Full disclosure, I didn’t actually like the first Independence Day when it was first released. Back in those mists of time I was in my late teens so my tastes were dark and gritty (sound familiar DCEU fans?) so the campy disaster movie themes of Roland Emmerich’s space smash were utterly lost on me. Thankfully, over the years I got over myself and appreciated ID4 for the rather charming blockbuster it actually is.
So now, 20 years later, the aliens are back (talk about being fashionably late) with a mother ship the size of the Atlantic, hoping to grab some of that nostalgia-dollar that Jurassic World managed to snag about a year ago.
Well hopefully it doesn’t bloody get it because Independence Day: Resurgence is sodding awful.
Emmerich has been doing this for a long time now. He’s thrown various disasters at various cities and he’s no stranger to Sci-fi either (Stargate is probably his most satisfying movie) and yet somehow he’s churned out a movie so insipid, that the whole experience turns out to be a mahoosive black hole, sucking the fun and live out of a concept that should’ve been a home run.
The problems are riddled everywhere, script, acting, dialogue… I realize no one is coming to this movie expecting Oscar worthy efforts, but at least have fun.
The rot sets in almost immediately with an alternative present where the human race has reverse engineered alien tech to make a better life for ourselves… well, a better life for the military, actually. While everyone is flying around in fighters and helicopters with cool glowy green engines, the rest of us mugs are still queuing for petrol on the ground. Why the alien tech hasn’t been made readily available is just one of the curious points the movie ignores.
Characters new and old are shuffled out although few register. The timeless Jeff Goldblum is always good value for money, even if his line reading dial seems to be stuck on the “Adam West” setting. Bill Pullman staggers in on a walking stick he doesn’t actually need (seriously, check the first film. Nothing happens to him that would require a walking stick) and sporting a beard from the 2016 “frail old man” collection, spouting doom warnings like Fraiser from Dad’s Army (either Pullman is REALLY good at acting broken or someone needs to call him a cardiologist, like yesterday). Brent Spiner wakes up from a 20 year coma and instantly is drafted in to fill the overexcited gay man role vacated when Harvey Korman bought it in the first one. Judd Hirch (looking not a day older, amazingly) returns as Goldblum’s father, spends almost no time with the other cast and is only there to pull off a “Dad?!?” recation joke that requires 40 minutes of screen time to set up. And I hope Vivica A. Fox got paid a lot for her non-role, although her graduation from stripper to midwife proves that it’s not just glowy green engines that’s stepped up it’s game in twenty years.
The new guys barely register at all, save Liam (The Lesser Hemsworth) Hemsworth. He seems the only one of the younger generation who actually gets what he’s appearing in and acts accordingly. However his character seems oddly unnecessary when it hits you that his entire plot arc would have more sense if given to the character of Will Smith’s son (who isn’t very good and has nothing to do). Other characters fall into excruciating comedy foil mode making you pray that the aliens drop a building on one of then but to no avail.
The effects (the real star here) are impressive, it’s not everyday you see the Burg Khalifa dropped on Tower Bridge, but still doesn’t match the fire wall from the original. The also film seems obsessed with coming up with cool concepts but frustratingly, never actually uses them. An alien prison, a 10 year ground battle between African warlords and alien ground troops, a refugee planet of alien survivors being trained to combat the invaders, the aliens having a full working ecosystem in their ships. Any of these, if expanded upon would have made for a more exciting movie than what we got.
However, after all the shite that’s gone before, the finale pulls the movie out of it’s terminal nose dive for the last 20 minutes with a Kaiju sized alien queen (complete with giant ray gun) chasing a school bus around the salt flats. It’s almost seems like Emmerich, now bored with remaking ID4 had just decided to have another crack at Godzilla instead (at least he gets THAT right this time).