Let’s be honest, nostalgia is bloody terrible. It messes with our mind and makes us believe things that aren’t really true, like that certain films from our childhood are actually good. And this is a problem that afflicts us all all, I’m sure you have a film from your childhood that you love for some reason despite it being terrible. Mine is Cats Vs Dogs by the way. And that’s fine enough, but we should try and remember that we only like this these things because they are fond memories of the past and stop them from coming back into the modern age because that just hurts us all. That’s where Independence Day: Resurgence comes in.
It has been twenty years since an alien invasion almost destroyed the Earth and they have been preparing for a second one ever since. And as predicted, the aliens are back and this time they are going to make sure they take over the planet by bringing a mothership twice the size of the previous one.
So let’s make it clear, while the original Independence Day does have its own moments, it isn’t a good film. Yes, it has that speech and the practical effects are cool, but the film suffered from a real lack of character with everyone other than Will Smith being a dull plank of wood. And this film is trying to do everything the original did, just without that speech, practical effects and Will Smith. So yes, without the bits that made the film bearable to those of us who don’t like it. And that means this film has no moments which are memorable. Nothing. None of the set pieces, none of the cool lines, no performance which makes you invested in this story. You are just dragged from meeting to big set piece to meeting to things that are incredibly stupid, which I will get to.
Firstly, let’s discuss those big set pieces. The original film had the White House blowing up, and thanks to using a combination of practical effects, making it seem real, and being one of the first few films to blow up a landmark, it was an incredibly memorable sequence which showed you what was at stake. Here, because they have to raise the stakes, everything is destroyed. Lots of cities, lots of landmarks, provoking a smug comment from David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park) about how they like to go for the landmarks, and it’s just way too much. Because of the set up of the White House sequence, it has a massive impact. But because this film just destroys everything and it’s all rather crappy CGI effects, it means nothing. It’s like how if you constantly eat chocolate, it’s just another nice thing and you don’t care about it. But if you only have one chocolate bar a week, it becomes a special occasion. Less means more.
And that goes for the characters too much because there way too many with competing sub-plots that mean nothing. Let’s try and go through them all. David Levinson is the head of some alien research thing and is once again coming up with a way to defeat the mothership. Former President Whitmore (Bill Pullman, Lost Highway) has gone a bit crazy and sees visions in his head before continuing to do stupid things while his daughter Patricia (Maika Monroe, It Follows) tries to stop him from doing said stupid things. Then you have a feud between pilots Jake (Liam Hemsworth, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) and Dylan (Jessie T. Usher, Survivor’s Remorse), who is also the son of Will Smith’s character who died before the film began. And there are so many more beyond that. The film shoves many characters into the fold and never bothers to give them any sort of personality, because they don’t have time to. Cut some plots out, and give us some time with these characters so we can have some time to care about them, so the explosions actually mean something.
So this film is already bad enough by having a million different characters being around when a million different places are being blown up. And yes, it would be bad enough if it was just another boring dull effects laden blockbuster. But no, this film is also incredibly stupid at times as well. There’s another plot point where a white sphere turns out to be the benevolent saviour of the universe as it has guided other aliens killed by these evil ones to a refugee planet, because dumb blockbuster needed some of Stark Trek‘s utopia style philosophy and it isn’t completely out-of-place at all. And then the character of Dr. Brakish Okun (Brent Spiner, Star Trek: The Next Generation) who has a running joke where he forgets to wear trousers. So yeah, a real life version of The LEGO Movie‘s ‘Honey Where Are My Pants?” sitcom parody. Horrendously stupid and insulting to any viewer who has any brain cells to rub together, though if you choose to watch this film you probably don’t have any. I lost all mine watching Transformers: Age of Extinction.
And right here is where I try to find some sort of goodness in the film, something you can cling to while going through the hours of boredom and stupidity. And I’m really struggling. There is a gay couple in the film with Okun and Dr. Milton Isaacs (John Storey, Stargate) being together which is a nice step forward, but the film seems scared to actually show them kissing or anything a straight couple would do, which is odd considering that director Roland Emmerich (The Day After Tomorrow) is openly gay himself. I’m going to blame this one the production team and not him because of that. And other than that, this film doesn’t really have much to offer.
When film snobs like to blast popular blockbusters, they like to imagine up a film full of meaningless characters and is full of CGI buildings being blown up by other CGI things for our titillation. Independence Day: Resurgence is that film. It’s the film that thinks just by throwing lots of characters and lots of explosions at us, we’ll be suitably excited because more obviously means more. But they are wrong, you have to be tactful with your explosions so they actually matter. You need to have a few well-developed characters than lots of cardboard cut outs that have only have traits that push the meager plot forward. Resurgence doesn’t have that and so is one of the worst blockbusters I’ve seen all year.