Independence Day: Resurgence – Review

Review Format 1 - The Plot Spot

Twenty years after the events of the previous film, in which humanity defeated an alien invasion against enormous odds, people have begun to work together across the globe. Earth prepares itself to fend off any more attacks. They have rebuilt – stronger and more unified than ever before.

Everyone is mostly at peace, and involved in their regular lives. Old and new characters alike are going about their days, either continuing to study the aliens, like David Levinson, piloting a fighter jet and captaining a squad like Dylan Dubrow-Hiller, or working as a space tug boat pilot like Jake Morrison, etc.  

INDEPENDENCE DAY: RESURGENCE

On the moon, a new defense emplacement is being deployed, and humanity prepares to celebrate the anniversary of their victory over the aliens on July 4.

That peace and confidence is shattered with the arrival of an alien ship over the moon. As it turns out, humanity was not ready enough. Can the people of earth come through against incredible odds to once again defeat an imperial alien power that far surpasses their own?

Review Format 2 - Target Audience

“Independence Day: Resurgence” is a popcorn-munching sci-fi blockbuster, full of spectacle, destruction, action, and very basic characters. People expecting more from their film going experience than an exciting and visuals-heavy bit of summer fun should look elsewhere.

This is a Roland Emmerich film. It carries all of the hallmarks of his films, and however you feel about those tropes will define your ability to enjoy this film. He loves destruction and big epic action sequences. He loves plots stuffed with characters that are thin and melodramatic. He loves spectacle, and will throw logic and realism right out of the window if it doesn’t serve his vision. This film is a very Roland Emmerich film.

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I don’t believe it is absolutely necessary to have seen the first film to get into this one. “Independence Day,” as a franchise, has never been particularly lore heavy. The aliens are enigmatic and the characters from the first movie were never very deep to begin with, however fun they might have been. Some of the most memorable characters are dead, such as Will-Smith’s Captain Steven Hiller, and I think only one character from the previous film has more screen time in this follow up than their original appearance. Because of all that, while it would be beneficial to see the first film(as is true of almost all sequels), it is not necessary.

Review Format 3 - The Short Take

“Independence Day” is not a great film. The plot is basic and has flaws. The aliens’ motivations make no sense. The characters are thin and archetypal at best, cliched at worst. Forget logic or realism. There is no greater message or theme. There is nothing about this movie that would elevate it to the status of a great film.

However, this film never pretends to do anything else. It was always meant to be a “B” movie with a big budget. It follows in its predecessor’s footprints, which was also all about spectacle and action over depth and logic. This is the franchise where a 90s era Mac computer virus took down an alien mother ship, after all.  

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While it doesn’t live up to the first film, as the script lacks its charismatic one-liners and rah-rah speeches, this movie is still a rollicking good time. It’s got classic disaster pic tropes. It has wacky characters, cheesy moments, melodramatic characters. It has a top-notch visual effects team that makes for a visually interesting, if very familiar world, with wonderful action set pieces. It’s flashy, and most importantly, it’s fun.

If you go into the theater expecting something artistically powerful… then I don’t know why you’re going to this movie, really. It’s not for you. Did you even see the first one? But if, like me, you went in knowing what you were in for, and craving a little bit of light-hearted brainless entertainment, then I think you’ll leave with a smile on your face. I may not be able to call this movie “Great,” but for me there is no doubt about it, “Independence Day: Resurgence” is a…

Guilty Pleasure

If you want to know more about my rating systems, check out what each rating means HERE.

If you enjoyed this review, keep on reading for “The Long Take” and “Spoiler Talk,” and don’t forget to support me on Patreon!

Review Format 4 - The Long Take

I will not pretend that the movie has a great plot. There are loads of weird motivations and leaps of logic everywhere.Things don’t make “sense.” For instance, the alien’s motivations are as ridiculous as they were in the first film, if not more so. Also, the idea that we could rebuild all of our major cities and incorporate their technology effectively, within a mere twenty-year time frame, is utterly ludicrous. At least the macintosh isn’t our greatest weapon this time around.

