Movie Review: ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’
PG-13 | 120 min
Director: Roland Emmerich
by Jason Koenigsberg
Twenty years ago Independence Day exploded onto movie screens and redefined epic event movies and dominated all 1996 summer blockbusters. It had awe-inspiring special effects and the detailed look of the city-sized alien ships was like nothing audiences had seen before. Sadly, Independence Day: Resurgence plays like an excuse for mass destruction and a quick cash grab. The writers and producers had twenty years to come up with the sequel and this was the best they could do? Pathetic.
This time around the alien ships are bigger, but that does not necessarily mean better. The giant mother ship is big enough to have its own gravitational pull and destroys everything in its path. Unfortunately, these alien vehicles recycle the same set design from the original, nothing breathtaking like the visuals from the first film. The Earth they are attacking in this sequel is very different from the one that they attacked two decades prior. It is a peaceful planet and technologically advanced thanks to what the aliens left behind.
That is the biggest problem with Independence Day: Resurgence, it coasts on audiences familiarity with the original and adds nothing new, or at least nothing stunning or exciting. The film opens up with audio of Bill Pullman’s uplifting speech from the original over shots in deep space. The writers and marketing people were really thin on ideas since we have heard this speech in every trailer and tv spot for Resurgence. Its heavy reliance on iconic moments from the original really detracted from making this sequel stand out on its own. Also, it would have been much better without the constant reminders that Will Smith is not in this movie. All it did was make the viewer miss his charisma that helped elevate the first picture.
However, it was nice to see Jeff Goldblum reprise his character and he actually gave the best performance because his was the only one that seemed to be fully realized. Judd Hirsch is back as his cantankerous father and they have a nice dynamic as they banter back and forth. Bill Pullman’s role was reduced to being a one note admirable but crazy old man suffering from PTSD because of his alien encounter in the first film. The only character that had decent comic relief was Brent Spiner returning as Dr. Okun and the script conveniently picks up exactly where you would want him to.
All the new characters are serviceable but forgettable. They are all extremely good looking twenty-something year old actors who really do not have much to say or reason to care about them. There was no real character development for all of the new characters other than lame attempts at humor.
All these new people the audience meets are poorly written and the acting is nothing to praise, but the biggest disservice for these new characters is in the editing. Independence Day: Resurgence moves very fast. The pacing is so tight that there is no room for any of the new characters to become three dimensional. The film moves so briskly it feels like the viewer is watching it on fast forward. The scenes move by quick as if everyone is in a hurry to get someplace else, probably a better movie. The run time clocks in at exactly 120 minutes, a solid half hour shorter than its predecessor. For a film that took twenty years to plan, its unfortunate and odd that it seemed like it had to be made on the fly. Skip Independence Day: Resurgence and instead stay home and enjoy the original sci-fi spectacle.
Another movie worth staying home and checking out is The Arrival, a science fiction movie from the summer of ’96 starring Charlie Sheen. It flopped in the wake of Independence Day, but it is a nice small-scale, environmentally conscious thriller about aliens trying to take over our planet.