REVIEW: “Independence Day: Resurgence”

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It’s hard to believe it has been 20 years since the release of “Independence Day”. I still remember that summer of 1996. ID4 was a big deal. A fantastic marketing campaign stirred up a ton of interest and when the film was finally released audiences weren’t disappointed. ID4 was a big, silly, science fiction romp that essentially redefined the summer blockbuster. It also represented a huge leap forward in CGI technology and featured some of the most memorable scenes ever created of movie mass destruction. It opened the gates for a slew of other disaster movies that would follow and its eventual sequel some twenty years later.

ID4 worked simply because it was fun. The pure spectacle was something to behold and unlike anything of that time. Most importantly it embraced its silliness and its cheesiness was part of its charm. Now flash-forward to “Independence Day: Resurgence”, a remarkably dull sequel devoid of any of its predecessors charms. Director Roland Emmerich returns along with co-writer and co-producer Dean Devlin. Both tapped into something good back in 1996, but their follow-up is a testament to how far blockbusters have fallen in terms of quality and ambition.

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“Resurgence” spends a lot of time hearkening back to the first movie and milking that connection for all it can. Minus a few fun bits of nostalgia, it doesn’t do much to help. Perhaps twenty years is too long ago. Maybe people have simply forgotten these characters. Personally speaking I had no hankering for a sequel. But problems like that can be squashed if you have good story to tell. “Resurgence” has nothing new to say and its redundancy along with a complete lack of inspiration makes it pretty tough to endure.

The cliché-riddled story is pretty basic. A now unified earth has created a global defense force to protect us from any potential alien attack. How do you think that worked? A 3,000 mile-wide alien mothership (that’s stupid in itself) crashes through our atmosphere and attaches itself to earth in order to harvest our planet’s core. Thankfully we have a team of the best fighter pilots, scientists, and ex-presidents to put up a resistance. None of them are the slightest bit interesting, but they do put up a resistance.

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It’s hard to say what we get more of, scenes of CGI or horrible lines of dialogue. It’s a close race. And of course we get the obligatory destruction of cities and the killing of millions of faceless people (poor London…isn’t it always London?). Sure, some of the visual effects look really nice and that’s where a bulk of its bloated $165 million budget goes. But it’s nothing we haven’t seen a million times by now and with nothing in the story worth clinging to, the effects ring hollow.

Speaking of hollow look no further than the characters and the performances. It may be a bit unfair to slam the cast when the material is this bad. There is line after line of cringe-worthy dialogue and nearly every character is firmly rooted in one stereotype or another. The cheesiness isn’t charming because the humor is so vapid and not a single relationship feels authentic.

Independence Day Resurgence

Then you get to the actors none of whom seem completely convinced of what they’re doing. Liam Hemsworth plays a poor man’s Maverick from “Top Gun”. Jessie Usher is shockingly bad as the fighter pilot son of Will Smith’s character from the first film (Smith wisely said “no thanks” to this one). Even the always enjoyable Jeff Golblum is handcuffed by the shoddy script. Bill Pullman, Brent Spiner, and Judd Hirsch also return for a paycheck while none of the newly added twenty-somethings offer even a hint of fresh energy.

“Resurgence” flounders out of the gate, never shows an ability to build suspense, and offers up some of the most uninteresting characters I’ve seen in a while. Its CGI looks good but over time slams against your senses like a wrecking-ball. Maybe if this film went further into the “Sharknado” vein of intentional goofiness and absurdity it could have worked. As it is, “Resurgence” bored me and left me wondering if this was the best they could come up with after twenty years?

VERDICT – 1.5 STARS

1.5 stars

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37 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Independence Day: Resurgence”

  1. This is why I’ve refused to spend any kind of currency on this. If I see it, it’ll have to streamed on something I already have…and when I’m feeling masochistic. 😉

  2. This has got to be one of the worst major releases I have ever seen. Although I’m not even sure if you can really honestly call it a ‘major’ release because I’m pretty sure after its opening night this thing tanked at the box office. I didn’t expect the sequel to one of the most nostalgic blockbusters ever to be good, and Resurgence was impressive insofar as it managed to be even worse than what I was thinking it would be. Good on you for putting yourself through this….

