No one asked for an Independence Day sequel. In fact, I’m sure that if there was a poll sent out to moviegoers asking which 90s blockbuster they never wanted to see get a sequel 20 years later, Independence Day would have been near the top of the list. However, that didn’t happen and director Roland Emmerich had a few unsuccessful movies in a row. So now, out of sheer desperation, Independence Day is back and boy does it ever feel like a movie that no one particularly wanted to make. Sloppily written, pedestrianly executed, and completely lacking in any sort of personality or nuance, Independence Day Resurgence is the braindead waste of time and talent that everyone assumed it would be. Yet perhaps worst of all, the movie isn’t even ironically amusing in its braindead excesses. Nope, this is just an annoying, empty shell of a sequel that offers nothing but the lowest common denominator. We can only hope that it isn’t successful enough to spawn the sequel set up in the closing scene.
So, it’s been 20 years since the last Independence Day and humanity has rebuilt itself. Jeff Goldblum’s scientist character has spearheaded studies to adopt alien technologies, so now there’s a weapons base on the moon, the army fires laser guns, and the president flies around in a hover-copter. But wouldn’t ya know it? Those aliens aren’t done with us yet. After sitting dormant for 20 years, one of the crashed alien ships starts booping and beeping and all of the captured aliens spring back to life. Bearded ex-president Bill Pullman rises from retirement because he can feel something is wrong and he needs to start spitting out inspirational speeches to everyone around him. Brent Spiner awakens from a coma with all sorts of alien mythology in his head that he needs to let loose. Judd Hirsch is also wandering around cracking wise for some reason.
Will Smith refused to return, so his son (Jessie T. Usher) is now a pilot to fill in the roll in the overblown screenplay. Meanwhile Liam “Don’t Call Me Chris” Hemsworth plays a flyboy so wild that he was sent to the moon to be contained (they’ll need him). There are other new characters as well played by culty actors like Charlotte Gainsbourg, Maika Monroe, and William Fichtner, but they aren’t worth describing. No one plays an actual person here and they all barely fit into the convoluted plot. The key thing is the aliens return and blow stuff up, so the humans have to blow them up back; but how? Fortunately a secret orb appears offering all the answers. Why? I doubt even the five credited screenwriters could offer a satisfying explanation, so I certainly can’t.
Yes, this is one big dumb stupid movie. Though to be fair, that was expected. In fact, that’s a requirement of this franchise. However, it’s also clunky and forced in ways that spoil all the bonehead charms of the last installment. Without a cozy disaster movie structure to lean on that connects the cast, characters seem to bump into each other at random and subplots cut into each other in ways that almost always disrupts both the narrative and action momentum. Obviously Jeff Goldblum brings his uniquely neurotic charms to the table. That guy is incapable of delivering anything less than a watchable performance. Everyone else just seems lost though, especially Bill Pullman who is so sullenly serious and emotional at all times that it looks like he’s about to have either a poo or a heart attack. The attempts at humour nearly always ring false and generally involve bathroom activities. The characters are so cardboard that there are no emotional stakes. Racial stereotypes are piled so high that this almost feels like a recruitment film for a nefarious organization. It’s sloppy, stupid stuff. The sort of thing that Trey Parker and Matt Stone could turn into comedy gold without changing a word, they just need to add sarcastic inflection.
Of course, no one was ever going to buy a ticket to an Independence Day sequel for the storytelling or characterizations. This is all about the boom-boom and even that disappoints. The big alien attack is so quick that pretty much all of it was revealed in the trailer. The war scenes are all fairly pedestrian with CGI ships crashing into each other willy-nilly and no particular style or focus to the staging. The alien design is still strong, but shown off in such dull detail that it looses all mystique. Worst of all, the realities of contemporary blockbuster production pretty much rob the movie of all scale. It’s essentially a series of increasingly uninspired CGI cartoons with a cast standing in small sets or next to green screens for reaction shots. There aren’t any impressively large models and there certainly aren’t many trips out too huge locations. The movie looks like it was made on a computer in a closet with a dumptruck full of money and there’s very little sense of wonderment.
Independence Day: Resurgence is 110% a bad movie. However, the worst thing is that it’s not even entertainingly bad. The whole thing is rather dull and there are no surprises. It’s exactly what you’d expect but not in a good way. The fact that it barely even ends, opting instead for a cliffhanger finale, doesn’t even give anyone a sense of closure to leave the theater with. The whole thing is just one big dumb n’ dull waste of time. It won’t make you angry with the filmmakers, just frustrated at yourself for even bothering to buy a ticket. Who this movie is supposed to appeal to is a mystery to me (the target audience of 12-year-olds weren’t even born when the last movie was released), but hopefully they won’t show up. As painful as this unnecessary sequel is to watch, it’s safe to say the threequel would be worse. This is a product of Roland Emmerich and an overpaid team of filmmakers spinning their wheels. There won’t be any treads left for the next movie. It’ll be a pure trainwreck.