When Independence Day hit theatres back in 1996 audiences were blown out of their seats by the amazing practical effects that film had to offer, they were caught up with a charismatic cast that pulled off the right amount of drama and comedy, and it had Randy Quaid yelling, “Hello boys, I’m back!” before blowing up the alien mothership. Twenty years later and all of that is missing. This is a case of a sequel being released well passed its best before date, and the advances in special effects do more to harm than good. Instead of beautifully constructed models being blown to smithereens we get overcrowded computer generated graphics that look like unused effects footage from X-Men: Apocalypse. Overall there is not much here for either fans of the original or new viewers stumbling upon this lame franchise attempt.
With that all said let’s get down to the nitty gritty and see just what the hell happened. Beware there will be spoilers…that is if it’s possible to spoil this piece of space debris.
Twenty years after the events of the previous film we find that Earth has become a peaceful planet and everyone is sitting around singing, “Kumbaya my Lord, kumbaya.” We quickly learn that even though world peace has been achieved mankind has taken the alien tech that crashed and created the ESD (Earth Space Defense), a united global defense program that serves as Earth’s early warning system. With a moon based laser cannon, and jet fighters than can operate in space, Earth is ready for the aliens to return. In my opinion that is one very optimistic view of what the countries of Earth would do if a bunch of sophisticated alien technology had fallen into their laps.
I’m betting that if such an event as ID4 had occurred there would have been a mad scramble to collect as much of that tech as possible so as to get a leg up on their neighbors, and that’s only if those country’s economies had somehow magically survived after having most of their cities and populations wiped out. Wars would have quickly broken out over the chance of obtaining such military upgrades, and trying to feed and house millions of refugees would lead to internal fighting as well. Sure mankind was briefly unified against an alien threat, but any student of human nature knows once that immediate threat is over its back to fighting amongst ourselves, but now they’d be able to do it with new and improved weapons.
And right there you have a pretty good premise for a second installment in a hoped for franchise; mankind drags itself out of the wreckage of their homes, countries erupt into fights over this alien tech that’s just lying around, heroes on both sides fight for supremacy for their respective countries, and then during the final act the aliens do return.
Hell, this sequel even teases us with a movie that we should have gotten ten years ago. ESD Director David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) meets with African warlord Dikembe Umbutu (Deobia Oparei), a man who had been fighting a ground war with the aliens who had survived the failed invasion. This guy had apparently spent his entire life taking on the alien threat with a couple of large machetes in hand to tentacle combat, and all I can ask is, “Why aren’t we watching that movie?”
Instead of focusing on a man who was raised by a brutal warlord, who watched his family die in a decades long and ruthless battle with an entrenched an hostile alien force, we get this “Legacy Heroes” crap about young hotshot pilots who are mankind’s last line of defense; starring “rebel without a clue” Jake (Liam Hemsworth) or as I like to call him “Not Thor,” an orphan of the initial attack who is in love with the former president’s daughter (Maika Monroe) who for some unknown reason is playing not being played by Mae Whitman from the original. Jake is the “bad boy” who lost his spot in the Air Defense League for almost killing fellow trainee Dylan Dubrow-Hiller (Jessie Usher), the stepson of Will Smith’s character, in a training exercise.
Note: We get one line explaining Smith’s absence, something about him dying well testing a new fighter based on the alien tech. So gone is the charismatically fun Will Smith, off filming Suicide Squad and ducking Emmerich’s calls, and in his place is a character that is so bland, and so poorly acted, that whenever he isn’t on screen you forget he exists.
Dylan’s entire motivation in this movie seems solely about punching Thor’s Brother in the face. Why the filmmakers thought a movie about an alien invasion needed drama between two supposed “badass” military heroes who just “Can’t get along” is beyond me, and worse is the fact that this subplot literally goes nowhere. Speaking of subplots that go nowhere; also returning for this movie is David’s father Julius (Judd Hirsch), who somehow survives riding a mile high tidal wave aboard the S.S. Minnow.
