garrett Wareing, Hays Wellford, Mckenna Grace.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 120 minutes
Production Company: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
I have my own reservations about Twentieth Century Fox and the way they adapt feature films. Annoyed with many of their properties, they still delivered one of the greatest movie theater experiences twenty years ago with Independence Day. Having watched the Blu-ray edition just a few weeks prior to seeing the sequel, a few of the effects don’t hold up, but the characters and their relationships do. We saw humans from all different walks of life come together in ways that can’t be imaginable, for the greater good. The relationships were deep, and you cared as if a loved one of yours was in danger during the alien invasion. Going into Independence Day: Resurgence I knew we wouldn’t get the same magic as before, but I still wanted to be optimistic. Though it turns out this sequel doesn’t come remotely close to its predecessor, and I’m shocked at the poor quality of visual effects that bring the film down to a failing level.
What piqued my interest the most was the real world time that passed by within the film. Twenty years has passed in the real world just as it did within the film, and all the surrounding technology shows just that. The creativity linking human and alien technology was brilliant. Seeing helicopters glide effortlessly, or new vehicles with robotic arms was jaw dropping. It flowed smoothly, made sense within the narrative, and was one of the easiest pills to swallow for a follow up. I was filled with joy at the thought of a future where such advancements have been met, and the way the film spoke volumes of working together as a whole was extremely apparent. It’s as if the alien invasion twenty years ago cleansed the earth of all hate, pride, and stupidity, and as a species we’re on our way to travel beyond the stars.
Of course we have to address the elephant in the room with Will Smith not being a part of this film. He was surely missed, and the film did take a step back without his presence, but his theatrical son Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher) made up for it the best he could. I was worried he was going to attempt impersonating Will Smith, but he did bring his own style of flare. Even though his charisma is light years behind that of Smith’s, he was still able to bring a notable legacy to his father. James Morrison (Liam Hemsworth) was just another fair character. He didn’t bring or take anything away from the film. I am glad to say that much of the previous cast did return to this sequel, but am saddened one particular character died for no reason. It didn’t create any emotional stakes so the decision wasn’t necessary.
So for the first hour the same intensity and build up wasn’t there, but you’re excited venturing on in the new advanced world. Though once the aliens show up for their triumphant return things turn south rather quickly. Some of the great iconic shots that were used in the first film are repeated, but don’t contain the same theatrical pop. Then when it’s the human vs aliens in midair doing dog fights, it’s difficult to make out who’s who with both species using the same technology. It look like a bunch of lasers flying back and forth through the screen, and that got boring fast. During the first film, we’d never seen anything like this before. As the military tried to use machine guns and missiles, we the audience were as shocked as the soldiers on screen learning they had no effect. There were no moments like this during the action, but you’re still curious to know where the aliens come from.
The constant use of blue and/or green screen wasn’t the worst portion of the film. With the notion that we’ve created new weapons with alien technology, the filmmakers also attempted to make giant bases and camps with the knowledge as well. It didn’t work in the slightest, with every background looking as if it was inserted by an amateur. This took place in every other scene, and it just sucked me right out of the film. You knew the characters weren’t really there and were instead on some soundstage, which erased all of the magic. Let’s not add all the blatant conveniences the plot served the story to move along. I understand the world is more advanced now, but there were too many instances where all the right people were set in the exact place they needed to be to work out a solution. We shouldn’t have won this war ten times over, but for some unexplained reason we did.
Besides all that, you can’t take the film seriously as a whole. Great characters from the first film did return, but half of them weren’t the same. They were cartoon versions of what came before. Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch) and Dr. Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner) are great examples of this, with the film spending too much time on them, while also turning them into buffoons. Then the action was as if a six-year-old wrote it, with all the stakes derived up in the simplest way. Things never have to be over complicated, but challenge the audience instead of relying on lazy writing. The last debacle was the attempt to set up a sequel no one wants. It was so on the nose that this movie should’ve been free! I wouldn’t have been surprised if one of the actors turned to the camera asking the audience, “Hey, I know this movie sucks, but do you want a sequel?” The sad thing is in so many words one character said that to the rest of the cast, then the credits dropped.
Rolland Emmerich directed this film as well as the first, and he’s the king of destroying the planet. But I have to be honest in saying his films are becoming worse and worse as time goes on. For some odd reason blowing stuff up and flashy spectacles are more important than common sense, plot, and cohesiveness. This film had multiple writers behind the scene, and it shows. As I’m writing this exact sentence I’m thinking about another subplot in the film that was just dropped off and never addressed again, which I don’t feel like writing about. That shows how bad this movie is. Independence Day is arguably one of the greatest cinematic achievements in film history when it comes to giant blockbusters. So I know it’s difficult to meet those standards a second time around. Though with this sorry attempt of entertainment I’m angry with the outcome, with it being a dribbling mess of garbage that pretends to be a worthy sequel.