It makes my blood boil the way people crap on Independence Day with faint praise. It’s as if the god of film punditry shouted down from the heavens, declaring that if you liked the movie, you don’t know jack squat about film.
That’s why a lot of contemporary critics, bloggers, columnists, etc. say that they really liked the movie…but they throw in additional commentary such as “You need to turn your brain off to watch it because it’s not a great film” in order to save face.
Guess what: movies aren’t made to be analyzed. They’re meant to be an escape where you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the show. The original Independence Day was a thrill ride that wowed movie goers everywhere.
Independence Day: Resurgence did nothing of the sort so feel free to crap on this film all you want because it doesn’t even deserve the faintest of praise. As a big fan of its predecessor, this is a shame because I really wanted to like it, however, as my wife and I walked out of the theater, we couldn’t help but point out all the flaws that are impossible to overlook, whether you’re “turning your brain off” or not.
One of the many things that made the original film so good is that every moment was given enough time to allow it sink in so the emotional impact would resonate to the desired result. ID:R moved at a quick 120 minutes while jumping from set piece to set piece. It’s as if the writers and director Roland Emmerich sat in a room and purposely set out to give each moment no more than what they felt was the minimal amount of time for each scene to set in.
The film starts off by checking in with Bill Pullman’s former President, Thomas Whitmore who’s been experiencing visions of the aliens, which have left him old and ragged, with no explanation as to why the telepathic link to the alien left such a lasting and negative impression.
The audience then meets an all grown up Patricia Whitmore and Dylan Hiller before getting properly reunited with the former President. The same thing happens with the two youngsters as Liam Hemsworth’s ESD (Earth Space Defense) hotshot pilot, Jake Morrison is introduced. And before you know it, yes, the same damn thing occurs when Jeff Goldblum’s David Levinson is brought back into the fold. Of course, before anything is allowed to sink in, the story, which is full of the most conveniently placed plot points allowed for the aliens to return twenty years later to take their shot at destroying the Earth.
Now, we all knew the aliens would come back, otherwise there is no movie, however, there was no explanation as to why it took them so long to return.
There is this little quip about the alien’s technology not advancing after all this time. It was painfully obvious that the line was only put in the script to explain why the ESD pilots were able to get a handle on it so quickly, which didn’t make sense because if they saw the same 3000-mile wide spaceship as the audience, it was obvious that the aliens have new toys in their toy box. THEY HAD A GRAVITY WEAPON.
Another thing the first film did so well was establishing the global scope of the alien’s devastation. Washington DC, China, England, Area 51 and the Moon might as well have been neighboring towns who get together every Friday night to watch their high school football teams play one another.
When Earth gets put through the ringer this time around, the audience is thrusted into the crisis mid-stream. There was little to no set up that showed the look of fear on people’s faces as they ran for their lives. Speaking of people, the new cast were given by the numbers characters with none of the heat and soul that made us care about the original cast the first time around.
Those who were upset with 20th Century Fox for snubbing Mae Whitman, who played Patricia Whitmore in the original film, for model turned actress Maikia Monroe (It Follows, The Guest), can breathe a sigh of relief. Mae Whitman dodged a bullet. The new President and her cabinet left so little of an impression that killing them and/or keeping them around made no difference. Except for the character who served as Levinson’s political aid. He was completely annoying instead of the misunderstood bumbling idiot of an administrator he was supposed to be.
Will Smith was sorely missed. His absence showed how much charisma he brought in 1996 as there was a complete void of anything remotely resembling humor here. None of the jokes came close to sticking their landing and were more intrusive than anything else. Jeff Goldblum was the best thing about the film and triggered the much needed and welcomed nostalgia, but his star didn’t have to shine too bright in order to stand out in this utter mess of a story.
All of the original characters are in much different stages in their lives, but with the exception of Levinson, none of their journeys is explained. I hope this isn’t considered too much of a spoiler, but some of the OG characters perish, and it was infuriating to watch because their deaths were either completely wasted and glossed over with zero regard for what their legacy means to the “franchise.”
Besides Goldblum, there were a couple of good things.
The CGI was really, really good. Unfortunately, it was such a disaster fest on screen that most of the visual effects got lost in the shuffle. There was a mention about how those who were orphaned due to the attacks in 1996 don’t seem to hold the same human currency as those who were not. That would have been something interesting to dive into, but the subject was never touched upon again. The final battle in the third act was fun to watch unfold, even if the screen was cluttered with CGI, however, something that occurs puts a mighty big black mark on the whole deal.
I truly wish I wasn’t penning this review, but Independence Day: Resurgence doesn’t deserve a quarter of the 41.6 million dollars it made over opening weekend. This is the epitome of a cash grab that has zero regard for what fans loved about the original.
Hopefully, this crummy sequel will go quietly into the night and vanish without a fight.
Written for and published by Forces of Geek July 2017