Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)

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“What goes up most come down.”

After twenty years of dormant hibernation, the aliens are back bigger and better than ever before. And in full-disclosure, I sort of wish that they finished the job this time around. Independence Day: Resurgence is less a sequel or a long-awaited continuation than it is an deja-vu filled eyesore, retelling the exact same story in a forceful, meaner language with hopes we don’t pick up on the uncanny similarities. While it raises some interesting and topical ideas, ID:R becomes another doomsday debacle whose only means of survival is relying on a desperate desire to stick to the formula. In this instance, the aphorism is tried without being true.

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Things have changed in the world. Revolutionary technology has been borrowed from the invaders. All parts of the globe have agreed to a universal peace treaty. As far as setups go, ID:R depicts a pretty favorable portrait of the future. Then David Levinson (Jeff Golblum) notices outreaching alien activity, Madame President (Sela Ward) authorizes a strike, and from there it’s an all-out onslaught. Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher) leads the resistance in the air, filling the shoes of his deceased father. Hiller begrudgingly works with Han Solo wannabe Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth); he dates grounded pilot Patricia Whitmore (Maika Monroe), daughter of the former President (Bill Pullman). Resurgence buries its promising storylines beneath a bunch of convoluted crap. It’s a potluck full of so many characters and tangents that none gets to contribute his or her own worth to the party.

Cheesy one-liners, dopey eyed devotions, strained yells pulling on a steering wheel. Resurgence does all of the bad things a big blockbuster movie can do, and yet, so did the first entry. The difference comes down to execution. The 1996 film made its clumsiness part of its charm by way of its performances, in particular a star making charismatic turn from Will Smith. Now that same weight is placed on the shoulders of a cocksure Liam Hemsworth and it flat-out tears the movie in two. He is a weak actor playing a role with no background info, making it impossible to match the type of likable space cowboy we saw from Smith two decades ago. Hemsworth has leading man looks without the talent to justify his many high-profile roles. The rest of the cast isn’t much better.

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Roland Emmerich is a forefather residing in the Mount Rushmore of the modern disaster flick. Here, he maintains a decent sense of balance, even has some promising set designs. Those are the highmarks in a film that should otherwise serve as his eventual comeuppance though. With Resurgence, he mocks the very genre he helped institutionalize as the apex of Summer cinema. The story’s copied and pasted. People get out of cars to see destruction, aliens are sucker punched, and in a cheap meta-twist Dr. Levinson says, “they like to get the landmarks” as London Bridge comes falling down. This chapter doesn’t choose to end with the same nationalism or worldwide harmony as the original. Emmerich opts for the promise of intergalactic war, the humans upgrading from hunted to hunter. Either way, ID:R is a lazy, chauvinistic piece of nostalgia ridden bait hawking “once more unto the breach, dear friends” for dummies. Don’t buy it.

“We’re primitive?”

Rating: 1 out of 5

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