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Independence Day: Resurgence Review

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Independence Day is not a perfect movie, but god damn it, it’s an energetic, fun, loud cheesy action fest that has rightly becoming much loved to many a generation. We’ve been clamouring for a sequel for years now, and finally, almost two decades to the original’s release, here it is, Independence Day: Resurgence. Is it worth the wait? .........................no, not even close. Everything was there to deliver an experience on par with the original, Roland Emmerich is once again at the helm, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman return (though not the guy we all want) to the roles they’re probably most known for to a main stream audience, and the aliens are bigger and badder than before. But the energy is no longer there, and the fun is almost non-existent. I’m not looking at this through a nostalgia tinted lens, a sequel will never be its predecessor, but this is a massive Summer blockbuster that just so happens to share a name with the movie that pretty much set the template for Summer blockbusters of the modern age, and it’s kind of frustrating that it tries very little to live up to its name.


Let’s start with the story. Twenty years after the war of '96, alien technology has been folded into our own to create a technology advanced paradise. The celebrations to commemorate the 20th anniversary of our brush with aliens are in full swing, when........you guessed, the aliens come back to hassle more landmarks. That’s the main plot of IDR in a nutshell. Now, there are some plot wrinkles thrown in to make this not just a complete carbon copy of the original, but it’s three act structure is pretty much the same: the aliens arrive, wreck shop, humanity fights back with a Hail Mary  play. The main problem this time round is the pacing. There’s no sense of urgency to the whole affair, with the initial contact with the massive alien mother ship being especially dull and lacking any sort of spectacle as it just trundles across the globe to its desired spot. Sure, part of China is picked up and dumped onto London, but it just feels more like ticking boxes than a proper set piece, and, for the most part, the rest of the movie follows suit. The effects do hold up and can be pretty impressive at times, but there are moments when the effects department really drop the ball, especially in early scenes set in Africa, which becomes the land of bad green screen.

There are flashes of excitement, with aerial dog fights and a final battle that veers on the right side of creature feature, but again, the pace is all over the place, slowing down when it should speed up and surging forward when staying slow and steady would be the better option. This also hurts Emmerich’s attempts at creating emotional hooks for the story, especially with numerous characters sacrificing their lives for the greater good. Not enough time is spent on really developing these however, and they just sort of happen and are immediately forgotten about. This is especially true for one such moment in the third act that happens in the badly edited blink of an eye, robbing it of all its power.


The huge ensemble cast does provide some light in the darkness, with Jeff Goldblum once again going full Goldblum as unlikely action hero David Levinson. Scenes immediately brighten whenever he’s on screen. Same goes for Bill Pullman, whose now ex-Presidnet Whitmore given some nice character beats that do add a bit to the story. The younger cast doesn’t fare as well. Our Will Smith sustitue, Jesse Usher, is no Will Smith, and it becomes painfully obvious very early. His Dylan Hiller, son of Smith’s Steven, is so bland and uninteresting that you don’t one bit what happens. Which isn’t a good thing since Emmerich is clearly pushing him as the emotional core of the story. Maika Monroe and Liam Hemsworth fare slightly better, and actually give you characters to care about, even if they take their sweet time about it. What hurts the movie the most is the sheer size of the cast. We’re talking sixteen named characters who all have an impact on the main plot, and the movie struggles under the weight of giving them something to do. An over abundance of comic relief doesn’t help matters either, with Brent Spiner, Judd Hirsch, and Nicolas Wright (or John Oliver: The Accountant Years, as I’ve grown fond of calling him) all just existing to spout one liners or sarcastic quips. Hirsch and Spiner actually do prove to be endearing, having done this schtick before, but newcomer Wright becomes nothing more than a nuisance from his first scene, and your opinion of him will only get worse every time you see him.

It’s been twenty years, so I don’t think I can call Independence Day: Resurgence a cash grab. Instead, it preys on our nostalgia, delivering fans a dull, shadow of the original. Again, the first movie is far from perfect, but it is so much better than this.






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The Movie Bit: Independence Day: Resurgence Review
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