"We've gotta remind them Earth is not for the taking."
So given the recent results of a certain referendum it may either be prophetic or strangely ironic that I’m reviewing this today, you decide. I will say that if the actual quality of the film matches the quality of the decision made today, we’re in trouble.
Twenty years after the devastating alien invasion, in a world where humans have incorporated the abandoned alien technology with their own equipment, the extra-terrestrial threat returns with greater numbers and heavier weapons. Can Earth’s defences withstand a second round?
It’s an odd world where the primary target demographic for a film were not even alive when the previous instalment was made. Though it’s not the first time a franchise has been revived after a lengthy hiatus it seems like even fans of the 1996 movie are confused as to why the sequel as even been released, and are teenagers still that familiar with ‘Independence Day’? It must have been impressive in its day but the years have not been kind, and its cliché ridden, corny plotted, effects heavy appeal doesn’t have nearly the same effect as it did back then.
That being said, it’s a fun movie and I don’t think anyone would deny that. That’s actually not true but as far as mindless popcorn entertainment goes, one where you’ll laugh, be excited, won’t have to think too much and will leave with a smile on your face it’s hard to beat. I mean for starters it has Will Smith punching an alien in the face, secondly it has Bill Paxton as the best movie president ever or was it Bill Pullman (that’s the guy who would truly make America great again) and of course it has the one and only Jeff Goldblum, and every movie is improved with the inclusion of Jeff Goldblum. Even ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ for that matter.
Whereas like its predecessor ‘ID:R’ relies on massive spectacle and the allure of summer movie season to draw in audiences, there is a distinct and worrying emptiness to it all. Whereas the first one was a deeply flawed and by no means a perfect (or even exceptional) movie, it had a pulsating energy as well as a sense of fun and humour as it flew through its increasingly nonsensical plot. ‘ID:R’ takes a surprisingly long time to actually arrive at any form of action or fun for that matter, almost two hours in fact. It’s a bizarrely sombre affair, one that lacks any visceral thrills, charming charisma or innocent humour of the original.
Which is somewhat astounding considering how it manages to retain all of the corny dialogue and overstuffed visual effects of the first one. The dialogue of this film would have worked terrifically in the early 1990s, today not so much. Meanwhile the CGI is less of an effect and more of an attempt to overwhelm the senses by throwing as much as it possibly can at them. They don’t have weight or depth to them, it’s just stuff flying about on the screen.
Let’s talk about the cast though, because while the likes of Goldblum (who is by far and away the best thing about this movie) and Pullman (or Paxton) reprise their roles comfortably the new arrivals don’t sink in quite as well. Smith’s absence is sorely felt and it’s not compensated for by his character’s son played by Jessie Ushe. It’s hard to decide who is more bland and dull, Will Smith’s movie son or his real son. Yeah, am I right? If you think that was mean then can I direct you to ‘After Earth’ which is indefinable proof that such a statement is not only not mean but also 100% factually correct. Liam ‘Not Chris’ Hemsworth is essentially just playing his usual type of character. It’s not bad by any means but it’s not exactly good either.
Is this all to say ‘ID:R’ is on the same level as say, a Michael Bay ‘Transformers’ movie? No, for starters it doesn’t contain any deep rooted cynicism or contempt for its own audience. There is some fun to be had with this movie, maybe two or three times I found myself chuckling. There is such a massive overabundance of characters that it’s hard to really get attached to anyone, in fact it’s literally impossible. So as a result I was not invested within any of the action, they could have destroyed the entire world and I would not have cared at all. Except (spoiler) they don’t, what we get instead is one of the most ham fisted sequel set ups I’ve ever seen, so we have that to look forward to. I’m sure ‘Independence Day: Rise of the fall of the returning dawn awakening of justice’ will be hitting a cinema near you in 2036.
Overstuffed and overblown, yet somehow shockingly empty.