Title: Independence Day: Resurgence
Release Date: June 24, 2016
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Roland Emmerich
Release Format: Theatrical
Being my first PG-13 movie, I have fond memories of watching Independence Day back in 1996. Maybe it was because I was going through a phase where I enjoyed anything about aliens (like the X-Files) or maybe because I saw giant explosions. It was one of my favorite movies growing up. Fast forward 20 years later and director Roland Emmerich has made a bigger name for himself. With critically panned spectacles of 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow, Emmerich is going back to one of his earlier films by making a sequel to it. Was it worth the wait? Well, only if you enjoyed Independence Day you might get a rise out of Independence Day Resurgence.
The movie takes place exactly 20 years after the events of the first film (which coincidentally was when it came out). With Earth unified, everyone is preparing the Earth’s defenses for a possible new alien attack. Despite warnings from Dr. Levinson and former President Whitmore, the preparations weren’t enough. The story for the most part is nothing special. You don’t go into a movie like Resurgence expecting the best possible story ever written and best film award material. You see movies like Resurgence for its action and humor (if any).
That isn’t to say Resurgence has a fun story. There are tons of nods to the first one and though these nods like a few jokes regarding character history, you might not understand them if you saw the ’96 film. For those who haven’t seen the ’96 film, you might just get lost in general. Yet, the film felt fun. Unfortunately, it is in Resurgence’s third act that makes the movie suffer the most because of trying to catch so much nostalgia.
There was one scene in particularly, that tries to recapture the grand speech by President Whitmore from the ’96 film. This time, it is coming from a new character, General Adams. It didn’t capture the feel of Whitmore’s speech from ’96 and falls flat. If anything it might remind you of Battle: Los Angeles, from a few years ago, which was mediocre at best.
Another issue with Resurgence lies in its cast. William Fichtner is one of those actors who I find to be a monotonous slog. He does have his moments in some films he is in, but Resurgence was nothing special. Fichtner isn’t bad per say, but he wasn’t great either. Liam Hemsworth brings some laughs, but again he shows why some might consider him to be the lesser of the Hemsworth brothers. Then Maika Monroe. Surprisingly she isn’t as good as her performance in It Follows. She didn’t seem to be trying and at times, her performance was laughable (the way she ran for one). That is a shame because I have high hopes for her as an actress.
A few of the original cast do make a return in Resurgence. Jeff Goldblum is back as Dr. Levinson, Bill Pullman as President Whitmore, Brent Spiner as Dr. Okun, and a few others make appearances. They help bring in the nostalgia feel of Resurgence and probably are what helps save the movie a bit. Goldblum still has his charm, as now Doctor, David Levinson. He has a smaller role than previous films, but he has just as much screentime. Then there was Brent Spiner as Dr. Okun who is NOT dead after all. He was in a coma. Dr. Okun brought in a lot of Resurgence’s comic relief and actually delivers on it. There were parts where he could have gone wrong, but he came out as one of my favorite characters and probably will come out as yours as well.
Bill Pullman as former President Whitmore though, felt like he was just there because he needed the work. His character became more of Randy Quaid’s from the ’96 film and a cliché PTSD who helped drive a plot forward. He wasn’t bad. Just felt pointless.
With a cast that was filled with either hit or misses, a story with a bloated third act, even the thought of a sequel shouldn’t be in your thoughts after seeing Resurgence. Yet they are. One of the biggest sins of Resurgence lies in one of the most obvious set-ups for a possible franchise. Trying to segue into a third film might not have been a great idea. Resurgence tries regardless and makes the film’s story suffer from it.
Besides Spiner, Goldblum, and the first two acts of Resurgence one of the saving graces lies in its special effects. Roland Emmerich knows how to make a destructive spectacle. Unlike 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow, Resurgence felt more of a mix between practical and CGI effects. Yes, it was mostly CGI, but Resurgence still captures the look of the ’96 film. Independence Day still holds up after 20 years and Resurgence closely resembles that.
Overall, Resurgence falls in line with sequels that might not have been worth the wait. Independence Day didn’t need a sequel to begin with but we still got one. With trying so hard to recapture the nostalgia, the film almost completely falls flat. It does have it’s saving graces but they aren’t enough to bring the movie up in quality. A movie shouldn’t just be based completely on nostalgia and humor. There needs to be great storytelling, character development. Emmerich unfortunately just did not recapture the grandeur of ’96.
- Characters: The characters aren’t the problem in Resurgence. It is just that it sometimes hard to actually care about them.
- Cinematography: Don’t go in seeing Resurgence thinking you are going to see some of the best cinematography ever. The action sequences though are smooth and don’t get jumbled with the heavy use of CGI. Recaptures some of the feels of the ’96 film.
- Story: Resurgence tries to ride the nostalgia feel throughout the story. This hurts it, but that doesn’t mean there are moments where you will laugh and enjoy it. It is mainly the 3rd act that feels a bit bloated compared from the other half. Trying to force a franchise doesn’t help either.
- Acting: Acting is mediocre at best. There are a few standouts though with Brent Spiner returning as Dr. Okun and Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Levinson. William Fichtner seems to try too hard to capture Bill Pullman’s personality from the ’96 film.
- Brent Spiner
- Bloated 3rd act
- Some acting
- Tries too hard to segue into third film