    And there’s supposed to be a third. I wonder how that plays out now.

    • It’s bad…really bad. I lost count of how many cliches they used. And I was literally talking to my television screen saying “you really just said that?” There are several phoned in paycheck performances and none of the young “stars” impressed me. As for a third film… I would be stunned to see it happen now.

      • I just cannot fathom a third installment. It would be beyond pointless after the failure of this one. However, I can’t say I’d be too surprised if someone attempted it in the next decade ha

      • Ha, you may be right. I just wonder if they will put another $165 million into it? I would think the studio would need to be convinced the next film was going in a much different direction.

      • Agreed. I think my biggest issue with this one was how many characters and story lines it tried to balance. It was an overload. If they could minimize that and get a story worth telling who knows!

      • That’s a good point and something I didn’t talk about in the review. It was a bloated cast. Way too many people and not enough time to make them all interesting.

  3. The original was really a lightning in a bottle thing. I haven’t seen the sequel yet, probably will when it hits HBO or something. From the very first trailer it never acted like it gave an inkling of being more than a hope of cashing in on nostalgia. I know Star Wars just did with The Force Awakens but that was because it had to get its audience back after the prequels. They wanted more and better. No one asked for this. We were all happy with the first and watching it on Saturday afternoon tv when it’s on.

    • So true. I don’t know anyone that was a lobbying for an Independence Day sequel. And you’re exactly right, this thing felt like it was riding on nostalgia alone and after twenty years i’m not sure enough people even cared. Definitely don’t feel like you need to rush to see it.

    • Sigh…I know. You did but I kinda felt obligated as someone who was caught up in the excitement of the original. But it was every bit as bad…again, sigh!

  4. I’m with you, Keith. I couldn’t stand this thing. It somehow managed to make such catastrophic and explosive action completely devoid of energy. I’m dreading the inevitable followup that they so blatantly set up at the end.

    • How is this all they could manage? One of the weakest scripts I’ve seen in a while. Absolutely no imagination and nothing the least bit compelling. Ugh…

  5. I will pick up on one point, though.

    You mention the blockbuster genre’s lack of ambition? I’d give this film all the ambition in the world, only it lacks the talent to back that up. 😉

    It’s amazing to me how far Emmerich has fallen since the giddy days of Stargate and ID4 – the man could practically do no wrong. Now he’s condemned to make cookie-cutter disaster films or nobody-sees-them biopic films like Anonymous or Stonewall. I think the man has talent (or at least visual flair), but he has increasingly shown an inability to capture the zeitgeist the way he did in the early days. Maybe ID4 was a fluke?

    • I didn’t find it ambitious at all. I thought the story was so cliché riddled and I failed to see any interesting new idea. For me it was a lightweight rehashed story mainly built around a ridiculous amount of CGI. And the film seemed pretty content with it.

  6. It’s Liam Hemsworth’s fault 😛 I haven’t seen this Keith, though I LOVE the first movie, but when they cast Liam I was like, meh. I might check it out if it’s on Netflix, but sure as heck ain’t gonna pay to rent this.

    • I really liked the first one too, but this movie misses out on all of the things that made the first one great. It isn’t funny. It isn’t fun. It is an exciting. It’s one long dull bore. Skip it!

  7. Hi, Keith:

    Thank you for seeing this. So we didn’t have to!

    The first ‘Independence Day’ was a fun romp. With scenes never seen before wrapped around an updated, CGI heavy ‘Earth vs. The Flying Saucers’. While this latest venture has the distinct reeking aura of ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ mixed with the bad story, plot and graphics of that latest turd in a punch bowl, ‘Fantastic Four’.

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