Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) Dir. Roland Emmerich
20 years after defending the earth from a first wave invasion, ID4: 2 (which only I am labelling it) picks up with humans utilising the aliens’ technology to create a defense system in the hope of preventing further extraterrestrial attacks. As you would expect, this idea is pretty useless and a second wave that has superior firepower descends upon the planet to wreak further havoc on landmarks across the world.
The “plot” mainly focuses on the government’s plan to destroy a new mothership – and to be fair – there really is not much else. No character arcs come from the mish-mash of sub-par stories interwoven with each other, as Emmerich always does, and nothing has any weight or much consequence.
That said, this flimsy premise does have some positives going for it. It is funnier than some comedies – sometimes with it, often at it, but mostly this was in a dumb-fun cheese-fest way. The real serious problem comes from a lack of “a” Will Smith but not necessarily Will Smith per se. He was dumped after ludicrous pay demands but Resurgence is in desperate need for someone to centre the film. The triumvirate of Smith (pilot), Goldblum (scientist) and Pullman (President) kept things on track in the original but no such dynamic exists here. There’s new characters like Warlord Dikembe Umbutu (a first-draft stereotypical African name you’d expect to be jettisoned before shooting) whilst Tesco-value Hemsworth (Liam) is Joe ‘Hot Shot’ Average. Jeff Goldblum is back as David Levinson, and sleepwalks through a facsimile of his previous scientist roles and Judd Hirsch returns as his Jewish stereotype, and given the most ridiculous scene in a series of ridiculous scenes as his small tugboat outruns a giant wave.
Brent Spiner is resurrected and simply awakes from a coma and his “death” in the previous film never once mentioned. In many ways, I enjoyed this bold-faced ret-con – i.e. the film is already so preposterous one more stupid idea won’t hurt. Finally, what William Fichtner and Charlotte Gainsbourg are doing in this nonsense is anyone’s guess and everyone else is so unmemorable they barely deserve a mention.
All this is a side-show for the CGI battles however. I saw this film in the X-Plus (and 3-D) format with a fantastically projected big screen and even bigger sound and I have to admit I was impressed. The CGI was convincing – so easy to get wrong these days – and so often a particular bug bear of mine. Seeing this film on the largest screen possible is the only way to see it in my opinion, as the size and scope of the alien craft/battles are eye-hurtingly good and battles have a theme-park ride quality to them.
The main driver of the film is a “kill the Queen, the rest will fall" trope – which again is a cliché seen so often it’s almost never used these days but the film got me back on its side with an amusing scene which sees the Alien Queen galloping across the desert. The stuff of brainless blockbusters, the well-designed monster with multiple protruding appendages was entertaining as were the additional sequences involving more alien interaction than the film’s predecessor.
[BIG SPOILER]. A few days earlier, I had watched the first ID4 as a catch up and from only seeing the trailer to Resurgence I proposed that the bearded President Whitmore would play a Randy Quaid role – that of slightly mad man whose previous alien encounter is key to the story. My guess was this would eventually lead to the ultimate sacrifice. And as if by uninspired magic, this played out exactly as prescribed.
If you enjoy uber-destruction scenes, then the great CGI and immense sound could help overcome the (many) flaws the film has. Silly to the point of enjoyment, if you jettison any requirement for narrative and accept the characters are the broadest of clichés then you’ll leave the cinema with a sci-fi smile. It’s a forgettable film as you’ll ever see yet I found myself warming to its daft antics. The most expensive b-movie ever created, I enjoyed it a lot more than Emmerich’s 2012 and the recent San Andreas so if you want hare-brained action, laughable characters and startling CGI battles then the film will definitely provide some Saturday night thrills. For the rest of you, the obvious and uninspired clowning around is probably best avoided.
Midlands Movies Mike