‘I’ ON CULTURE
Some sequels are clearly made simply to make some more money, and Independence Day: Resurgence is so bad that it could be a precise reflection of that fact. The first movie was fun. No one knew what was coming. We had the delight of watching Jeff Goldblum figure out what was happening and work his way to the president to convince him of the problem. We had wise-guy dialogue between Goldblum and Will Smith, as the hotshot young pilot. Of course, we knew humans would win in the end, but the trip was fun.
The trip in this movie is not much fun at all. In the second film, there is an alternative history for Earth where the past 20 years have been filled with peace (now, that idea could lead to a good movie, although the producers might not know what to do without huge explosions), although the world’s armed forces have been preparing for an alien return. This time, though, we won’t see loads of people welcoming the invaders so they can get blown away. Also, the White House doesn’t explode.
The world is afraid of a new invasion and has spent a fortune melding alien technology with its own to create wonderful new weapons. As expected, none of them really work that well. So, just like in the original, it comes down to a handful of smart and quirky (who knew that quirky was a survival trait?) people to figure out how to take down the “mothership.”
Many of the same people are back. Goldblum is David Levinson, now in charge of Earth’s defenses, instead of being an outsider as before. We get a quick scene with his father Julius (Judd Hirsch) that goes nowhere, but reminds us they had a cute relationship in the first film.
President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) is still around, rather gloomier than before. His daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe), last seen as the little first daughter, is now a fighter pilot being courted by two other pilots, Dylan Dubrow-Hiller (Jessie Usher), son of the dead hero from the first movie (Will Smith wisely refrained from picking up an easy paycheck from this bomb) and the anointed hero Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth). Dr. Okun (Brent Spiner), the alien expert from the first film, gets a nice cameo as well. They have to take down a ship that’s 3,000 miles in diameter. And, of course, there is no doubt they will.
The problem is that with all the characters doing reprises, none of them actually gets a chance to do very much. The film spends a lot of time trying to get us to remember the first, but mostly it just made me sad. The people in the first seemed like real characters; they were fun. Watching the president suiting up as a fighter pilot was great.
The dialogue between the anti-war Goldblum and fighter pilot Smith was also excellent. I remember them sitting inside the alien ship taunting the aliens and joking with each other. And that was 20 years ago! I don’t remember the lines, although I do recall Smith’s incredulous stare when Goldblum turned down a cigar because it might be unhealthy as they were sitting trapped in the middle of the alien ship. This film took all that fun away. No one said anything worth remembering.
What is left are many battle scenes that are, frankly, not very entertaining. We don’t have the many almost-off-the-street citizens who know how to fly and are ready to die for humanity. We have trained, alien-fighting soldiers, and most are boring. Watching old-time planes going up against alien technology is fun. Watching the overly modern stuff going bang-bang is like watching other people playing war games on an Xbox. Even worse, when the target is the size of the United States, all sense of scale is lost. There were a lot of explosions. Do not, please, ask me to remember any of them.
None of the actors won any glory. The actors doing reprise roles from the first had to know they were in it only for the money. The young actors did what they were told to do, but none of it required any real acting.
In short, skip this flick. If you go, you deserve to get your money back with perhaps a bit extra for this one ruining the memory of the first film. This could have been a good movie if they spent a bit of the special effects budget on a real script.