Movie Review - Independence Day: Resurgence
By Matthew Huntley
July 7, 2016
Independence Day (1996) is not a “good” movie per se, if you know what I mean by “good” movies. It's cheesy, predictable, silly and gratuitous. Plus, it plays on ethnic and racial stereotypes and recycles a lot of the traditional alien-invasion formula that dates as far back as 1938 when Orson Welles broadcast War of the Worlds on the CBS Radio Network.
All that said, Roland Emmerich's once record-setting blockbuster remains a modern and much adored classic. All the things I've “criticized” about it are the very reasons most people, myself included, still have a lot of affection for it. It's the epitome of fun, mindless entertainment.
Now, 20 years later, which, by Hollywood standards, equates to about 10 lifetimes, the same filmmakers bring us Independence Day: Resurgence, and it's all the things its predecessor is, only less. It too is not a “good” movie, but it's not a bad one, either. It's simply unnecessary; although that isn't to say it doesn't have its moments and that I didn't leave the theater with a mild affection for it. But its appeal is limited because we get the impression that as the filmmakers set out to recreate the first one's magic, they merely copied it. They probably felt that after two decades of fans wondering if there would ever be a follow-up, simply delivering the same thing would be enough. Unfortunately, it isn't, because even by fun, mindless standards, we need something more original.
The plot can be summed up rather easily: “They're baaack.” Or rather, “They're awaaake.” Twenty years after their 1996 invasion, which left most of Earth in shambles, the same alien race has returned and is on a vengeful path to once again destroy all life on our planet. Their new arrival coincides with the prisoner aliens from the first picture, who now reside in Area 51, suddenly waking up from their catatonic state and “celebrating” because it means potential freedom. The aliens are once again after Earth's core, which, for reasons that go unexplained, fuels their ships and advances their technology. We eventually learn from a “friendly” alien race that the “bad” aliens have been carrying out strikes on other civilizations for thousands of years and the one happening now, on Earth, will be the latest. That is, unless the human race can does something about it. And, to quote the original, humans are not about to “go quietly into the night.”
Speaking of quotes, Resurgence has a whole fresh batch of chintzy one-liners that I'm sure the screenwriters were hoping would join the ranks of “I'll be back,” “Roads? Where we're going we don't need...roads,” and “Now that's what I call a close encounter,” to become classic sci-fi sayings that would one day make the movie instantly recognizable. But it seems too self-conscious about doing this, as if it's something it has to do. The same goes for the plot, which doesn't flow naturally. We watch it as it merely runs through a checklist of events the filmmakers probably felt they had to incorporate in order to appease fans instead of coming up with something more innovative.