Two decades after the alien invasion of 1996, the Earth has become an unrecognisable haven of peace and unity. The nations of Earth have united as one in order to protect the world from future invasions.
By using recovered alien technology, they have built an impenetrable inter-galactic defence system should the extra-terrestrial menace return.
Unfortunately, on the eve of Independence Day, a 3000-mile-wide mothership appears and attacks with unprecedented force, the world’s leading scientists and most courageous fighter-pilots must spring in to action to save the planet from a seemingly invincible enemy.
With films like Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012 and White House Down under his belt, Director Roland Emmerich has separated himself from the pack when it comes to big, loud, blockbuster cinema.
This is a filmmaker most concerned with entertaining people and that’s a great thing. We need some mindless escapism to take us away from the mundanity of our day to day lives every now and then and Emmerich is more than willing to oblige.
If nothing else, the vast majority of his movies are entertaining and easy to watch. You never have to put too much thought in to what’s happening and Independence Day: Resurgence is yet another entry in what has become Emmerich’s wheelhouse – a big, loud and silly movie that’s easy to watch and nothing more.
As he always does, Emmerich does a great job in handling the action, putting us right there amidst the aerial dog-fights and destruction, but it is the writing that ultimately drags Resurgence down because nobody seems sure of what they want the sequel to be – an action-packed blockbuster, a buddy-comedy, a sci-fi thriller or something else entirely.
The tone of the movie is handled so haphazardly that the audience never really knows how to feel. Perhaps the best example is the moment thousands of people are running through the streets, screaming as buildings collapse around them and crush them under the debris.
This is a scene where countless people die, yet seconds later (literally SECONDS) Jeff Goldblum and Liam Hemsworth are cracking jokes and dropping one-liners like they’re going out of fashion, as if they didn’t just witness the complete decimation of an entire city and it has a jarring effect on the audience.
The original Independence Day was high on humour, but when things got serious and people started dying, they eased off the jokes, but it’s an entirely different matter in Resurgence.
The jokes come thick and fast, no matter what’s happening, but when you’re dealing with a movie with global destruction on this scale, some of the humour simply seems ill-advised and out of place.
However, when they aren’t trying to confuse you with bizarre tonal shifts, they are delivering some huge, bombastic action set pieces that never fail to entertain.
The ensemble cast is comprised of returning cast members from the original Independence Day and fresh new faces, all of whom are perfectly aware of how silly everything is, but they’re all game, which makes the movie much easier to watch.
None of the performers are taking anything too seriously and they do their best with the material they’re given. Of the new cast members, Travis Tope steals many of the scenes he’s in.
The bumbling side-kick to Liam Hemsworth’s Jake Morrison is always fun to watch and he brings his A-game when it comes to comedic timing.
While the cast do their best, they never gel quite as well as the cast of the original did.
Perhaps the film’s biggest issue is the sheer scale of the thing. As with most blockbuster sequels, the filmmakers seem to be under the belief that the only way they can deliver a better movie is by making a bigger movie, which isn’t always the case.
Independence Day: Resurgence is constantly flicking between the United States of America, Africa, London and even the Moon. No, seriously. There is a colonised moon base in this movie.
The problem with doing this is that there are countless characters in each location and you never really get to spend too much time with any of them, meaning you spend two hours watching hundreds of characters you don’t really care much for.
Aside from returning characters whom we already have an affinity towards because of the first movie, none of the new characters are able to emerge from the pack and make a lasting impression.
Independence Day: Resurgence is a pretty pointless sequel, but it isn’t necessarily a bad one…it’s just not particularly good either.
Back in 1996, Independence Day felt new and exciting. Audiences had never really seen global destruction on that scale before and with its ensemble cast and iconic moments, it quickly burrowed it’s way in to the hearts of millions. Unfortunately, Resurgence falls short of recapturing that same magic. Its everything the original is; big, loud, funny and visually spectacular, but there’s also an unshakeable feeling that there’s just something missing, even if you can’t quite pinpoint what it is.
Even so, Independence Day: Resurgence remains a harmless and undeniably entertaining flick, and there’s nothing really wrong with that…is there?
Also, there is a third instalment already in development, so at least we know we don’t have to wait twenty years for the next sequel.