The pacing was very slow at first, which, if I recall correctly, wasn’t a problem for the first movie. That one opened with the alien ships being spotted out by the moon. The issue I feel is that they had so much setup to accomplish. In the first movie, everything was normal on Earth. It was simply 1996 America. What more did you really need to know? For this film, Emmerich had to showcase all the changes that had come to Earthling society due to the technology influx.

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More than that, however, the movie was slow because they had to take their time introducing or reintroducing all of the characters, and there are so. Many. Characters. I don’t recall how many plot threads were in the original, but off the top of my head I recall about four or five. In this film there are about ten that occasionally intersect one another. I’m not exaggerating – I just counted.

Not only do all of these characters and their introductions slow the film down, their vast number means we don’t get enough time with any of them. A great many play bit parts, or are there to simply feed the audience information. For instance, one group of characters serves entirely to provide a countdown clock to doom as well as a couple of chuckles. There are also characters that are nothing more than distractions from the main plot and could have been dumped in favor of the time necessary to get to know and care about our main leads.  

Speaking of the lead characters, Jeff Goldblum’s David Levinson is the best by far, of course. He is the most experienced actor. At the same time, he is also the same Goldblum character we have seen in dozens of movies. Coming up behind David Levinson I was fairly interested in the wacky scientist, Dr. Brakish Okun, who got a lot more screen time this time around than the previous film. He’s an absolute cartoon character, but he’s fun to watch, and Brent Spiner seems to have a blast playing him.

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Liam Hemsworth follows up next with Jake Morrison, who seems to fill the stereotypical cocky fly-boy role, though he does have a minor arc as he wants to make up for a terrible mistake in his past that put animosity between himself and his former best friend, Dylan.

The filmmakers tried to give a little depth to Dylan, the son of Will Smith’s character from the first movie, but he was just so bland. I’m honestly not sure why they chose Jessie Usher to play him. The role really needed some charisma, even if he’s going to play a son trying to live up to his father’s legacy. It may not be Usher’s fault, but whoever’s it is, the character felt flat. President Whitmore’s daughter, Patricia Whitmore played by Maika Monroe, was alright and likable. She seems to be trying to find her place in the world and become her own person, even though at least half of what we know of her character is that she is Jake’s fiance.

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I say seems in all of these because while we get indications about their characters, each of them gets maybe one thing that “defines” them, and then that’s all we’re left with. Everyone else is as much a cardboard cut-out or even more-so. I don’t remember almost any of the character names (I had to look up everyone’s except for David). They fill roles in the plot and serve as archetypes, but they never become real people.  

Despite the vast number of characters, I did like the diversity! Recently, a large number of films have been criticized for their whitewashing effect, in which roles that could or should have gone to actors of other racial groups went to white people instead. I’m not commenting on that controversy here, but I will say that this film does a good job of involving lots of different types of people. We have a Chinese actress playing a fighter pilot, her character’s father whose actor is from Singapore, two African american actors, etc. It’s really good to see, and I’d like to see more of it across the industry.

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Speaking of that Chinese actress – they are really selling to China, ain’t they? They make a point of it early on in the film to call out China’s contributions to the fight against the aliens and the rebuilding efforts post-first-victory. This is yet another sign of how the industry is changing to focus on the global market, rather than just the U.S.

Really, depending on your tastes in film, there is still a lot to like in this movie. The design is commendable. I love the concept of taking the alien tech and incorporating it into our own. The look of the human future tech is pretty neat. It is alien enough to be clearly futuristic, but it also has a definitive human style. It’s a good melding of their technology with ours.

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About halfway through, I was struck by a thought that rings true to me. It’s a live action anime. I’m not saying it has big robots or schoolgirls. What I mean is that the tropes of anime storytelling are present. The characters are built the same way. The plot is not unlike many anime I have seen, and even the visual styling is similar. I could easily imagine the whole film, scene for scene and shot for shot, transformed into an anime and virtually nothing would have to change.

It’s also fun in the same way. There are many exciting moments with a lot of destruction, explosions, fight scenes, near misses, and big ol’ evil aliens. The visuals are cool, even if it never provides something as iconic as the original film.

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That last point is perhaps the biggest failure of the film in my eyes. As much fun as it can be at times, it doesn’t hold a candle to the first one in terms of iconic and memorable sequences. There is an attempt to make a moving speech, but it just doesn’t have the same punch as President Whitmore’s original Independence Day speech. No one will be quoting this one a decade from now.

