For the full Movie Bears Podcast review of ‘Independence Day: Resurgence,’ check out the video below! And read on for our mini-review…
The lens of nostalgia often allows us to see a film in a more positive light than perhaps it deserves. Case in point: 1996’s ‘Independence Day’ has a stunning number of quality issues, but because of the practical effects employed at the time and the charismatic performances by Will Smith, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Pullman, we overlook these errors and recall this film fondly. However, the lens of nostalgia does nothing to salvage the 20-years-later sequel, ‘Independence Day: Resurgence,’ which squanders any lingering goodwill the franchise may have had with a boring retread of a plot, predictable story beats, and two-dimensional characters.
The story begins 20 years after Earth warded off the alien invasion of the first film. Earth has used this time to improve their defenses, but so too have the aliens, who return for round two of the fight. Many of the story elements feel like they were copied directly from the first film: Jeff Goldblum is back to stammer his way through warnings to the Earth’s government, famous landmarks get blown up, snarky pilots (Liam Hemsworth and Jessie T. Usher this time) engage the baddies in high-octane aerial dogfights, and leaders deliver uplifting speeches to rally their forces. All of these elements feel like a photocopy of a photocopy, though, in that none feel anywhere near as impactful as they did in 1996.
Part of the problem is in the film’s reliance on too many characters, none of which receives adequate development. For every character that shows promise, there are an equal number of side characters hogging slivers of the film’s run time. It’s death by a thousand cuts here, only these cuts are cast members. Characters like Julius Levinson (Judd Hirsch reprising his role from the first film) and a new character portrayed by Charlotte Gainsbourg only seem to be on screen because they had nothing better to do that day and decided to swing by the set.
There are a few things that ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’ gets right. After director Roland Emmerich’s much maligned ‘Stonewall,’ it was heartening to see him include a gay relationship amongst the cast, even if that gay relationship was underwhelming in the grand scheme of things. We’ll take what LGBTQ representation we can get, we suppose. The film also showcases technology that the humans of the world have crafted from the foundations laid by salvaged alien tech 20 years prior, and the ingenuity of these scenes showed a glimmer of what this film could have been with, frankly, a stronger script.
Best case scenario, diehard fans of the original may find enough here to give this film a passing grade, but we doubt any of those fans will find this film anywhere near as good as its flawed predecessor. And, certainly, if you’re looking for a big and loud film to watch while grazing popcorn, you could probably do worse than ‘Independence Day: Resurgence.’ Unfortunately, that’s the highest praise we can give this film, and on the whole, we recommend you skip it.
Written by Will Lindus, Movie Bears Podcast