What it's about:
Twenty years since the events of the original Independence Day, the earth has come together as never before and, making use of the abandoned alien technology to strongly beef up the earth's own tech, are fully armed and equipped to deal with a followup alien invasion. What they get, however, is far more than they could ever have bargained for as it turns out that the original alien spaceship was little more than a scout for something much, much larger and much, much more deadly.
What we thought:
A quick disclaimer: Because of all the construction going on at Nu Metro Hyde Park, the cinema in which I saw this film suffered from the quite typical side effect of all the dust screwing with the projection to the effect that the dark scenes were darker than they should be and the light scenes lose much of their sharpness and vividness. That I saw it in screen-darkening 3D didn't exactly help matters either. It's a problem that the Mall at Rosebank still often suffers from and, like there, there's no denying that this hurt my enjoyment of the film and made the film's weaknesses all the harder to overlook. I stand by all my criticisms, however, as they do seem pretty self-evident to me but there's a good chance that you will enjoy it more if you see if properly projected as it should be. Just something to keep in mind.
After years of empty promises and production hell, a sequel to the gloriously cheesy 1996 smash hit has finally hit our screens but, as you may well have feared, it turned out be too little, too late. While the Independence Day was one of the major blockbusters of the '90s – with only mega hits like Jurassic Park and the Matrix keeping it from dominating the decade entirely – its sequel, optimistically entitled Independence Day: Resurgence, probably won't even be remembered as one of the top three blockbusters of the year, never mind decade.
It's not that it's an absolute stinker like some of the dreck that returning director, Roland Emerich, has been involved with in the intervening years (hello, Godzilla!) but it does fall into that old sequel trap of believing bigger is always better and, if ever there was a film to disprove that idea it's – well, it's probably Jurassic Park III but ID: Resurgence makes an honest jump at it as well.
While the first film alternated between very carefully constructed disaster movie set pieces (will anyone ever forget the sight of the destruction of the White House in Independence Day?), bits of very old-fashioned sci-fi action and plenty of character-based comedy, its sequel is a mess of utterly arbitrary destruction, CG-stuffed and thereby incoherent action scenes and enough characters to fill out several dozen sequels but not enough characterization to fill out even one.
The latter is mostly a problem with the dozen or so new additions – including the likes of Liam Hemsworth, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sela Ward, Maika Monroe and a whole host of others – who may get most of the film's major action scenes but are overshadowed by the returning heroes every step of the way. Well, mostly. Bill Pullman's character is a shadow of his former self: a senile, broken old man who may still get a big speech to rally the good guys but, even then, it's nowhere near the laughably cheesy brilliance of the “today... we celebrate... our INDEPENDENCE DAY” speech that he so made his own in the first film.
No, Bill Pullman is even more ill-served by this sequel than even the absent (and, in-universe, very dead) Will Smith. Fortunately, the other returnees are there to pick up the slack and singlehandedly make the film worth watching – albeit probably only at a discounted price and certainly not in pointless 3D. Brent Spiner returns as the less-dead-than-he-last-appeared mad scientist, Dr Okun, and he's every bit as much fun as the last time – doing everything he can to subvert his most famous role as Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Judd Hirsch, meanwhile, once again plays the endearingly stereotypical Jewish parent (though,weirdly, he's actually a bit closer to the stereotypical Jewish mother than Jewish father) but who actually gets the plotline that is the most in keeping with the tone and feel of the first film as he ends up playing guardian to a family of recently orphaned kids as they try make their way to safety from a recently ravaged coastal city. It's sweeter, funnier and more exciting than anything else in the film not involving Jeff Goldblum.
Speaking of which, Jeff Goldblum is usually enough to recommend any film in which he appears and Independence Day: Resurgence is certainly no exception. Even more of a delight than Hirsch or Spiner, Goldblum brings his character's mix of smarts, neuroticism and surprising bravery to the fore once again and, with the absence of Will Smith, brings even more in the way of genuinely funny one-liners. Even when his character gets involved in the general messiness of the plot, Goldblum is never less than a wonderful standout.
So, yes, there's just about enough to mildly recommend the film (there are some nice bits of world building to go with the fun character stuff too) but it's hard not to be disappointed by this inferior sequel. Especially because the whole thing feels like setup for further and hopefully better installments with the film itself not actually adding up to all that much on its own.
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