Independence Day: Resurgence - Review

One of THE most defining 90s movies ever is returning to the big screen with Independence Day: Resurgence.
Once again directed by world destroying director Roland Emmerich, Independence Day: Resurgence has the evil aliens return for a second time to get their revenge on the human race. But this time, their goal is not to invade the Earth but to flatout destroy it.
With a bigger alien ship attacking, Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman returning and Liam Hemsworth serving as the new main lead, Independence Day: Resurgence advertises itself by being "bigger and better".
Question is, if bigger really is always better, or if Will Smith made a wise decision to skip this sequel?

The plot:
We always knew they were coming back. After 'Independence Day' redefined the event movie genre, the next epic chapter delivers global spectacle on an unimaginable scale. Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens' advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction.
Source: 20th Century Fox

Despite obviously having the best intentions to be a worthy sequel to one of the defining blockbuster hits of the 90s, Independence Day: Resurgence sadly turns out to be not only a sloppily put together blockbuster but just a movie that happens to have come out roughly 20 years too late.

Setting the stage appropriately enough exactly 20 years after the aliens attacked Earth the first time around, Independence Day: Resurgence takes place in a world that is far more evolved than ours.
Having taken advantage of the alien technology salvaged from the destroyed alien spaceships after the first attack, the world's nations now all cooperate with each other and have built a huge defense base on the moon to notice and react to other alien attacks faster and more efficiently.
Of course things don't go as planned and the evil alien race that 20 years ago attacked Earth before and got their asses kicked by Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum, now want revenge. In doing so, they send out an even bigger ship that aims to drill itself into the Earth's core and destroy the entire planet.
Now of course it's once again up to Jeff Goldblum and a team of new blood to defend Earth one more time.

"What have we done?"

Even though Independence Day: Resurgence does good in representing a logical continuation and evolution of the world established in the first movie, Resurgence at the same time unfortunately doesn't manage to get even close to becoming the same quality popcorn blockbuster fun that the original Independence Day was.
Oftentimes, it feels like Independence Day: Resurgence and director Roland Emmerich simply think that aliens attacking Earth is good enough for the movie to become a hit even in 2016. Yet seeing how much the visual effects have evolved from 1996 to 2016 and how disaster movies are commonplace nowadays, Independence Day: Resurgence has an incredibly hard time keeping you interested.
But why did the first Independence Day movie work so well then? - Because it not only featured never before seen effects on such a large scale, but it first and foremost additionally boasted a cast of likable and relatable characters, which is what Independence Day: Resurgence sadly seems to have the biggest problems with.

What was impressive in 1996, isn't nearly as impressive anymore in 2016.

Aside from suffering from overlong exposition that prevents things to really get going until roughly the 40 minute mark, Independence Day: Resurgence tries to outweigh its big lack of Will Smith in the main cast by filling the movie to the brim with paperthin characters absolutely nobody will care about.
While on the one hand, you got Liam Hemsworth as pilot Jake and Jessie Usher as Will Smith's son from the first movie and yet another pilot, you can tell that the movie painstakingly tries to establish both characters practically as the same Will Smith-wannabe archetype and new main leading protagonists. Yet both of them turn out to be the absolute furthest thing away from being charismatic, funny or interesting in the slightest (aside from the fact that Liam Hemsworth himself is already pretty much box office poison).
In addition to that, Independence Day: Resurgence seemingly introduces more and more characters to the movie with each new scene, to the point from which the movie jumps around from one character's situation to the next that you are never given good enough time to care or even get to know the new characters that are destined to represent the main focus points in the movie.

Stop trying to make Liam Hemsworth happen. It's not going to happen.

Luckily though Independence Day: Resurgence does also feature a good amount of the old cast like Jeff Goldblum or Bill Pullman returning in their respective roles. However, as glad as one might be to once again see those childhood fan favorites from the first movie once again reunited in an Independence Day movie, they don't really get anything too exciting to do. While Pullman represtens barely anything more than an overly melodramatic ex-president and Jeff Goldblum being most of the time degraded to being a clueless sidekick to leave the stage to the new young blood (Liam Hemsworth, etc.), it's obvious that Goldblum and other actors from the first movie got only put into this sequel to evoke nostalgia - nostalgia for the much better and more interesting first movie.