He’s later discovered, long after we assume he rightfully should have died, by a group of orphans. This ragtag bunch of misfits find a school bus full of more children and they all decide to take a road trip to Area 51. There is so much screen time wasted on this character it’s beyond comprehension; we first meet him reading excerpts from his book “How I Saved the World” to a group of people at an old folk’s home, but then there is no payoff to that joke. He doesn’t save the world this time, he doesn’t actually do anything but deliver tired one-liners. Of course he isn’t the only one delivering tired one-liners, we also have Dr. Okun (Brent Spiner) who has awoken from his twenty year coma when the aliens return. And he’s all about the cheesy one-liners.
Dr. Okun isn’t the only one affected by the returning aliens, former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) is one of many people having visions of a strange circle with a line running through it. This becomes relevant when a huge spherical ship pops out of a wormhole next to the moon. The world leaders immediately become alarmed, and as it looks like the Borg Sphere from First Contact I can’t blame them. Everyone wants to laser blasts the thing into oblivion before it has a chance to attack, but David believes this is a different alien race, and that they shouldn’t attack unless provoked. The World Leaders ignore David and they destroy the craft. *Bullshit Screenwriting Alert* This is all just so that David can be proven right again. In the first film he warned the President that the massive ships hovering around the world were not friendly and were going to attack, and he was right. Now he tries to tell the President (Sela Ward) that these aliens could be friendly, and he’s of course right again.
David teams up with Jake, who is your standard movie hero who disobeys the rules to “Get the job done,” and they fly out to investigate the destroyed spaceship. They discover inside it a large white sphere that looks like the child of an Apple computer and the robot ball Sphero. And inside that sphere is the sole surviving alien being from a race that had evolved passed the need for physical bodies, and he came to Earth to help with the evacuation when it was discovered that the evil aliens were on their way back, but then we went and shot him with our space canon. Hey, we all make mistakes, unless you are the awesome David Levinson who is never wrong.
Director Roland Emmerich is under the false impression that bigger is better. Independence Day: Resurgence goes for more global wide destruction than we got in the first one, but then it fails to have any characters for us to give a damn about. The best CGI in the world cannot create tension and suspense if you don’t have anybody worth worrying about. Emmerich doesn’t even go with just making the destruction scenes bigger, he also gives us an alien queen who is danger of being sued by the Cloverfield monster. As if somehow a kaiju sized monster in your final act would make up for all the lacklustre action we’ve had to suffer through up till then.
This is a two hour movie that felt like three. The returning cast members failed to bring back the charm of the original, and the newcomers were bland and almost universally terrible. The big action sequences were basically CGI clusterfucks that would barely be intelligible if we cared about what was going on in the first place, which we don’t. That they intend to make this a franchise, with our heroes going off to fight the aliens on their home turf, is ludicrous. This movie will be lucky to get a spin-off straight-to-DVD animated movie.
Final Thoughts and Questions:
• Randy Quaid was the actual hero who saved the day in the last film, but his son does not appear as a Legacy Hero. Did President Trump have him deported prior to this movie?
• We see David Levinson hitting on a fellow scientist, but we never find out what happened to his ex-wife from the last movie. You know, the one he spent all that time trying to get back together with.
• Dr. Okun wakes up after a twenty year coma and immediately starts running around, because muscle atrophy is apparently a thing of the past.
• Once again it seems alien aircraft are easily hotwired.
• Yet at one point our valiant heroes find their stolen craft being remotely controlled by the aliens. Which begs the question; how the fuck did they steal them in the first place if that’s a feature?
• They do eventually break free of the alien’s remote control, but they still have no way of steering them, so they have to do a controlled dive at the alien queen. Yet somehow they still manage to pull out of the dive and continue the attack instead of just crashing into her. How did they magically regain the ability to maneuver the ships?
• President Whitmore pulls a Randy Quaid and flies his bomber straight into the Queen’s mothership. This fails to kill the Queen making his character, and this portion of the film, completely pointless.
• We learn that the aliens came to Earth originally to steal the planet’s core. Why they pick populated planets, ones that have the ability to put up a resistance, is beyond stupid. Is Earth supposed to be the only planet in the Universe with a core?
• When the alien queen is destroyed the drilling ship, which was one minute away from destroying the planet, turns off its drill and leaves Earth. It does not lose power and crash like the ones in the original film did, no this one just leaves because their CEO died and I guess they were afraid they wouldn’t get paid. Alien unions are tough.