Movie Review: Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
“We had twenty years to prepare. So did they.”
Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
Director: Roland Emmerich
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman
Synopsis: Twenty years after the first alien invasion, Earth is faced with a new, much greater, threat.
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A few years ago, in a retrospective review of the first Independence Day movie, I wrote that, in the wake of the catastrophic, world-changing events of 9/11, it was unlikely that Hollywood would ever again produce a movie of such swaggering self-confidence. Naturally, then, I was floored by the news that a sequel was on the cards, and wondered whether it was possible that the US film industry really felt that enough time had passed for audiences to once again feel comfortable with the kind of bombastic messages of military and moral superiority with which Hollywood had bombarded them in the latter half of the 20th Century. The answer is yes and no. The kick-ass mentality has emerged from the rubble more or less intact, but the nationalistic arrogance has largely dissipated. Twenty years after the first wave of attacks in Independence Day, it’s the world that rallies together against a renewed attack, instead of just America.
The world has been transformed by the previous alien attack; nations are now united in an unlikely and enduring spirit of harmony, and.technology found in the ships left by the vanquished invaders has resulted in a hyper-leap forward in the technological advancement of the human race. President Whitmore (Bill Pullman – Cymbeline, The Equalizer), who delivered an inspirational speech before clambering into a jet to play his part in the first aliens’ downfall, is now retired, and suffering from nightmares in which the aliens are preparing to launch another attack on Earth. Naturally, these dreams prove to be prophetic, and it’s not long before an alien ship spanning 3,000 miles is parking itself above the planet in preparation for an attack which will make the previous assault look like a playground spat.
Will Smith’s heroic pilot is absent from this one, but, in addition to Whitmore, a number of characters from Independence Day return, many of them looking a lot more grizzled since their previous encounter. Dr Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner) emerges from a 20-year coma with muscles and vocal cords in full working order to scribble enigmatic equations on the walls and provide some welcome comic relief, David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum – Between the Lines, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension), shuttles between Earth and the moon as he endeavours to replicate his lightbulb moment from two decades before, while Judd Hirsch (Ordinary People, The Muppets) proves entirely superfluous to the plot as his father. The young guns introduced to actually do the fighting prove to be rather bland by comparison, though. Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games, The Duel) is pilot Jake Morrison, a cookie-cutter rebel hero earmarked for greatness from his very first scene, who is reluctantly involved in a feud with straight-as-an-arrow Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher), the son of Smith’s character from the first movie. No prizes for guessing how that turns out…
With an estimated budget of $165 million, it’s no surprise that the effects on Independence Day: Resurgence look stupendous, but the film never really catches fire simply because it relies so heavily on special effects to dazzle its audience instead of trying to entertain them with a stimulating plot. It will entertain on a brain-off-feet-up level, and it’s a relief that it isn’t as willfully stupid as its predecessor, but Independence Day: Resurgence is a prime example of a movie whose sole inspiration is financial.
(Reviewed 29th July 2016)