2016 is looking like the year of unnecessary sequels. With Zoolander 2, Absolutely Fabulous and Jason Bourne all coming out this year, it’s cementing the old, tired adage of Hollywood not having any new ideas. But, here we go, with another film that’s over twenty years old getting a sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence.
Independence Day: Resurgence stars Jeff Goldblum, Liam Hemsworth, Maika Monroe and Jessie Usher and is directed by Roland Emmerich. Set twenty years after the first film, the aliens that Earth defended against come back, with more resolve to destroy the planet this time.
I wasn’t that big a fan of the first Independence Day. I’m not a fan of disaster movies in general, I find them boring for the most part. So it was with great reluctance that I went to see Independence Day: Resurgence (titled in the great tradition of “Name of film, colon, ominous sounding word beginning with RE”). I’ll try and be professional about this, but I’m just calling my biases out beforehand, just to be open.
You would think if it was a film set twenty years after the original film, they might add in some new characters. While they do put some new characters in, they are all intrinsically linked back to the older characters, most of which look like their coming back for the paycheck. The problem with having so many characters though is that none of them get enough screen time. Most of the new ones get only the basest of character development, where something could have been added, especially to Jessie Usher’s character, who is the son of Will Smith’s character from the original. The older characters as well have script issues, with going from rivals to best friends without anything in between.
The abundance of characters leads me onto the second problem I have with the film, the editing. Not in a camera/cinematography way, more in terms of the story. Independence Day: Resurgence suffers from “The Phantom Menace Effect”. The Phantom Menace‘s last third switches from tragedy to comedy to action too quickly, the emotional tones of the film are all messed up. Independence Day: Resurgence has this same problem in its final act. It jumps between six different scenes, each with differing emotional changes, with the film feeling inconsistent at best and jarring at worst. It’s even worse when people start dying, most aren’t given proper due, so it feels anticlimactic.
The only really shining light through all of it is Jeff Goldblum. He has some funny lines (which really is saying something, this script is full of weak jokes and “comedic” characters) and he looks like he’s having fun while everyone else is just there. But that’s Jeff Goldblum, you get what you pay for. It would have been better if Will Smith had returned though. His double act with Goldblum is one of the reasons why the first Independence Day is loved and I think that it would have supplied a lot of the charm that is missing.
If you are looking for a film filled with mindless fun then you’ve come to the right place. Roland Emmerich is the guy who directed The Day After Tomorrow, 2012 and White House Down, along with the original Independence Day. If anyone knows how to create big explosions on screen while supplying a melodramatic and cheesy script, it’s this guy. But sadly, Independence Day isn’t that good a film. It just stands there, lamenting it’s glory days, saying “Hey kids, I was kind of great once.”
Score: 4/10 Big, loud, CGI-filled, but just not that fun or memorable.