Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)
Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 2 hrs.

Release Date: June 24th, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Roland Emmerich Actors: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Jessie T. Usher, Maika Monroe, Sela Ward, William Fichtner, Judd Hirsch, Brent Spiner, Vivica A. Fox, Angelababy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Nicolas Wright

 


 

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wenty years have passed since the alien attack on Earth left national monuments in ruins and millions of people dead. But from that devastation came newfound unification and otherworldly technologies. When sudden, odd occurrences and renewed alien activity make spontaneous reappearances, Earth Space Defense director David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) heads to Africa to investigate the only spaceship that landed during the 1996 hostility. As a strange mechanical orb materializes near a lunar base, the world leaders, including United States President Elizabeth Lanford (Sela Ward), agree to shoot it down, assuming it is a new act of aggression from the decades-old enemies. Shortly after, another ship – stretching more than 3,000 miles long – uncloaks near Earth and descends towards the surface, causing massive destruction to many major cities. As the aliens’ antagonistic intentions become apparent, Levinson, along with surviving lunar defense station lieutenant Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), Legacy Squad pilots Dylan Hiller (Jesse T. Usher), Charlie Miller (Travis Tope), and Rain Lao (Angelababy), and former President Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman) devise a desperate plan to end the alien incursion.

It has been 20 years since the release of the first film, and that same 20-year lapse for the events of this film. Amusingly, the residents of Earth have utilized all the alien weaponry and technology left over from the “War of ’96” to exponentially advance their own capabilities. The extremely strange thing about incorporating this into the story is that, even though the picture is set in 2016, it’s a futuristic, incredibly sophisticated alternate reality; it’s not the Earth with which viewers are familiar. This is unimaginably detrimental for the establishment of sincere feelings; every mission, every casualty, every political or military maneuver seems like something out of a space opera. This is not the Earth that audiences saw not only get razed back in 1996, but also successfully defended in the face of an alien invasion. What a jolting, ineffectual way to distance moviegoers from the tension and thrills of an extraterrestrial occupation; it’s as if these interstellar conquerors were overthrowing some foreign planet inhabited by humanoid doppelgängers.

This, of course, is why a sequel couldn’t be easily shaped around the scenarios in which “Independence Day” left things at its conclusion – with the world in shambles and giant spaceships crash-landed into every megalopolis across the globe. It’s been 20 years in the making, but it’s 19 years too late. Normally, after all this time, it would be fun to see many of the returning cast members pop up for brief cameos, but here they actually become annoying. If the first movie had far too many characters, this follow-up is utterly drowning in extraneous roles. Alongside the familiar faces of the former ensemble are new family members, government goons, soldiers, scientists, warlords, advisors, sailors, and even random survivors (mostly children), all given enough screentime to be significant. Unfortunately, the way in which they’re used is anything but worthwhile. The young cast of heroes is so pathetic (the dialogue is some of the very worst of the season) that audiences will be begging for swift alien onslaughts to dwindle the surplus of protagonists.

Perhaps the most interesting idea, though only partially developed, is that poorer, third-world nations – like some areas of Africa – did not simply benefit from alien technology. Instead, they’ve been fighting a 20-year war against the hordes of monstrous drones that spilled out of downed vessels, learning to combat a superior opponent with inferior resources. Apparently, there was no worldwide union of societies to lift them out of poverty and conflict. But this notion is a bit dour, and so “Independence Day: Resurgence” brushes past it, to focus instead on bigger ships, bigger annihilations, and bigger shadows (there’s something undeniably awe-inspiring about the sheer massiveness of the “harvester” crafts). But, since the problem is still the same, the solution is about the same as well. Rousing speeches have turned into sobbing whining or the crazy ramblings of senile old men; waves of fighter pilots are interchangeable, indistinguishable, and entirely forgettable; and all of the exhilaration or movie magic of interspecies warfare has transformed into boring blurs of lights and fireballs. With any luck, it’ll be another 20 years before viewers see the likes of the third film.

– The Massie Twins

  • 2/10