Twenty years after the alien invasion of 1996, they’re back. A returning cast in Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman and Brent Spiner (though missing Will Smith) take the lead roles again in this epic worldwide blockbuster.
It’s a future whereby alien technology has revolutionized the way we live. The world is at peace and bases are stationed on the moon. We are armed to the teeth with defence systems but, strangely, fail to defend ourselves this time. As an audience, we’re told of a lone spaceship landing during the events of Independence Day. It attached itself to the earth in an attempt at digging through to the core for energy. This awkward, rewriting of events in its predecessor proves how it has forgotten why we enjoyed Independence Day in the first place.
Resurgence struggles to set up the many threads of its story from the get-go. We leap between teens in a car to a strained relationship between two fighter pilots. As enjoyable as it is seeing old characters return, in many cases it’d be more satisfying if they didn’t. Is it necessary to expand the role of Dr Okun (Spiner), so that he makes quips throughout the entire film? Does a strong, likable character from the first film need to be disposed of in the most CGI-obsessed and laughable scene? Even the young actors are the children we saw in Independence Day; but now grown up. As a sequel, it has a duty to continue and build on what has come before. Instead, Resurgence struggles to gain momentum at all. Remember, one of the enormous, rewatchable thrills of Independence Day was the first hour building up to the destruction of each major landmark.
Jeff Goldblum, though refreshing to see lead a summer movie again, seems to be playing a parody of himself. David Levinson, in Independence Day, was an environmentalist and anti-nuclear guy. Inexplicably, he rarely mentions these key attributes and plays government official, Director of Space instead. Honestly, I don’t think David Levinson would’ve taken the job. There’s also a war lord, famous for his alien-kills and shoe-horned in among the suited-and-booted military and White House officials. Nothing sits comfortably and very little seems natural.
There’s even a white spherical ball from another planet. It expands the story, arrogantly hinting at a Star Wars universe beyond Earth. Memo to the filmmakers: Independence Day was never Star Wars. We would see the horror of an alien invasion play out; we’d see the chaos and confusion of realizing that we’re not alone; multiple plans fail to succeed and, through luck, we stumble upon the answer. The fantasy of UFO’s suddenly smashing into our everyday lives was what we enjoyed. The recognisable fighter-jets, ploughing through sleek alien-ships, was what we enjoyed. The introduction of Will Smith summarised it all. Half asleep, picking up the morning paper, his jaw drops upon seeing the alien space craft hovering above LA. That was what was great about Independence Day.
Open warfare and enormous spaceships are welcomed, and this is sporadically satisfying. Especially as aliens moving and blasting laser beams is something we’ve not seen in the series. But to replace the fearsome spaceships that hover over each capital city ominously with one big Atlantic-ocean-size spaceship, clamped to the world, is a major misstep. Independence Day: Resurgence fails to even showcase grand set pieces that hold the same interest and intrigue.
Independence Day: Resurgence is a deeply flawed film that spoils the opportunity to recapture our collective rush of adrenaline that made Independence Day so memorable. It’s clearly a failed attempt at setting up a series. Thankfully, that should mean that the original will remain disconnected from this farcical effort at reviving this alien adventure.