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The visuals are impressive, but they are not appreciably different or interesting than the first time we saw them in “Independence Day.” Furthermore, landmark destruction is old hat now. They even add some meta commentary to it with the wisecrack about how much the aliens “love to get the landmarks.” Nothing here is new, and so none of it stands as high as the original did.

At the end of the movie there is a scene where the writers set up the possibility for a future film in a manner that is quite frankly way too obvious. It’s like the film was jumping up and down screaming “Hey! We want to make a third one!” I would have preferred it remain more subtle, and perhaps leave it for after the credits.

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Conclusion and Star Rating:

You already know that I view this film as a guilty pleasure. Nothing about it’s quality is really great. The acting is “meh” to good. The plot is overstuffed with characters and plot lines. It’s all meaningless. It’s all brainless…

…but I’d be a filthy filthy liar if I said I didn’t have a good time in the theater. I’m a sucker for disaster pics, old-fashioned fighting-off-the-alien-invaders science fiction, and anime-style melodrama. To me, at least, “Independence Day: Resurgence” is a “Good” movie.

3 Stars

Three Stars

Review Format 5 - Spoiler Talk

The original “Independence Day” is very special to me. It just screams of 90s childhood nostalgia, and the fact that this film hearkens back to those days probably makes me like this film more than I reasonably should.  Still, the more I think about it, the more I realize how it fell short of that first one. The first film had some heart-swelling human-pride moments, like the classic speech scene, the final desperate victory over the aliens, and the world-wide celebrations over the crashed ships. This film never had that kind of payoff. The first film made the individual aliens much more terrifying and menacing. The first film had more character and charisma. For all the Macintosh computer mumbo-jumbo, it had a sort of heart that really made an impression on me as a kid.

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Let’s talk about some of the characters. You know, I’m torn on the portrayal of African characters in this film. It’s a bit stereotypical that the character we see the most from them is a warlord. That said, the guy is a total badass, and I liked having him in the film. The Chinese actress is pretty, but she didn’t have enough time to really show off any acting chops. I would like to see her more in future films to see if she has what it takes to really make it. We need more high profile Asian actors in films.

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Dear lord, couldn’t they have just deleted David’s dad and the kids in the car and bus from this film? They all took up so much time and added nothing of worth to the proceedings aside from a chuckle or two. They weren’t the only characters who were needlessly included, but they were the prime examples.

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While the ending was hamfisted, I’m actually quite interested to see where they will take the franchise in the future. The possibilities of human’s jumping up the tech ladder all the way to interstellar travel is interesting in this universe. Yes, I want to see a third film.

When I said things don’t make sense, I mean it. Let’s just run through a few, shall we?:

  • I already noted how ridiculous and impossible it would be for mankind to rebuild in just twenty years, even if they found magical alien tech in the ships. Here’s a video that goes into just a little more detail than I did in regards that sad fact: AlternateHistoryHub’s Video
  • How on earth does it make sense that the aliens have fusion technology, but the molten core of a planet is how they power their ships?
  • The ships have their own gravity until they don’t, so we can see all the buildings falling on top of one another. Is it supposed to be a purposely generated gravity field? That’s the only way the on-off nature of the gravity makes any sense.
  • Wait, if they were still able to fly their big ship around after the queen died, then I assume that means there was at least one more queen present. If that is the case, why would the death of a single queen, from a single part of the mother ship, be enough to scare away the rest of them? That must have been only a fraction of their horde. If I were them, and I knew my only real enemy was sitting right there, I would have mobilized the entire army and all the fighter squadrons.
  • On the other hand, if that was the only queen, then how was the mother ship able to fly off without her?

I can’t think of any other spoiler-y or ancillary things to discuss. I can’t tell if it’s laziness on my part or if there was really that little worth talking about under the spoiler banner.

Either way, that’s it for now. Until next time!

     – Druidan

 

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2 thoughts on “Independence Day: Resurgence – Review

  1. Karalee says:

    Terrific review! I was wondering if this was a movie worth seeing

    • Druidan says:

      Personally, I believe so! It’s a fun time as long as you know what kind of movie you’re going in to.

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