Take a wild guess who seriously needed that paycheck by doing this movie.

Speaking of nostalgia, Independence Day: Resurgence's entire story is one whose only good aspects consist out of mentioning old characters and the happenings of the first movie whose memorable moments however are never reached in this sequel.
In that sense, Independence Day: Resurgence sure enough always somewhat "tries" to be bigger and better in everything it does. With that said, now the humans have alien technology to fight with, now a bigger alien ship arrives to destory the ENTIRE world, now we get to learn even more about how those aliens work, etc.
And while it's actually a nice evolution for the franchise to introduce a deeper lore surrounding the alien race, the movie completely loses itself in it to the point where after the first hour it already becomes ridiculously obvious that the entire movie only wants to set up yet another third movie - something that gets even mentioned right into the viewer's face during the final scene of the movie.
Much like other movies that are too busy setting up sequels and cinematic universes, Independence Day: Resurgence is a movie that forgets to be an interesting movie in itself. With only uninspired performances from the old cast and entirely uninteresting characters being delivered by the new cast, one seriously has to question whether anyone even wants to see an Independence Day 3 at this point.

Bigger isn't always better.

Plot and actionwise, Independence Day: Resurgence pretty much follows more or less the same narrative structure of the first movie - aliens arrive, time to attack, failure, time to find their weakspot, weakspot found, finale, the end. The only new interesting aspect about the entire sequel truely are the newly introduced deeper lore about the alien race (which I won't spoil here) and the fact that the human race now owns alien technology to defend themselves. And while it's certainly a logical step forward from the last movie, seeing Earth's military fight back the alien attackers with futuristic spaceships and lasers somewhat pulls all of the teeth out of the action scenes in the movie, since the odds now feel very even (whereas in the first movie the David vs. Goliath theme was what made every battle scene exciting). Sure enough the effects and destruction of the world's big cities is technically still very well made, but it just feels ridiculously empty and unexciting. Most notably also because Independence Day: Resurgence doesn't nearly focus as much on the global aspect and on citizens reacting to the alien invasion as the first movie. Actually, you would be hard pressed to find even one or two scenes where the focus is actually put on random citizens reacting to this second alien invasion. It all makes the destruction of many big cities in Independence Day: Resurgence feel as if the aliens are destroying uninhabited ghost cities with nobody living in it.
But to top the entire mess off, Independence Day: Resurgence delivers probably the most hilariously redundant final battle sequence in recent memory, which not only exactly feels like a videogame level but also manages to somewhat rip off James Cameron's Aliens at the same time.

The David vs. Goliath theme of the first movie is pretty much gone.

Overall, Independence Day: Resurgence is a sequel that never should have been made.
Despite clearly good intentions to be the next logical step for the franchise with every aspect of the movie amped up to be "bigger and better", Independence Day: Resurgence sadly is just way too chockful of thin uninteresting main characters, way too many disposable sidecharacters, overly long exposition, uninspired action scenes and is simply too obsessed with setting up another sequel, that it completely fails to understand and recapture what made the first movie such a beloved blockbuster hit in the first place.
Independence Day: Resurgence is one of those movies that spends so much time referencing the first movie and mimicing its key scenes and even plot, that one is easily way better off just watching the first movie again instead.
Independence Day: Resurgence sure takes "bigger and better" to heart, yet absolutely only in regards to its effects. With no strong script, emotional punch and most importantly charismatic and interesting lead characters to carry the movie, Independence Day: Resurgence feels like a mere shadow of the first movie and like an empty shell of a blockbuster movie.
Will Smith was smart in his decision to skip this waste of a sequel, and so should you.

Final Verdict: 2 out of 10


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