By Michael Kaye
Indpendence Day: Resurgence (Review)
Can you believe it's actually been twenty years since the original Independence Day movie? I was pretty young at the time, but I vaguely remember seeing the trailers for that film, with the obvious standout being the White House explosion. Talks of a sequel have been happening pretty much since the first one became a massive hit at the box office, but only recently has there actually been progress. So here we are, twenty years later, with Roland Emmerich returning to direct and most of the cast reprising their roles in the much anticipated sequel Independence Day: Resurgence.
Here's the story. Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens’ advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction.
Let's be honest, none of these movies are great by any stretch of the imagination. They exist mostly to be showcases for big explosions, dog fights, and an on the nose message about unity. That being said, I love both these movies to death, and I do feel like they have plenty of merit to them in terms of blockbuster filmmaking. Here are my positives and negatives.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
First off, the cast does a solid job. I don't know how he does it, but somehow Emmerich manages to get top notch talent in all of his films, but especially Independence Day. Make all the jokes you want about him, I am a huge fan of Jeff Goldblum in this type of role as David Levinson, who has a great relationship with his dad Julius, played by Judd Hirsch. It's also nice to see Bill Pullman again, who I was convinced for the longest time he just fell off the face of the earth. My biggest concern with the film was how the newbies would fit into this universe, but thankfully they turned out alright. This is probably the first time I've ever liked a performance by Liam Hemsworth, who seems to be taking lessons from his older brother. As angry as I am that Mae Whitman did not reprise her role as Patty Whitmore, my future wife Maika Monroe was fantastic. I really hope she becomes a household name after this year, because she really does deserve it. Finally, Jesse T. Usher pulls off a miracle as Dylan Hiller, the stepson of Will Smith's character from the first movie. Smith unfortunately couldn't return to the franchise, but they did a good job honoring the memory of his character.
The best part about this movie was also the best part of the original, and that was the action. Say what you will about both Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich, but one thing they both excel at is staging memorable action scenes. Sure, Resurgence relied more heavily on CGI than its predecessor, but you can't tell me that the battle with the mother alien during the climax wasn't awesome. In fact, all the dog fights in this film were turned up to eleven, and we even got one or two James Cameron-inspired ground shots with the aliens infiltrating Area 51.
Finally, the score by Thomas Wander was pretty great. It wasn't really as memorable as David Arnold's score in the original, but it was nice to hear the main theme again. Sometimes the music can be a little bit manipulative, and sometimes it's completely earned, such as President Whitmore's triumphant return.
As far as negatives go, I don't have that many, but a couple things that need to be addressed.
First off, much like the original Independence Day, there is little to no balance in tone. Resurgence has a slightly darker edge than the original, but that unfortunately makes the sillier moments feel more out of place. Take Brent Spiner's character Dr. Brakish Okun for example. Why did he need to return? Does Emmerich just really enjoy working with him, so he jammed him into an already crowded cast? And as much as I loved Julius in the first movie, here he's not given much to do aside from babysit a bunch of abandoned children.
Second, I didn't wanna dwell on it for too long, but I have to know: why WASN'T Mae Whitman cast in this film!? I'm so conflicted about this because on the one hand, I do like both her and Maika Monroe, who honestly did a great job as Patty Whitmore. However, unless they had a very good reason, it makes ZERO sense for Whitman not to reprise her role. And don't gimme that "she's not A-list talent" bullshit because neither is Monroe. Unless you're a die hard fan of indie horror films like The Guest or It Follows, nobody has heard of Maika Monroe. If she was cast for her looks, that'd be even more insulting, as you're basically treating Mae Whitman like a real life DUFF, and that's just wrong.
Finally, this one seems minor by comparison, but I didn't think the constant sequel baiting was necessary. Yes, I'm aware that originally this movie was suppose to be two films shot back-to-back, but Fox only greenlit one movie. However, I'd be careful about making a promise that you can't keep, especially if this movie doesn't do so hot at the box office.
Independence Day: Resurgence is exactly what you were expecting from a sequel to a dumb popcorn film. The story's pretty simple and really only exists to service the action, which is the main draw of the franchise. The secondary draw is the cast, and both the old and new were great, even if some of them didn't need to be there. Overall, if you liked the original film, then Resurgence will be a fun time at the movies, otherwise I'd sit this one out if you're not on board.
Now it's your turn! Have you seen Independence Day: Resurgence, and if you have what did you think? Also, what are some of your favorite summer blockbuster films? Drop your thoughts in the comments below, and stay tuned for my next review, where we fight alongside Newton Knight against the Confederate Army in Free State of Jones!