Review: Independence Day – Resurgence

independencedayresurgence
Probably Roland Emmerich’s best film since Day After Tomorrow, but I’m not sure what that means… his practiced method of “bigger is better”, doesn’t run true here…

Exactly twenty years since they first attacked Earth, the aliens are back for revenge. Humanity has spent the time preparing for the worst by reverse engineering the technology left behind in 1996, but the following attack will test everything they’ve learned…

Roland Emmerich has learnt a lot over the years, Resurgence is probably better looking overall compared to its predecessor, and surprisingly the sequel remains reasonably faithful to the 1996 film. Which makes me forgive it for other failings; I was expecting much worse, especially from a film that seriously has the subtitle “Resurgence”.

One of Independence Day‘s best qualities was its ambiguous slow build; the aliens show up in huge space ships that just hover there at first, no one knows why. 1990s America is stunned stupid. But then all hell breaks loose. Resurgence doesn’t need that build up, despite two decades having elapsed between films. Yeah it has some build up, but this setup is only designed to show all the snazzy sci-fi gadgets and ships and guns we as a planet now have.
Yeah, Resurgence is a cheaper experience. For all its bells and whistles it is full of cliches borrowed from other movies (Aliens, unexpectedly) and horrendous plot conveniences that make its 1996 parent blush in embarrassment:

Who should fly the only hope for humanity?? Why, the one man mentally vulnerable to alien telepathy, of course!

The humans have mastered all alien technology, from laser cannons, rifles, anti-gravity technology, orbital defense platforms, but haven’t mastered alien shield technology yet?

Wait, where did he go? He was here half a second ago… OH god he’s in another room and working complex machinery we’ve never seen him use before and locked himself away with an alien!

There’s so much crammed into this film that nothing really settles. At least in the first film we had a close knit group of characters all trying to find each other amongst the chaos while defending the world. Here, we have two groups of main characters and two groups of minor characters, all doing unique things. We need the original cast (Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman) we need children of the original characters, we need the original character’s wives and or parents, and we need newcomers.
Woah, that’s a lot to process! Especially when you have a massive spacecraft the size of the Moon clamp, limpet-style, onto the Earth and expect us to care about all these people!
Did we really need the nerdy guy to start competing with the huge African warlord? Did we really need Goldblum’s dad to start driving a school bus of kids about?

It isn’t a terrible movie though. Like I say, it maintains a lot of the original’s flavour; it isn’t massively dumbed down like I feared it would be. I really need to stress how low my expectations were! The other countries of the world didn’t feel quite as powerless as they did in the first film, which was refreshing. The effects are marvelous, even for CGI. It was really cool seeing the aliens running around, definitely capitalising on one of the more subtly cool moments in the first film! I love those designs.

But it simply doesn’t have the first film’s charm or glory; by giving the united humans all the toys the true underdog tale of people settling their differences to fight an overwhelming enemy is lost. Instead we get a cheaper, by the numbers science fiction experience.

34347-2-5

 

Additional Marshmallows: I want to see a film about the African warlord and his ground battle with the aliens after the events in 1996! That sounded intense!

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