Independence Day: Resurgence, directed by Roland Emmerich, is a loud, silly, chaos filled film. But you know what? Despite all the problems (of which there are a few) I still came out of the film smiling and having had fun. Yes, the film is going to make your eyes roll (more than once) but if you have the lowered expectations that should come standard with a film like Independence Day… well then you’ll have just the right amount of enjoyment. So let’s explore then many things that make up the film and see what is what.
20 years after the first alien attack, the threat has now returned and is even more dangerous. Despite David Levinson – played by Jeff Goldblum – and other scientists adapting the alien technology to advance Earth’s capabilities, nothing is able to prepare them for the unimaginably huge new threat that now appears. It takes old faces (characters from the original film) and new faces to come together and attempt to defeat the alien threat. It may also surprise you to know that in this Roland Emmerich film, a lot of landmarks are messed up, and a lot of people are (callously) wiped out.
So while I had fun with Independence Day: Resurgence, that doesn’t mean I didn’t find problems with it (of which there are certainly a few) and what I think might be one of the films biggest problems, is its split focus when characters are concerned. The film brings back characters for the first film; David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), President Whitmore (Bill Pullman), Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch) and a few others. Now what works with these characters is the fact that we’ve already had a whole other film to get to know these people. What I think was one of the achievements of the original Independence Day, was that it took the time to set-up and sufficiently develop its large cast of characters. Yes the building blocks of the characters were quite basic, but it was still enough to work with, in the grand scale of Independence Day.
So going into this film, we have enough to continue to follow along and invest in those characters. Here’s where the problem comes in: Independence Day: Resurgence, doesn’t take nearly enough time to set-up or develop its new cast of characters. Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher), Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe) etc. All of these new characters are the definition of one-dimensional. I couldn’t give you one defining trait that makes any of them stand out as memorable or noteworthy characters; a big part of that is due to the returning characters from the first film. Independence Day: Resurgence has to not only balance the old cast and the new, but it also has to introduce all the new story elements that the characters are then a part of.
What you get is a film that, for someone like me, is slightly rewarding because I get more time with those characters that I enjoyed in the first film. But new fans don’t really have anyone to gravitate towards. They don’t know who these older characters are, and they don’t have nearly enough to form a connection with the new ones. Newcomers to the film are the definite losers here.
Sidebar: Jeff Goldblum is great. I just had to drop that in here because… man. I just love the man and his unique delivery.
When it comes to the story in Resurgence, it’s a bit of a mess. Once again the film is heavily influenced by the first film, which again, is good for a fan like me, but newcomers won’t really understand much from the first act. But once the aliens make their grand entrance, everyone is on a level playing field. But that level playing field is a poorly paced and not a very well set-up location to be in. The film completely fails to balance all the elements of the film, and it results in a lot of things feeling rushed and underserved. The time between the aliens showing up and all hell breaking loose is minuscule, and then the subsequent attacks by Earth are barely explained, and lack any of the intensity or thought that seemed present in the first one. This is also partly due to the lack of characters to route for. I found myself looking around for Jeff Goldblum most of the time, as I knew he’d save me from the bland characters.
I just spent quite a bit of time tearing the film down, which I don’t want to continually do. Despite me having a lot of issues with the film, I still did enjoy many other things about it. One of the things in particular was just how good the film looked. From the destruction, to the alien ship, and surprisingly I also didn’t mind the CGI aliens; I’m a lover of practical effects, and the first Independence Day was chock-full of them. But when it comes to this film, I understand why they chose to rely so heavily on CGI. The scale and the amount of things that are happening on-screen are insane. The scene where the alien ship covers a massive portion of Earth, and then digs its destructive legs into its surface is a scene of crazy magnitude. I’m not usually a fan of disaster films and all the scenes of destruction that comes with them, but in this one I actually didn’t mind them; partly because they were done quite well.
Something else I enjoyed in the film is also something that filled a lot of the first act, and that was getting to see how Earth evolved after the first attack. We get snippets of information that reveal some really interesting stuff. I mean, getting to visit South Africa and discover that its people were stuck in a terrible ground-war with the aliens (for some time after the events of the first film) is in my opinion, pretty cool. That’s a film that I’d watch.
Independence Day Resurgence is a difficult one because there are massive glaring issues with the film, it can’t be denied. But there is also some enjoyable stuff to be gained from the film. I think what might be one of the most important things for me to consider, is how I felt when I left the cinema; I was happy with what I had got. I already had low expectations for the film, and I think that it met those expectations, and slightly exceeded them. Sure, in the grand scheme of it all, this film wasn’t really necessary, but unlike other recent sequels that weren’t needed (*cough* ‘Jurassic World’ *cough*) I came out of the film not feeling offended or betrayed by what it added to the overall franchise.
I think when I consider everything, I’m going to recommend Independence Day: Resurgence. I can see quite a few people disagreeing with that, but ultimately, I enjoyed my time with the film. Except for the lack of Will Smith, there is a giant Will Smith shaped hole in this film for sure, but hey, you can’t have it all I guess.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Independence Day: Resurgence, so please feel free to leave them in the comments down below. If you’d like to keep updated on my other ramblings, you could either follow this blog directly, or follow me over on Twitter – @GavinsTurtle. As always, thank you for taking time out of your day to read this, it really means a lot.