Film Review: ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’
Opened: 23 June 2016 (UK)
Cast: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe, Travis Tope, William Fichtner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Judd Hirsch, Jessie Usher, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox
Director: Roland Emmerich
Producers: Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich, Harald Kloser
Mild spoilers ahead.
“We are fighting for our right to live. To exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!”
Those iconic lines uttered by Bill Pullman (who's also seen here reprising his role as a self-affirming, but ultimately loopy ex-president Thomas Whitmore), echo in your head as you uncomfortably trawl through this travesty of a film, where the razzmatazz of special effects and chaos do little to hide the slipshod screenplay and dire script, and all but wipe out any sense of nostalgia that you may have had from the first film.
Agreed, that the 1996 original was itself far from being a classic, but it had a trio of arresting self-deprecating leads (Will Smith, Pullman, Jeff Goldblum) who surrendered to the sheer silliness of it all and made it one of the biggest blockbusters of its time. There was build up and tension (which is sorely lacking in this instalment), as one by one, several iconic landmarks were obliterated by a sinister alien threat – that scene where the White House and Empire State go up in flames is still one of the most iconic scenes in cinematic history . Sadly, there’s none of that memorability in this film, which despite having some jaw-dropping special effects, is so inexplicably, mind numbingly flat, it makes you wonder when aliens taking over the world became this joyless and boring.
Set two decades after the catastrophic events of the first film, Independence Day: Resurgence takes place in the present day, where post that apocalyptic alien invasion, humans have become smarter and wiser and more resistant to any threat from ugly inter galactic cowboys hell bent on human extinction. As a result, we have at our disposal, more state of the art weaponry and have even set up base on the moon, in a bid to keep an eye out for any extra-terrestrial forces that threaten our existence.
Unbeknown to us however, one of the ships from the previous invasion has sent out a distress signal to its peers in outer space summoning for back-up, which now sees an even bigger ship hurtling towards earth – a ship so huge it sends our armed forces into a quandary, after it destroys most of Asia and London as soon as it enters our atmosphere.
It is now up to new blood (Jessie Usher, Maika Monroe, Liam Hemsworth) and familiar faces from the first instalment (mostly wasted mind, the biggest casualty being Vivica Fox’s character, one of the key players in the first film, but reduced here to a bit part, and who’s demise is of little consequence to the overall plot), to take the alien threat head on, and once again kick some extra-terrestrial butt in a bid to rescue the world from total annihilation.
The fact that this film has a total of five writers (including Emmerich himself) is nothing short of puzzling, given the woeful lines that the actors are forced to dole out. Time and again we’ve proven that CGI will never make up for lazy writing and it doesn’t help either, that the newer cast, while easy on the eye, have less charisma than Smith’s cigar in the first, and deliver these lines with the expertise of an unplugged fridge. It’s not entirely their fault to be fair. Resurgence is stuffed with so many characters, that none of them, except perhaps Goldblum, get a chance to shine, but there’s little even he can do to salvage the turd that this space wreck ultimately turns out to be. It’s no wonder Smith bailed this time round.
Agreed, that things do pick up pace in the film’s climax, when the ‘Queen’ runs amuck around Area 51, but by then it’s much too late to rescue it given that until then, it relies solely on explosions, destruction and a hap-hazard screenplay to make the cut, while being paper thin on plot, wit or character development.
In all honesty I went into this with unfairly high expectations, purely because the first instalment was so much fun. Back then Independence Day was responsible for kick-starting a series of similar disaster films, most of which proved to be decent popcorn fodder and more of the same was expected here. What we ultimately get though is not a disaster film, but a disastrous film, that’s lazy and relies solely on visuals and nostalgia to see it through. And unlike say a Jurassic World, it fails. Miserably.