“I’ve had years to get us ready. We never had a chance.” This line, pulled directly from the trailer, describes this film to perfection.
As the Fourth of July nears, satellite engineer David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) investigates a 3,000-mile-wide mother ship that’s approaching Earth. Fortunately, 20 years earlier, nations across the world started to use recovered extraterrestrial technology to develop an immense defense program. When the alien invaders attack with unprecedented force, the U.S. president, teams of scientists and brave fighter pilots spring into action to save the planet from a seemingly invincible enemy.
Twenty years ago, audiences were treated to one of the most rah-rah, rabidly patriotic films to date. Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Randy Quaid, and Jeff Goldblum saved the world from a race of aliens, hell-bent on destroying humanity and thieving the earth of it’s resources. Was this a masterpiece of american cinema? Not exactly, but was it a crazy fun rollercoaster ride, complete with insanely overblown theatrics, and perfectly timed one liners? Hell yes! Roland Emmerich’s adventure blockbuster captivated moviegoers the world over with nonstop action mixed with manipulative emotional tie ins and a steady dose of movie stardom plastered all over it’s run time. What the original Independence Day did, was create an atmosphere conducive to unbridled fun. It was an event film, so when a sequel was announced, an entire generation collectively lit up for what could be. Then the first trailer hit, and we realized who was in this film, and the doubts set in. The concern surrounding Emmerich’s resurgence became justified as the opening frames rolled across screen. The rest just feels like a bad dream that you can’t wake up from.
The original Independence Day moulded how we view the modern blockbuster. It was as innovative as it was goofy, but it had this veritable charm and palpable charisma, stemming mostly from a script supercharged with fantastic one liners, and massive set pieces equipped with spectacular destructive computer generated explosions. The film followed the traditional story arc, it had a beginning, middle and end. Now twenty years later, in the most disingenuous of ways, Hollywood intends to rip away childhood memories from an entire demographic by serving up reheated meatloaf in the form of Independence Day: Resurgence. The movie we have waited twenty years for, is not the movie we were given, nay, subjected to. This is the most heinous of cash grabs, shamelessly praying on the nostalgic effect it’s title brings with it, without bothering to even attempt a cohesive or intelligible story.
From its opening frames, Resurgence regurgitates used lines from the original film, and from then on it continuously panders, pathetically so, to fans of the original, but does those fans a massive disservice by giving them a lazy and uninteresting product. The trailers tried to play up the nostalgia by making sure the marketing planted the idea that we will have the pleasure of seeing some familiar faces, save for Will Smith. Even Smith’s character’s death was anecdotally referenced in the trailers, only to realize that was the extent of his acknowledgement in the film. What we were not necessarily privy to from the advertising, is the extent to which these familiar faces would appear. The sad truth is not that these characters were diminished to gratuitous cameos, because they weren’t (except for Vivica A. Fox, who appears in an offensively brief bewildering cameo). Contrarily, these characters all had significant roles, it’s just that they were reduced to boorish monotonous plot devices, devoid of any possible charm that could have lagged through from the original.
Even Jeff Goldblum, who is literally charm and charisma incarnate, was implausibly unsatisfying, as he was forced to adhere to one of the absolute worst scripts in recent memory. Bill Pullman could not have been more hammy. Former president Whitmore, was truly a caricature of disturbing proportions, and his story arc was so absurdly incoherent, it was cringe-worthy. Perhaps, whats more egregious than the laughable performances of over the hill actors looking to reignite their careers in this clearly “for the money” endeavor, are the laughable performances by the actors who were brought in to supersede the former cast who had returned, and to subsidize the ones who had not. First mistake is the casting of Liam Hemsworth in a prominent role. Yes this is the Hemsworth brother who, time and again, has proven that Chris kept all of the family talent for himself. Resurgence is not the exception to the rule, and Hemsworth is particularly nauseating in this overblown lifeless mess of a film. Jessie Usher, who plays Will Smith’s son from the original (although you might remember that Will Smith was his stepfather, and there was no explanation for the kid magically having Captain Hiller’s last name), is as hollow as they come. It’s unclear if his poor performance is talent based, or a product of a truly terrible script, that is borderline incomprehensible in it’s ineptitude. With Hemsworth and Usher, it appears to be a combination of both, but with Maika Monroe, who has displayed serious chops in genre films like The Guest, and It Follows, it is clear that the writing is fallible and redundant.
This movie is as poorly written as it is terribly acted. Emmerich was once the wizard of the blockbuster. This is a man, who has indelibly ingrained the imagery of the White House, Empire State Building, and other major American landmarks being destroyed in a blaze of glory. He was the creator of the pinnacle blockbuster, the most epic of summer event films and now, he is the director of an epic let down, that listlessly panders to fans searching for reminiscent good feelings, and in a play to make more money, the Chinese market. This film shamelessly bows to our a far eastern allies, making sure that they are referenced as an indomitable culture seemingly superior to the rest of western civilization. Which there is nothing wrong with, but there is a subtlety that should be merited when doing so, and Emmerich knows nothing of subtlety and never has. In an effort to gain some traction and reveal some original thought, Emmerich and crew elect not to repeat the landmark destruction and instead provides us with a head scratching scene that would see an ocean sized spacecraft, with it’s own gravitational pull pick up an entire country and drop it on another country. This reprehensible nonsense is just one of the many plot holes that are inserted gleefully in an attempt at originality, and it becomes cheap novelty instead.
This is a film content to provide absolutely no emotional attachment, with feeble characters and shallow arcs that offer no satisfaction. It is impossible to care for the well-being of characters when the story seems resolute in it’s manipulative emotional incompetence. There is no sense of urgency, even with the grandiose destruction that came with the 3,000 mile wide spaceship landing on the atlantic ocean. There are no consequences or residual negative effects. It seems as though half the earth is reduced to ashes in about an hour and there is barely a mention of the mass destruction and none of the certain hysteria. The original movie did well to manufacture some dread with a genuine threat, that created widespread panic which was depicted in the film. Resurgence was so petrified to merely duplicate the effect of the original, that in an attempt to out do it’s predecessor, fails to reproduce the same feelings we got from it.
This is a one of the most disappointing sequels in cinematic history. The climax of the film shoves together all the ambiguous plot devices in hopes to create a rational storyline, and instead muddles up an already convoluted movie, filled with one outlandish deus ex-machina after another. This is an exercise in futility, and is insultingly perfunctory. The humor peppered throughout the film is meant to duplicate the fun of the original, but instead is hampered by poor timing, and terrible writing. Resurgence is one of the most unoriginal depraved attempts at paycheck cashing garbage we have, and are likely to see. What is unmistakably unforgivable is the simple fact that above all else, this movie is unapologetically dull. It has the paint by numbers approach to action blockbusters, and has long stretches of clumsy editing and terrible dialogue. This is a movie better suited for a sunday matinée on the Sci-Fi channel. This is a cataclysmic fiasco parading as nostalgic filmmaking, hoping that audiences won’t be smart enough to realize just how truly and completely awful this shell of a film is. This is what is wrong with modern Hollywood, and will likely serve as the demise of the summer blockbuster. The studio ups the ticket prices, while lowering the standards and delivers a derivative, poorly constructed joke of a movie, that will actually have you questioning your love of the original, which is the worst of it’s many pitfalls.
0.5/5 Not Cool Bro