Roland Emmerich continues down his merry path of destruction by getting his first big budget sequel. However instead of trying new things and revamping the formula he has beaten to death over the past 20 years, he gives us half a film of confusion that sadly reminds us all that the original was better and that Roland is out of ideas.
Released : 2016
Runtime : 120 minutes
20 years after Earth (read Murica!) successfully fought off aliens with a computer virus, they return clearly having watched all Hollywood sequels – going for more of everything in the hope that if they throw enough shit at us, something might stick. Oh how Emmerich of you aliens!
The Disasters Faced
Aliens, gravity, space battles, huge tentacle things, other aliens trying in vain to warn us, the fact everyone is 20 years older and has a what are we doing here?” vibe on their faces and anyone who finds out they are related to Dylan Hiller – as you know you’ll be dead quite soon.
This is exceptionally harsh but Independence Day Resurgence is possibly one of the biggest let downs in its execution in a big budget movie in recent years. The majority of the main cast return in some guise – some clearly getting way more screen time over others. This is great but there is a distinct old versus new cast going on and the two sides do not merge particularly well in their style or approach with almost all the new cast members trying to replace Will Smith’s character but all of them lacking the charm to do so. Whilst they all try to out macho each other with some of the worst dialogue written this year, Jeff Goldblum runs rings around the rest of the main cast with his twitchy to dead pan delivery. Bill Pullman spends 90% of his role acting like a homeless man and that’s a shame to see his character brushed aside only to come forth when its convenient and Judd Hirsh’s character is barely seen at all. Vivicia Fox has about two scenes and her character is given no respect at all. Brent Spiner returns as crazed scientist Dr Okun whom we all thought died last time out and is so very watchable but also he causes a continuity problem that is rabid in this film. It essentially rewrites the ending by saying certain things were left unsaid and so the whole premise is off to a shaky start. There’s too many characters doing too little and being given the absolute minimum to work with and its a crying shame. Even 2012 gave us some emotion to deal with!
When things do get going, the action sequences themselves are messy and confused. There’s a pool of great ideas and nods to previous films that all come off worse than when we saw them before. People die off-screen, or barely on it. Characters seemingly have emotional arcs off screen that we don’t see in the pursuit of pilot shooting action but as there’s no heart in the story – why should I care? I also feel painfully sorry for the character of Rain whom must put up with the worst pick up lines from the cheesiest man alive – yet because Hollywood they’ll fall in love.
However one of the biggest flaws is that it ends at the half way point as we’re off to the final battle. Think the second Hobbit film where it ends in the completely wrong place. That film was guaranteed its ending – this is not – so it’s difficult to see it as a complete piece of cinema. It’s like a parade of things you could have had from a better film that’s teased to come and once I had personally finished the film, it left a bitter taste in my mouth.
One thing Roland films do exceptionally well are the epic scale single shots and some of the destruction sequences are fantastic. There just isn’t very many of them. After that it’s a war film gone askew and whilst there’s some lovely footage and queen alien has some really fluid motion, it doesn’t wow me like the destruction early on does. I would also say though that the Moon specific sets look really nice and the merging of alien and human tech is an under explored theme throughout even though it looks pretty.
Why It’s Worth Watching
Jeff Goldblum, Brent Spiner and Judd Hirsh all act their socks off to make the best of what they’ve got. Everyone else is fine but the Deus Ex Machina moments are too silly in a world that doesn’t quite know what tone it’s going for, that I didn’t care too much about most of them. It is telling that all the deleted scenes were the quieter, more emotional stuff and whilst hardly long scenes, they’d have fleshed a few people out better. Elsewhere some of the effects are very good and the President is given a decent moral dilemma to deal with which I thought was quite interesting and well handled when a different alien race comes along. Is everyone hostile?
Every time you are reminded the original Independence Day done it better. Even the original speech is mocked here.
Even though it’s utterly stupid, Dr Okun is a great character and it’s lovely to see him back. It’s also interesting to note he is part of a very low-key gay subplot which I had completely unnoticed as I just thought they were friends for the majority of the movie!
The entire queen alien chasing a school bus sequence. For someone who is going to take over the world, it’s like she decided to go hell-bent on trying to squat the tiniest fly ever to be seen by the naked eye. Failing that, any scene where the character Charlie speaks. That poor actor must have cried to sleep at night.
After being given a $165 million budget and only pulling in $103 million initially, it will be interesting to see after Roland remakes his skewed classic Stargate (I do like the original film) if he will be allowed to do Independence Day 3. Will anyone want it after the generally negative reaction to this one?
An utter mishmash of good intentions and poor delivery make this painful to watch and enjoy as all it does is hint at how things could have been better. I will not hold my breath that 3 will be any better but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the goofy but mindless joy of the original.