‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ Review
From contributing film critic Andrew Gaudion
Twenty years ago, Roland Emmerich established himself as a purveyor of destruction with Independence Day, a film which beckoned a new era of blockbuster marketing (it was one of the first films to have a Super Bowl spot). The first Independence Day typifies 1990’s Hollywood cinema. It is an effects-driven spectacle with an appetite for destruction, corn-ball characters, and big crowd pleasing moments of victory. It is remembered very fondly, in part due to its endearing performances from a star-forming Will Smith, the deliciously deadpan Jeff Goldblum and the stoic Bill Pullman, delivering one of the most memorable speeches in movie history. Yet, it was never a film that ever called for a sequel. It may have been the second highest grossing film of all time upon release, but over the years no one has ever truly expressed demand for a sequel, unless your names are Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin.In the two decades that have followed the extra-terrestrial attack upon planet Earth on Independence Day 1996, the human race has pooled all of its resources into developing an interplanetary defence, adapting the alien technology for their own gain. Earth, it believes, is fully prepared for another such attack. On the 20th Anniversary, the efforts of the human race are put to the test, as a new invasion is set upon the Earth. Soon it becomes clear that the planet is once again underprepared and out-gunned in an event that could once again trigger their extinction. It looks like an ingenious plan is needed once again.
There are a lot of very interesting ideas to be found within Independence Day: Resurgence. Seeing how the world has reacted to an alien attack, and what 20 years of time has allowed in terms of world defence. However, the film never truly allows us to bask in the ingenuity of what has been developed, just choosing to demonstrate that our aircrafts looks sleeker, we now have a forcefield, and a big gun on the moon. It is all glazed over in favour of cloning the 24-hour structure of the original, leaving us with a terribly paced movie that is never too sure of what it wants to be.
Resurgence has five writers credited, and it is very apparent. Many sub-plots and certain ideas feel like grander plans from a different screenplay, simply demoted to a detail in the final piece. Whenever the film is at the threat of becoming interesting, like in an early moment when commanders in chief struggle with a decision to fire upon a UFO, it quickly tracks back, refusing any intelligent idea in favour of an idiotic one. This, along with far too many subplots, sets the film up for a big fall.Despite the fact that the overall tone is very playful, it is nonetheless frustrating to see such potential on a screen squander, particularly when it decides to simply stick to the original playbook, something which makes the whole enterprise incredibly exhausting. As a result, much of the plotting relies on big threat, quick plan, bigger threat, quicker plan. There is rarely room to breathe as the film aims to cram in all the events it contains. While Emmerich remains very capable at constructing scenes that do undoubtedly fill us with awe in regards to spectacle, it all feels much more juvenile than the last time, the playful tone often undercutting any semblance of tension.
The first Independence Day typified the breed of original action-packed movies that embraced the highest of concepts; think Speed (1994), Demolition Man (1993) and Face/Off (1997). Its sequel typifies the most irritating features of the modern blockbuster. The terribly placed franchise baiting (who really needs an Independence Day franchise?), bored performances, and simply a lack of respect for the intelligence of its audience, all come to bear in this off-the-mark sequel. For all its promises of an intergalactic journey in another sequel, a future for this franchise simply doesn’t interest me, and I believe audiences will react similarly.(2 / 5)
(Photos copyright: Stereo D, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)